Too often in rock and roll, the brute force of the guitar/bass/drums instrumentation substitutes for genuine energy. The rock highway is littered with bands intoxicated by this leveling power; latter-day U2, for example, has more than once allowed its melodies - and message - to be overrun by raw, rather mindless muscle-flexing.
The five-piece Australian band Midnight Oil can match such big-sound bands decibel for decibel, and like them, can rouse powerful emotions with a simple change of chord.
But last night at the Spectrum, the band used bombast as just another tool - one that was no more important than lead singer Peter Garrett's ability to compress complex (and often controversial) ideas into the pop-song format. For this band, slogging power chords are the only logical punctuation for songs about the rape of the earth, the aboriginal land-rights struggle, the treatment of Vietnam War veterans.