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They may have joined forces for their Across the Great Divide tour and enjoyed the previous night drinking sake together, but you could hardly start calling Aussie's biggest rock bands Powderchair or Silverfinger. Both bands had drummers in black singlets but the Brizzies and the Newcastle lads had little else in common on stage.

Whereas Silverchair played a big, bold and at times, baffling set, Powderfinger's was a solid, salt-of-the-earth rock gig that revealed a reliable repertoire.

The 'Finger drew mostly from material from latest album Dream Days at the Hotels Existence for a beefy set that exhibited the brute force of three guitars on stage.

Lively frontman Bernard Fanning found a relaxed rhythm, rousing the crowd with cries of "Ole!" when he wasn't making cheeky jokes about an All Black who might also like his sake.

Waiting for the Sun was the first big crowd pleaser; later Fanning strapped on his acoustic for Lost and Running and a stirring rendition of Sunsets before favourites such as My Happiness had the crowd up in arms.

That the band have been together for 13 years shows - they barely need to look at each other yet stay completely in sync. But this was also the end of a boozy, 2 1/2-month tour, and occasionally their set suffered the residual effects of that hangover, particularly when John Collins' bass cut out temporarily on I Don't Remember.

But Fanning switched to harmonica or maracas and sang through a vocoder, and keyboardist Darren Middleton practically humped his instrument, they proved they could really pull finger.

Silverchair looked and sounded like otherworldly freaks compared with their down-to-earth mates. Teasing the audience with strobes as frontman Daniel Johns, in white shades, took the stage, they launched into a shocker of a start, a cacophony of screeching guitars and distortion that left the crowd bewildered. It wasn't until their first early hit, Emotion Sickness from Neon Ballroom, when Johns revealed a black waistcoat - "It's not going to get any prettier," he mused - that the band's muscle and grit came together through the music too.

Theirs was a set big on exciting, stadium-sized theatrics that showed flickers of brilliance yet fell a little short on the songs. Some of the newer material from Young Modern, with their strangely disjointed melodies and kooky dischords, felt too ambitious to truly engage the crowd.

Elsewhere it was a thrill hearing old hits from Frogstomp, the album that broke them as teens, particularly the rousing, Coldplay-style treatment they gave Open Fire. But when they did get it right they were electrifying. "Make me feel famous, Auckland!" yelled Johns before the venue pulsed to Straight Lines, this year's hit. It showed just how far their songwriting has come. since the grunge-metal of Freak.

Across the Great Divide it was but the joint gig also proved there's not really such a thing as typical Aussie rock, and that each band could do worse than absorb something from the other. Then we'd have a truly great trip across the divide.