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Rolling Thunder Vietnam - Review

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by Roy Chambers (subscribe)
Lover of all things interesting and new
Event: -
Relive the music of the Vietnam war era
This combination concert and "drama" promises to bring the music and conflict around the Vietnam war to various locations across Australia. I was lucky to catch the performance in Brisbane which amounts to a great nostalgia fest.

Let's start from the beginning. Rolling Thunder was the bombing campaign against North Vietnam during the Vietnam war. Okay so the US military loves to give their operations cool names but the concert has nothing to do with this bombing campaign that killed somewhere between 50,000 and 180,000 civilians.

Operation Rolling Thunder
Operation Rolling Thunder

The concert is preformed brilliantly by a talented young cast that includes Kimberley Hodgson, Tom Oliver, Wes Carr, Matt Pearce, Vanessa Krummenacher and Will Ewing. The music of course rocks and songs include Magic Carpet Ride, Fortunate Son, All Along the Watchtower, Paint It Black, Run Through the Jungle, People Get Ready, Killing Me Softly With His Song and Bridge Over Troubled Water.

But it was the weirdest rock concert I have ever been to. Despite most of the audience being grey haired baby boomers you could tell that they wanted to get up and dance, but the venue meant that the audience could at most bop their heads and sometimes clap along.

The "drama" is simply the performers talking to the audience describing some general information about the Vietnam war as well as some personal experiences. Most of the story will be things that the target audience will already be familiar with and that time. While the singing is brilliant the acting is only so so. The story told is mostly the cliche of the Vietnam war though you could tell that the audience was engaging with the story.

The relationship between the drama and the concert is fairly loose. The impression is that they chose the most popular songs from the period and found some words to try and tie them together. This isn't to say that the story doesn't contribute to the experience, I just feel it could have been done better.

Overall it it is a lackluster event. The promised multi-media spectacular was not much more than a few videos of US troops, some photos of Australian soldiers and some substandard graphics. The male characters don't even change into uniform when they join the army while the two female characters are given a change of clothes as the only indication that the times are indeed changing.

This is a nostalgia fest for people who grew up in that era and this was the audience who turned up and clapped along. The performers received a well deserved standing ovation and during the encore, with everyone standing, we could actually dance along. Something the organisers should have realised people would want to do for the whole concert.

The show will be touring around Australia from August to September. Ticket prices vary between venues. Generally from $55 up to $99. Maybe worth it if you are looking to recapture the spirit of the 1960s.

Dates & Locations

TOOWOOMBA - Empire Theatre
Friday 8 August 7.30pm
Saturday 9 August 7.30pm
Click here to book or call 1300 655 299

SPECIAL PREVIEW: Tuesday 12 August 7.30pm $59 special price.
Thursday 14 August 7.30pm
Friday 15 August 7.30pm
Click here to book or call 136 246
Groups 10 SAVE! Call Group Bookings on 07 3840 7466 or email

CALOUNDRA The Events Centre
Saturday 16 August 7.30pm
Sunday 17 August 3pm
Click here to book or call 07 5491 4240

Friday 22 Aug 7.30pm
Saturday 23 Aug 2pm & 7.30pm
Click here to book or call 1300 182 183
Groups 10 SAVE! Call Group Bookings on 1300 002 787

SYDNEY State Theatre
Friday 29 August 7.30pm
Saturday 30 August 7.30pm
Click here to book or call 1300 182 182
Groups 10 SAVE! Call Group Bookings on 1300 889 278

NEWCASTLE Civic Theatre
Wednesday 3 September 7.30pm
Click here to book or call 02 4929 1977

CANBERRA - Canberra Theatre
Sunday 7 September 2pm & 6pm
Click here to book or call 02 6275 2700

NOWRA Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre
Thursday 4 September 8.00pm
Click here to book

PERTH Crown Theatre, Burswood
Thursday 11 September 7.30pm
Friday 12 Sept 7.30pm
Saturday 13 Sept 2pm & 7.30pm
Click here to book or call 132 849

HOBART Wrest Point Entertainment Centre
Tuesday 16 September 8:00pm
Click here to book or call 1300 79 52 57

ADELAIDE Thebarton Theatre
Friday 19 September 8pm
Saturday 20 September 8pm
Click here to book or call 08 8225 8888
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*Roy Chambers was invited as a guest
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Why? Relive the Vietnam war era through the most famous songs
Where: Various locations around Australia
Cost: Ticket prices vary between locations from $55 to $99
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