Review: Motor Ace at 170 Russell, Melbourne, April 14th, 2019

If there’s one thing that never fails to get an Aussie music-lover excited, it’s the phrase “reunion tour”.

Back in the early ’00s, it was impossible to get away from the likes of Motor Ace. With their first two albums hitting the top four on the ARIA charts (and the second hitting #1), countless hit singles, relentless touring, and numerous entries into the Hottest 100, Motor Ace were unstoppable.

However, after calling it quits following the release of 2005’s Animal, few imagined that the future would include much else for the band.

Sure, members still played together (most notably in Nighthawk), but we never really seemed to get closer to that elusive reunion.

Thankfully, with the 20th anniversary of the group’s self-titled EP coming around this year, Motor Ace finally announced in 2018 that after well over a decade, they would be hitting the road for their aptly titled, ‘Five Star Reunion’ tour.

Kicking off things in Adelaide late last month, the group’s hometown was set for an electric evening when Motor Ace returned to Melbourne’s 170 Russell once again on Sunday night to cap off this exceptional tour.

Check out Motor Ace’s ‘Death Defy’:

Kicking things off at the nice and early time of 7:30pm, Emilee South and her three-piece band helped get the audience in the mood, delivering an enjoyable set of her self-described “throwback rock’n’roll & psycho-surf” sound.

Instantly jumping into her first song, South and her band delivered a huge sound that completely enveloped the venue, filling it with a rambunctious mix of blues and rockabilly.

While chucking in a couple of slower tunes to help counteract the ferocity of her other tunes, Emilee South undoubtedly kept things lively, dropping in her new single ‘Heartbreaker’, and giving us a taste of her forthcoming single, ‘Shotgun’.

After a criminally-short set though, it was time for these talented musicians to take their leave, undoubtedly having made a few new fans in the process.

Check out Emilee South’s ‘Heartbreaker’:

As more and more fans made their way into the venue, many would have been counting their lucky stars they were there by the time Rya Park took the stage. Backed with a minimal guitar-and-drum two piece, it wasn’t long before she had managed to turn the confines of 170 Russell into more of a stadium for the evening’s second act.

Kicking things off with the sound of a pounding drum beat and a slick guitar riff, Park soon joined in with her powerful voice which was so mesmerising and arresting, that it was hard to turn away for barely a single second.

With an exceptional control of the crowd, Park and her band moved through tracks like ‘Ex Appeal’ and a stunning cover of the Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’, undoubtedly making her a contender to be the next big thing in the world of Aussie rock.

Like Emilee South before her, fans likely would have been happy watching another hour of Rya Park, as they sat there in awe, drinking in the majesty of her stage presence and performance style.

While some may find it hard to describe Park without resorting to comparisons of classic rockers, it was clear to everyone in attendance that she delivers the sort of tunes that you want blaring out the speakers of your car as you tear down the open road.

With cool riffs, pounding rhythms, and a crystal voice that stops anyone in their tracks, it won’t be long before Rya Park and her bandmates are one of the most in-demand acts in the world.

Check out Rya Park’s ‘Tokyo’:

With the crowd well-and-truly warmed up, the audience size in the city venue had swelled to a monstrous size. While tickets were still available on the door at the start of the night, it looked as though it might have ended up as a sell-out before the main event took place.

As the lights dimmed, the audience was met with an atmospheric drone as images of an all-too familiar young band plastered the venue’s screens, showing footage of live performances and studio antics.

Before long, the images faded away and grown-up versions of these same musicians appeared before us. Yes, Motor Ace had arrived to give us a lesson in what Aussie rock is supposed to sound like.

As the opening, echoed riff of ‘Keeping Secrets’ rang out, a wave of nostalgia flooded over the crowd, as memories of the track’s lyrics were brought back in time for a huge singalong of the chorus.

With Patrick Robertson’s voice on full display, it was felt as though barely a day had passed between December of 2005 and today, with Motor Ace performing with the same unbridled energy and intensity as the band that wrote these classic songs up to 26 years ago.

“Sorry it’s taken so long,” Robertson noted to the crowd, before later asking jovially, “are we doing alright for old blokes?”

Check out Motor Ace’s ‘Keeping Secrets’:

Dishing up Five Star Laundry classics like ‘Siamese’, ‘Criminal Past’, and veritable fan-favourite ‘Lorenzo’, Motor Ace were bringing out catchy tunes at every turn, showing that even after so many years away, seeing them live is still the electrifying experience it always was.

Dipping into their final album for performances of ‘Tomorrow’s Gone’ and ‘A Little Closer’, Patrick Robertson soon announced that we were arriving at “the business end of the set.”

While fans might have wondered how anything could be better than this, the vibe soon changed completely by the next song, with ‘American Shoes’ signalling the start of deafening singalongs and widespread moshing from the crowd.

It was clear to see from even just a cursory look around the venue that this evening’s performance was bringing back all the memories of years gone by.

However, the chance of more good memories were hinted at, as Robertson noted that while this evening might be the last show of the tour, the band were “leaving the door open” for future activity.

After dipping into 2002’s Shoot This with ‘Pieces’, the group closed out their main set with a performance of the record’s lead single, and their highest-charting track, ‘Carry On’, leading to impassioned singing from the eager crowd once again.

Check out Motor Ace’s ‘Carry On’:

Following a bit of widespread chanting for more, Motor Ace were back onstage, clearly relishing in the adoration of their devoted followers. “I’m assuming you want some more,” Robertson quipped as the iconic drum introduction of ‘Hey Driver’ filled the air.

As lyrics of “we’re having fun” just seemed to describe the evening’s proceedings, the group took it back to their self-titled EP for a performance of ‘Chromakey’, ending the tune with a noisy rock outro.

However, as the opening bars of ‘Death Defy’ filled the air, it felt as though everyone wished we were back at The Espy, witnessing this track in classic The Secret Life Of Us territory, and singing our lungs out at the tune’s iconic chorus.

As the group thanked the audience, fans, supporters, and everyone they could, they noted the release of a documentary film in the near future, undoubtedly chronicling this reunion tour and all the memories associated with it.

However, this too signalled the end of the night, with a stellar rendition of 2002’s ‘Chairman Of The Board’ sending fans out into the cold April air, leaving them hungry for more from this exceptional group.

With iconic singalongs at every turn and a healthy dose of nostalgia, Motor Ace undoubtedly proved they were still at the top of their game as they delivered a setlist that could have easily doubled as a Greatest Hits album.

While this long-awaited tour might now be done and dusted, eager fans are clearly looking forward to the future with a bit of hope, wondering if we’ll receive more new tunes, or at least more of these stunning live shows.

Whatever the case, here’s hoping we won’t be waiting 20 years for another five star reunion.

Check out Motor Ace’s ‘Chairman Of The Board’:

Motor Ace @ 170 Russell, Melbourne 14/4/19 Setlist

‘Keeping Secrets’
‘Five Star Laundry’
‘Criminal Past’
‘Ride The Wave’
‘Tomorrow’s Gone’
‘A Little Closer’
‘Where Did You Go?’
‘American Shoes’
‘Carry On’


‘Hey Driver’
‘Death Defy’
‘Chairman Of The Board’