GALLERY: A year of music in the Hunter

Above, a handful of the best pictures captured by Newcastle Herald photographers this year at events around the Hunter. 

THE year 2012 in music began at Peats Ridge Festival with Gotye welcoming the arrival of 2012 on New Year’s Eve as the headline act at the eclectic three-day celebration of music and the arts held in the picturesque Glenworth Valley.

The Morning of the Earth concert at Civic Theatre in January celebrated the 40th anniversary of the iconic surf film, featuring Brian Cadd, Tamam Shud guitarist Tim Gaze playing alongside guests Mike Rudd of Spectrum, Lior and singer Gyan.

The ’90s made a comeback with Euro-pop act The Vengaboys playing a cheese-filled show at Panthers in January.

‘‘Pop opera’’ group Il Divo sang at Hope Estate in February and honorary Aussie and The X-Factor judge Ronan Keating performed at Newcastle Entertainment Centre that month with support from fellow Irish singer Sharon Corr (formerly of The Corrs).

Legendary crooner Tony Bennett was scheduled to perform at Tempus Two winery in April but cancelled. Pop singer George Michael also cancelled – for a second time – his Australia tour which included a stop at Hope Estate in December. He previously rescheduled a planned April run following a near-death experience with pneumonia.

Monty Python comedy legend John Cleese delivered three sold-out shows at Civic Theatre Newcastle in March as part of an extensive national tour – all reportedly in an effort to make enough money to pay the millions in alimony he owes to his ex-wife.

It wasn’t the only comedy legend the venue welcomed in 2012. Barry Humphries also brought Dame Edna Everage and Les Patterson to the stage for a three days from June 29 on a farewell tour.

Goth rockers Evanescence returned to the scene after a lengthy break, playing to fans at Newcastle Entertainment Centre in March.

Duran Duran brought a slice of ’80s pop nostalgia to Tempus Two in March, cranking out hit after hit (Planet Earth, The Reflex, A View To Kill, Hungry Like The Wolf).

Country music fans were treated to some of the biggest names in the genre when CMC Rocks the Hunter brought the likes of Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Lee Kernaghan and Wynonna Judd to Hope Estate in March.

Part stand-up comedy, part lecture and part comedy show, ex-Black Flag frontman Henry Rollins returned to Newcastle for The Long March Tour – talking on stage for 2 hours.

Grunge rockers Tumbleweed reunited at Newcastle Leagues Club in April while John Butler played new songs and new versions of old songs at a sold-out show at Civic Theatre.

Dweezil Zappa brought his Zappa Plays Zappa show back to Newcastle in April while in the country for Byron Bay’s Bluesfest.

Boutique music festival The Gum Ball, held on a private property in Belford in April, boasted a solid line-up with Wagons, Custard, Ash Grunwald, Vika & Linda Bull and Hunter boys Benjalu.

After one of the most anticipated reunion tours of 2011 with Cold Chisel, Jimmy Barnes returned for intimate solo shows at Lizotte’s in May followed by another one-off gig at Wests in November.

John Waters brought his long-running tribute to John Lennon, Looking Through A Glass Onion, back to Newcastle in May to mark  the 20th anniversary of the show with a final run around Australia.

Melbourne soul singer Daniel Merriweather played in Newcastle for the first time at the Bar On the Hill in May.

Brisbane rockers The Butterfly Effect farewelled singer Clint Boge on a final tour that included a show at Newcastle Panthers in May.

Unpredictable in the past, The Brian Jonestown Massacre frontman Anton Newcombe brought his ’60s revivalist collective to Newcastle in May – and the show was incident free. No on-stage punch ups, just magic musical moments.

UK glam rockers The Darkness proved rock is not dead – jumpsuits and all – when they tore the roof off Newcastle Panthers in May with what will go down as one of the most memorable performances of the year.

Groovin’ the Moo  cemented its position as one of the best festivals on the annual calendar, this year scoring UK band Kaiser Chiefs as the headline act alongside hip-hop legends Public Enemy with the likes of Aussie favourites Hilltop Hoods and girl-of-the-moment Kimbra on the bill.

S Club – formerly known as S Club 7 – played at Newcastle Panthers in June 2, adding yet another act to the ’90s reunion.

Continuing the retro theme, Fat As Butter announced it would bring Teenage Dirtbag one-hit-wonders Wheatus out for the festival’s return to Newcastle Foreshore in September 22, alongside Euro dance-pop acts N-Trance and Eiffel 65 who, collectively, have not had a chart hit in Australia since the 1990s. 

Other acts on the star-studded bill included Good Charlotte, Mystery Jets, 360 and Pond.

Aussie bands on the rise included San Cisco in February at the Great Northern Hotel, Children Collide in March and Deep Sea Arcade – both at the Cambridge – in June, while Afro-pop group Jinga Safari played at the Bar On the Hill in August.

Former Australian Idol winner Guy Sebastian performed at Cessnock in June while The Heavenly Sounds tour concept brought another ex-Idol, Lisa Mitchell, to Christ Church Cathedral for a special show in June. She returned in October to play the Bar On the Hill.

Canadian pop-rock group Simple Plan performed at Newcastle Panthers in June.

The Hard-Ons reunited with their original singer Keish to play at the Great Northern in June at a fund-raiser for frontman Blackie who was brutally bashed in Sydney on the eve of the band’s tour.

After a lengthy gap out of the spotlight, Missy Higgins made a  comeback with her new album, The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle, to play Newcastle City Hall in June.

