Tom Oliver stars in Rolling Thunder Vietnam.
Tom Oliver stars in Rolling Thunder Vietnam.

Rock songs thunder on stage

UNFORGETTABLE rock songs mixed with real-life stories from the Vietnam War is how Brisbane man Tom Oliver describes the Australian concert drama Rolling Thunder Vietnam which will show at QPAC on March 18 and 19.

The production, which premiered in 2014, is all about conscription, and the turmoil, protest and homecoming from the Vietnam War.

Using video footage and an emotive story, the audience is drawn inside the lives of young men on the battlefront and their families at home.

It's back at QPAC due to public demand.

Rolling Thunder Vietnam is particularly important to Mr Oliver due to his family's military connections.

His father was in the Australian Navy, great grandfather was an Australian soldier in World War I (he was shot in France and captured by the Germans), and his aunt was a singer for the Australian, New Zealand and American troops in Vietnam.

Mr Oliver plays Velvet, who decides to go to war for an adventure and quickly finds out that the reality is very different.

"No one knew what they were getting themselves into," he said.

"When they came home, the response was disappointing, and they had to fight to prove what they did was worthy."

Australian War Memorial director Brendan Nelson is patron of the Rolling Thunder Vietnam tour in 2020.

"The show brings to life stories of courage, endurance, sacrifice and love in the context of the Vietnam War," Dr Nelson said.

"The soundtrack of the show is the pulse of this generation; music that is magnificent and uplifting … Rolling Thunder Vietnam should be seen not just by the men and women who were young in the '60s and '70s but by their children and grandchildren.

"To see this show is to understand us, who we are now, and one of the most significant events that changed and shaped us."

The soul-stirring production features many of the greatest rock songs written and produced, including classics by John Fogerty, Steppenwolf, Buffalo Springfield, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Kris Kristofferson, Gladys Knight and Paul Simon.

They include Fortunate Son, The Letter, Magic Carpet Ride, Help Me Make it Through the Night, Born to Be Wild and Bridge Over Troubled Water.

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