Firstly, there is the setting: the beautiful vineyard of Rochford Winery. Then, there is the pace: there are no sweaty people pushing and shoving to get a good spot. Finally, there are the people: none of whom spent the last two hours working out which band t-shirt they were going to wear. But thatís what makes the A Day On The Green day-long festivals so enjoyable. There is no pretense, only fans of the artists and good wine.
After a beautiful drive through the Yarra Valley wine region, we arrived at Rochford just in time to secure our spot smack bang in front of the stage, crack open a bottle of wine and enjoy the show.
While Elvis Costello and the Imposters were the headline act, the day also showcased an amazing array of stellar Australian artists. First on stage was Claire Bowditch, a woman slowly making a name for herself thanks to Melbourneís strong independent radio scene.
Next artist on the bill was Mick Thomas. The former Weddings, Parties, Anything member jumped straight into his biggest hit, Fatherís Day, reminding the audience why he is one of the nationís greatest songwriters. Mick was able to keep his acoustic set alive, heartfelt and at times rather humorous.
Next up was Stephen Cummings, no stranger to the Australian Music scene, having been around since The Sports. He took the growing audience with him in a time machine as he rushed through his long and prolific career. What made this such a treat was the fact that for many years now Stephen has refused to play his old songs. Stephen was backed by the ever so talented Shane OíMeara on guitar.
The real surprise from all of the support bands was Johnny Diesel. The once front man of The Injectors, Diesel proved that he is one of the most soulful Australian, neigh, international singer/songwriters around. Knowing very well by this time of the evening that the crowd had had their fair share of grape, he instigated the first sing-a-long for the evening. Whilst we all sounded terrible, Diesel shone through.
The last of the support acts was Joe Camilleri. Joe has been in half a dozen Australian bands over the years including The Black Sorrows. Still performing acoustically, Joe also had support from a bass player another guitarist and some violin. Like all the others, he went through his entire back catalogue pulling out all the gems that I have foolishly not listened to in a while.
With the heavy red sun slowly dropping below dense clouds it was time for the artist that we had all been waiting for, the man formerly known as Declan McManus, Mr Elvis Costello. The band jumped on stage and rocked out. I mean they seriously rocked out, with classics like Accidents Will Happen and recent singles like Tear Off Your Own Head (Doll Revolution).
After four fast and furious songs back-to-back, Elvis formally greeted the crowd and cheekily explained how he loved to open the set with a ballad. Early on the crowd were pretty subdued, but that changed during the song I Canít Stand Up From Falling Down when Elvis encouraged audience members from the general admission area to come up to the restricted area up the front. "Let the dirty dogs through" he announced to the security team. And through they came. Now, despite my comfort zone being destroyed by thousands of dancing fools, it was a classic example of how "punk" Elvis Costello still is. From this moment on we were squashed between hundreds of crazed Elvis fans and loving every minute of it. After nearly two hours of greatest hits and new material Elvis closed the set with his Dylan inspired pop classic Pump It Up. What a performance! I mean we might all be getting on in age, and we might not be watching Rage Against the Machine but the audience still knew how to rock and have a good time.
The A Day On The Green events will be held throughout summer and artists such as Jamie Cullum and Norah Jones have already agreed to headline them. If youíre a music fan but sick of dodgy young crowds then these events are not to be missed. I whole-heartedly recommend them.