“Audiences know he’ll bleed for them!” Michael Gudinski and Warren Costello on Jimmy Barnes
Friday, May 31 marks the release of Jimmy Barnes’ My Criminal Record (Bloodlines) – his first long-player of new material in almost 10 years, and his first rock record since 2010’s Rage And Ruin.
May 31 is also the day that tickets go on sale for a lengthy 18-date spring tour.
The Shutting Down Your Town tour, announced this morning, will see Barnes and band head across Australia and New Zealand in September, October and November.
The trek marks Barnes’ first headliner at Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion since the late 1980s and his first ever headliner at Melbourne’s Margaret Court Arena and Brisbane’s Riverstage.
Barnes will be accompanied at various points by Jet and Eskimo Joe.
“It’s going to be a shit-hot tour!” exclaims Mushroom Group chairman Michael Gudinski who, with Bloodlines managing director Warren Costello, talks to TMN on the formidable team which put the album and tour release package together.
It included Barnes, Gudnski and Costello, Barnes’ manager John Watson, Frontier Touring and Barnes’ long-time booking agent Frank Stivala of Premier Artists.
Costello: “Although Jimmy hadn’t released any new material for almost a decade, he had been incredibly busy.
“There was the writing of the two books, Working Class Boy and Working Class Man, and the documentary, and the book tours which were over 50 shows each, through Australia, New Zealand, Glasgow and some UK cities.
“It was an opportunity for him to tour in a different matter.
“The Working Class Boy tour was just a three-piece band with stripped back arrangements
“It was a new audience for him in some ways.
“They knew Jimmy Barnes the singer but not Jimmy Barnes the human being, the immigrant child who went through hardship in his early life, and the spirit which he fought back with, and which is still evident in his writing and his performance to this very day.”
“It was very cathartic for him to write those books but I don’t think they came easily. The first one took a very long time.”
Penning the books triggered off in Jimmy much of the songs on the new record.
Some were co-written with Cold Chisel’s Don Walker.
The bridge between the two books and My Criminal Record was the lead-off single ‘Shutting Down Our Town’.
It was written by Troy Cassar-Daley especially for Barnes, after he finished reading Working Class Boy.
It was about the rough industrial Adelaide suburb of Elizabeth where Barnes grew up.
Barnes would later say, “I drove through Elizabeth not long after I heard the song, and I felt a pain in my heart for the people there who are battling, trying to make a living when everything is stacked up against them.”
Gudinski: “It’s the first time I’ve had a radio station ring me and say it was the hottest researching song … and they don’t play many new songs.”
Barnes said in a statement that as a result of the books, he’s more in touch with the emotions in the songs, and better able to express them as a result.
“The raw power and volume is still there, but it’s modulated by a new self-knowledge and sensitivity.
“Now, I know why I’m singing it. I know why I’m feeling it. I know why I have to get it out now, and writing the books helped me identify it.
“I still sing about the same things, but now I know exactly what I’m singing about.”
For My Criminal Record, Barnes surrounded himself with a red-hot band, with upfront production by Kevin Shirley, and some tracks cut with Bob Clearmountain with whom the singer worked in the ‘80s.
Gudinski: “My Criminal Record is one of the best albums he’s made, and one of the best albums he’s made in a long time.
“The title is the best title he could possibly get, a wonderful double entendre, and ironically he hasn’t got a criminal record.”
Barnes wanted to rush-release the album but Watson, in particular, insisted that it be delayed.
Gudinski: “John wanted all the ducks in a row first. The packaging, the timing was so well set up.
“I applaud John. Way back then (when Watson was a music journalist) he used to write bios for Mushroom Records.
“He’s a stunning artist manager. His work is uplifting.”
Costello has a definite explanation of why Barnes continues to be a massive live drawcard.
“It goes down to the respect he has for his audience. He has a connection that not many artists have.
“When people come to a Jimmy Barnes show, they know he’ll bleed for them. He’ll put his heart and soul into it.
“The number of shows he’s had to cancel over the years you could count on one finger.”
For Gudinski, My Criminal Record and the tour will take Barnes up to a whole new level.
“I’m so proud of this record. He hates me saying this, but the less he screams, the more his voice sounds better.
“’Reinvents’ is not the right word. But he’d endless and he’s such a part of Australian society.
“He’s come back mentally and physically. He’s had another lease of life, he’s just loving it.
“The resilience, the honesty … the people who have grown up with him have stayed with him, and there’s plenty more.
“He’s like a Bruce Springsteen.”
‘My Criminal Record’ is available to pre-order here. Tickets to the ‘Shutting Down Your Town’ tour go on sale to the general public at 9.00am local times on Friday, 31 May 2019. For all dates and venues, head to Frontier Touring.