The resurgence of one time Australian Idol runner-up Shannon Noll continues, with as many twists and turns as some kind of space opera epic. I have to admit, I'm a tragic fan of Noll's career revival, having reviewed his enigmatic appearance at Fat Controller last July, to owning a framed print of him sitting on the car from the 'Drive' video. Has there been anyone else in recent history who's been privy to such an amazing turnaround in their artistic career?
In the time that's elapsed that July evening, there's been memes, memes, the infamous Crazy Horse incident, some more memes, and then a pair of singles preparing album number five. As such, his focus on the latter subject has led him on a national tour promoting his newest single, 'Southern Sky'.
Having been witness to the lucid dream of the Fat Controller show, I had many questions leading into Friday night. Would he be on before midnight? Would there be beer sculled out of a shoe? Would the Unibar serve fish tacos all night as a mark of respect? Was Nollsy still a driving force in 2017?
The answer to this lay with the hour and a half long set that Shannon Noll and his backing band pulled off. What I noticed immediately was the enormous grin on Noll's face, which stayed with him for the entire night. This wasn't a man who was here to lip sync to his own songs or sign phones; this was a man with a mission, with his backing band showing off more muscle and showmanship than a bouncer on Hindley Street. The classics like 'Drive' and 'What About Me' had the entire room singing along, while slightly-less familiar songs like 'Learn to Fly' and 'Shine' had a similar, albeit restrained impact. Even 'Southern Sky', despite only being out a week, had a solid chant for the entirety of the performance, while a cover of the Creedence Clearwater Revival classic 'Fortunate Son' was met with little reaction from the younger demographic.
The only hiccup came when he returned for his encore, kicking off with a tribute to Chris Cornell. While it was a wholesome gesture to the Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman who had died the night before, the lack of preparation manifested itself in sloppiness, and felt misguided at best. This was rectified with a blistering version of 'Lift', which sent the entire crowd into overdrive, correcting any error that had been made prior - particularly when he decided to rip his top off and perform shirtless, Southern Cross tattoo and all.
Perhaps the most intriguing moments came when the audience, predominantly university students with a sprinkling of 40 and 50-somethings for good measure, were belting out every word to every song Noll and his backing band played. This only reinforced Noll's belief in his fans; he made jabs at the music industry throughout the night, while thanking those who had been with him not only since his Idol heyday, but also those who had resurrected his career through the power of the internet. And then there was the cheeky dig at Guy Sebastian, who Noll compared to his wife - saying that he was used to 'coming second'.
To put things into perspective through the lens of Star Wars, if the Fat Controller appearance last July was 'A New Hope', and the Crazy Horse arrest was the equivalent of 'The Empire Strikes Back', then Noll's Unibar performance was akin to 'Return of the Jedi'; the redemption of our fallen hero Shannon Skywal-err, Noll. His affair with Adelaide may continue to have the odd hiccup, but in his first performance here since the drama of the Crazy Horse, Noll continues to carry on like a man reborn. He may have been brought back to the limelight through memes, but Shannon Noll is clearly determined to make the most of this second chance. I can't wait for the fourth instalment to this incredible saga.