In the process of single-handedly atoning for Australia’s past contributions to popular music–the Bee Gees, Olivia Newton-John, Men at Work–Midnight Oil may come to rank with U2 as the Commonwealth’s hard-rock leaders. Like U2, the Oil has a clean muscular sound; with four musicians, however, Oil’s sound is more ornate and the arrangements more diverse. After a few uncertain LPs, Midnight Oil came up with the watershed 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1, on which social conscience and striking production meshed to create a landmark in political rock ‘n’ roll. Their new record, Diesel and Dust, continues this combination; this time the songs (which focus on a recurring theme of aboriginal land rights in Australia) are even better, the arrangements (particularly some very tough guitar work by Martin Rotsey and Jim Moginie) even cleaner. What a record. The staging for this tour (at least when I saw it a few months ago) includes a great stuffed dog howling at the sky, barbed wire strewn across the stage, and other detritus of the Australian outback the band draws upon for so much of its imagery. Strong stuff: and in front of it all looms singer Peter Garrett, more than six and a half feet tall, stalking like a giant praying mantis come to exact revenge. Tuesday, 7:30 PM, Aragon Ballroom, 1106 W. Lawrence; 666-6667 or 559-1212.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Ebet Roberts.