Jimmy Barnes is an absolute legend

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Jimmy Barnes is an absolute legend


Jimmy Barnes’ story started where his last book, Working Class Boy, left off. We suppose it’s common knowledge that Cold Chisel – primarily Barnes himself – were wild, and so within minutes Barnes had painted a colourful, engaging picture of this small band of ‘misfits’ from Adelaide, how they grew and how crazy yet real their world was. We knew he had a way with music, but his talent for pulling people into his world exceeded far beyond that raspy, guttural voice.

He took fans through their journey, and shared the music that shaped his life and career, for better or worse. Firstly, a cover of ‘Happy Together’by The Turtles, reiterating how unrefined, yet controlled Barnes’ life is. Anyone who has heard Barnes sing knows the intense level of emotion he puts forward, but to hear the unfiltered story behind the man required him to leave more on the stage. For fan favourite songs like ‘Letters to Alan and ‘No Second Prize’, he’s still the same powerhouse that throws every piece of himself into his music, and the cheeky titbits about his life – such as getting John Farnham so pissed he didn’t know how to get home. Finishing with ‘Working Class Man’, Barnes explained the song was written for his fans. “Souls of the earth,” as he described them, and so a stripped back and passionate version of the Australian anthem was the perfect ending.

It’s not over until the lights come on. Mid standing ovation, he jogged back out amid louder cheers than surely even he has heard and delivered a special goodbye. Taking a moment to address the raw and tragic nature of his circumstances and how he wouldn’t be here today if he had tried to survive it himself, was the cherry on an indulgent evening.

In the end, the thing about telling his stories this way is he shares all his history, mistakes, triumphs and everything in between. The raw reality of his story was so deeply felt by everyone in the room because he doesn’t try and hide anything. Watching the montage of images and videos of his 50 years playing as the backdrop to a new song, we saw a great man who’s struggled and survived and yet we still see him giving everything to his audience.

Highlight: At the risk of sounding lame, the whole bloody thing.

Lowlight: Running out of tissues about three-quarters of the way through.

Crowd Favourite: ‘Working Class Man’.