Instead we got a professionally filmed and mixed document of the five of them playing in different rooms at different times. The only things “live” about this livestream were the comments whizzing past from the 87,000 who logged on, a few of them complaints about the pre-record.
But those were outweighed by expressions of gratitude and joy, because despite the sonically distanced circumstances, Powderfinger sounded as good as they ever have.
With the five of them appearing to lay down their parts in complete takes, this 35-minute set had a rawness and looseness often missing amid the studio perfection of the multi-platinum albums.
Opener Bless My Soul sounded more like ’70’s Rolling Stones than something that once competed with Evermore and Eskimo Joe. Ian Haug’s riff swang soulfully, Jon Coghill’s thundering drum fills belied the fact he’d barely played for a decade, while Bernard Fanning’s holler was urgent and engaging.
He even threw in a bit of prancing and handclapping a la Mick Jagger, although the high notes Fanning hit in My Happiness showed his voice is holding up considerably better.
On My Mind remained a rocking standout of the Powerfinger repertoire, and here afforded us the surreal sight of John Collins riffing wildly on his bass in front of nobody, ghost-lit by a single chandelier on the stage of Brisbane’s Fortitude Music Hall.
Thrilloilogy lumbered on a minute too long, but Already Gone was refreshed by Fanning adding neat harmonica bursts, and hitting its anthemic chorus for six. “Forever young”, alright.
He sang closer These Days beautifully too, aware of its new level of profundity in the COVID-19 era. Lest it become too serious, Darren Middleton hammed up the guitar solo as his hair got windblown, thanks to a pedestal fan he’d set up in his Melbourne studio.
It’s true Powderfinger didn’t depart much from the familiar here. But memories of the 2000s are a welcome thing right now.