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How Midnight Oil made an art of mixing politics with music

From gigs in remote indigenous communities to an actual political career for frontman Peter Garrett, few have mixed politics and music as effectively as Australia's Midnight Oil

Big statements are for big occasions. And they don’t come much bigger than when they are made at the greatest sporting event on the planet. At the closing ceremony of Sydney’s Olympics in 2000, in front of a stadium audience of 115,000 and a global TV audience estimated at 3.5 billion, Midnight Oil took to the stage and played Beds Are Burning, their 1987 protest song about the theft of land from Australia’s indigenous population.

The band wore simple black outfits, each adorned with the word ‘sorry’ in white. This was both a shameful reminder of the nation’s brutal history, and a direct comment on Prime Minister John Howard’s refusal to apologise to Aboriginal Australians on behalf of the government.


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