Much-loved  New Zealand comedy duo Flight of the Conchords embarked on a long-awaited tour of  Australia, including Newcastle Entertainment Centre in July where they performed songs made famous on their hit HBO series of the same name such as Business Time, Hurt Feelings and Inner City Pressure.

Newcastle band The Guppies – Lachlan Morris (guitar/vocals), James Hodgett (bass) and Angus Geraghty (drums) – continued their rise after reaching the final stage of triple j Unearthed in 2011, playing gigs including Fat As Butter.

Another Newcastle band,  The Carousel – comprising Cam Hughes (vocals/guitars), Nick Shepherd (lead guitar), Liam Bonomini (bass) and Sam Bonomini (drums) – also scored a spot on the bill at  Fat As Butter as did The Owls along with 1929indian who enjoyed a busy year with the release of a debut EP and a set at Groovin’ The Moo.

Kiwi artist Ladyhawke performed My Delirium, Paris Is Burning and new songs including Black, White & Blue at the Cambridge Hotel in July.

Perth rockers Karnivool road-tested new material at Panthers in July.

Oz punk rockers Bodyjar returned after a two-year hiatus for a gig at the Bar On The Hill in August 26.

Aussie hip-hoppers Hilltop Hoods proved their position as one of the country’s best live acts at Bar on the Hill in August, returning after a triumphant set at Groovin’ the Moo.

Country crooner Kenny Rogers played a hit-filled set at Newcastle Entertainment Centre in August.

Tex Perkins evoked the spirit of Johnny Cash in his stage show The Man in Black at Civic Theatre in August, American drawl and all.

Regurgitator turned the clock back to play their classic albums Unit and Tu-Plang in full at the Cambridge Hotel in September.

Xavier Rudd brought his elaborate drum and didgeridoo set-up to Civic Theatre for a show in September.

The nostalgia wave continued, this time for the baby boomers, when the Long Way To the Top concert series celebrated a decade since the last tour with Brian Cadd, Doug Parkinson, JPY, Marcia Hines and Ian Moss paying tribute to the late Billy Thorpe at Newcastle Entertainment Centre in October.

October also marked one of the most anticipated music events of the year: Mumford & Sons boutique music festival Gentlemen of the Road, held in Dungog after being handpicked as the town of choice to host the one-off event during the band’s Australia tour. 

The ambitious event also featured Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Sarah Blasko, Matt Corby, Willy Mason, Husky and Yacht Club DJs.

The same week, Hunter music-goers were treated to British indie band Gomez playing at Newcastle Panthers.

Comedy band The Beards returned for a second Newcastle 2012 date to perform at the Bar On the Hill in October, encouraging audience members – even the ladies – to don facial hair for the occasion.

The annual Jazz In the Vines festival brought the likes of The Voice runner-up Darren Percival, Grace Knight and Tom Burlinson to Tyrrell’s winery in October for a day of food, wine and music in the sun.

The Black Keys proved just how big they have become when they graduated to bigger stages, playing Newcastle Entertainment Centre in October.

Silverchair drummer Ben Gillies emerged from the band’s self-imposed ‘‘indefinite hibernation’’ in October to unleash his debut solo offering as Bento, a mix of power pop and classic rock led by the single Diamond Days.

Local country music duo McAlister Kemp – Drew McAlister and Troy Kemp – scored a nod for their second album, Country Proud, at this year’s ARIA awards.

INXS gave no inkling it would be the final show they would ever play in the region when they supported Matchbox Twenty at Hope Estate in November.

The ’90s revival stuck around with US R&B group Boyz II Men playing a hit-packed – albeit cheesy – set at Newcastle Panthers.

Lizotte’s Newcastle continued to bring the big-name acts and Aussie favourites to the stage for intimate performances.

Colin Hay dropped in to Lizotte’s in February, Eric Bibb returned in March and bluesman Keb’ Mo’ played in April – one of several coups scored by the intimate venue as a Bluesfest sideshow alongside Steve Earle. The legendary songwriter played a memorable set, finishing with Copperhead Road before an encore of Guitar Town.

Fellow Bluesfest performers included Alabama 3  (the band behind Woke Up This Morning – opening theme song for The Sopranos), also in March.

Bic Runga – who scored a big hit in the ’90s with Sway – performed at Lizotte’s  in May, Tim Rogers was in solo mode in August, Julia Stone (minus brother Angus who played his own show at Newcastle Leagues Club in November) played to a sell-out crowd in September.

Josh Pyke returned in October as did harmonica legend Charlie Musselwhite, while The Tea Party frontman Jeff Martin treated fans to an acoustic set of favourites and covers earlier this month.

A Day On the Green – who celebrate their 300th show in January – pulled out the big guns again with Simple Minds and Devo performing earlier this month. 

Other acts at the popular outdoor winery shows at Bimbadgen Estate this year included Hoodoo Gurus, Noiseworks, Ian Moss and The Angels.

It was farewell for The Wiggles this month when they played to packed crowds of  children at Newcastle Entertainment Centre as part of a final tour before the original members (excluding the blue Wiggle) hung up their skivvies for the last time.

Newcastle band The Seabellies came together just before Christmas for a homecoming gig at the Cambridge Hotel last week in support of their new single Paper Tiger.

Meanwhile, fellow Newcastle indie rockers The Havelocks capped off the year with new single, Black and Blue.

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