JET: 20th Anniversary Tour, Forum Melbourne, Melbourne, September 22nd 2023 – Live Review

I distinctively remember discovering JET through an Apple iPod and iTunes advertisement on TV which had several silhouettes with different coloured backgrounds, all holding the white music player product and energetically dancing to JET’s ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl’. Now, I never bought the damned iPod but I did buy JET’s debut album ‘Get Born’.

Growing up with JET’s music, ‘Get Born’ was a staple of my CD collection. Back then, Australian rock music reigned supreme, to the point where even those that didn’t actively follow the music genre knew of JET and their severely catchy tunes.

Cut to 2023, the Melbourne band consisting of Nic Cester, Chris Cester, Cameron Muncey and Mark Wilson, is celebrating the 20th anniversary of their iconic debut album. Commemorating the achievement by touring nationally and playing ‘Get Born’ in its entirety, fans eagerly leaped at the opportunity to see this legendary band live in a sold-out tour. Holding a warm-up gig at Melbourne venue The Night Cat only two nights beforehand, with how beloved The Forum is as a live music venue, I believe it is only fitting for JET’s home city concert to be the main event of the tour. At least, it sure felt like it!

Unfortunately, due to a family emergency, Chris Cester who is now located in the US, couldn’t make it to the Australian tour. However, the band is still accompanied by Louis Macklin on the keys and Pete Marin on the drums, both of which do a phenomenal job. I daresay that an additional and important member of this tour is whoever it is overseeing the lighting tech and lighting design. Not only is the setup aesthetically pleasing but seeing the gorgeous lights flicker in time to the beat during various opportune moments of JET’s setlist was genius, wonderful to watch and I often found myself appreciating the lighting alone throughout the night.

Before JET even took the stage, the energy of the room was palpable. The Melbourne audience were diverse not only in age but in fandom. Some were clearly long-term fans proudly wearing their previous tour t-shirts (well, the lucky ones who still had them fit) while others were excited to be seeing JET for the first time. Among the audience, I found a very excited Yosuke who had flown down from Tokyo, Japan to Australia in a solo trip just to see JET’s Melbourne concert. Yosuke shared with me that his father liked The Beatles and through this love, they found JET. Not only did Yosuke fly down specifically for the concert but he was also only staying for four days in his first ever visit to Australia.

This is a passion that I can relate to. I’m all for travelling to see a concert, especially if the artist I like isn’t touring my city or country, or if I simply just want to a see a concert tour more than once. I wanted to help Yosuke and ended up obtaining a physical ticket stub for him to cherish as a memento of his experience (honestly, obtaining concert ticket stubs should not be a struggle in general), but I also helped him find the merchandise desk hidden upstairs, so that he could purchase some tour merch to take home with him. He ended up getting a very fine-looking black t-shirt with the tour dates on them and was very grateful for the help.

When the music began and JET took to the stage, all the fans in the room merged their passion, energy, and voices to become one massive rock chorus, loud but perfectly in tune and in time to every single song number. While ‘Get Born’ was performed in chronological order, the setlist was not limited to songs from this album. JET also had songs from their other two studio albums including ‘Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is’ which kicked off the concert, ‘Seventeen’ which had Nic Cester laughing and bashfully admitting he had forgotten some of the lyrics, forgivable as many in the audience (including me) didn’t remember the words to that second chorus either. JET even performed a new song titled ‘Little Fish’ which surprisingly fit with the rest of JET’s existing discography like a glove.

While every song was energetic and had patrons singing at the top of their lungs, almost feeling like a powerful religious experience but without the preachiness and all rock music, there were many moments that outshone others. From the ‘Get Born’ album, naturally ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl’ had everyone dancing and bopping along regardless of age, ‘Cold Hard Bitch’ had the audience expressive and elated while shouting in unison, and both ‘Look What You’ve Done’ and ‘Move On’ even brought back the cigarette lighters which were happily slowly swayed around by fans and is honestly a concert ritual that I haven’t seen in years and thought I’d never see again. These days, cigarette lighters are replaced by mobile phone lights and lightsticks, but not at a JET concert.

My favourite performance of the night, however, was when Nic Cester performed my favourite JET song ‘Shine On’ from their second studio album of the same name. Armed only with an acoustic guitar, he performed the song solo and appeared to be embraced by moonbeams due to the gorgeous lighting throughout the ballad. I really wish I had filmed this moment as it was so beautiful not only visually but audibly, the Melbourne crowd joined along with Cester to every lyric. Despite JET performing their first band shows in 5 years, they sounded so good, it’s hard to believe they were ever gone at all.

Summoning long-time and new fans alike, while still converting many others along the way, JET‘s brilliance and magic lives on. For me, their music been a big part of my life and has also been the mutual force that has helped me make many friends at concerts, my latest one being a lovely music fan who flew in from Japan. Also, the concert was fucking awesome. You just had to be there!

JET’s music remains timeless. They are honestly one of the best bands in the world. Ambitious of me to state, sure. However, considering they will be inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame this November, I shamelessly believe that they are right up there with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and will die on this hill. Undeniable is the impact that they’ve made in music in their ever-expanding legacy. Considering the nostalgia fuelled power that they collectively let loose on stage on Friday the 22nd of September at Forum Melbourne in their home city, their magic touch and the phenomena of ‘Get Born’ is as relevant today as it was 20 years ago.

JET’s 20th Anniversary Tour is proudly presented by LiveNation Australia and will have its next stop tonight in Adelaide at Hindley Street Musical Hall before heading to Brisbane’s Fortitude Music Hall on September 29 and concluding on September 30 in Sydney at the Enmore Theatre. With ‘Little Fish’ being performed as their newest song on tour and their ARIA Hall of Fame induction around the corner, let’s hope a new album or another concert tour is on the cards, as I for one do not want this tour to be the last time we ever see JET live.

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Photography by Grant Alexander.

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