Hunt­ing for fi­nal cur­tain call

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - LIVE ’N’ LOUD -

WHEN Mel­bourne band Hunters & Col­lec­tors re-formed for char­ity con­cert Sound Re­lief in 2009, front­man Mark Sey­mour was fairly fi­nal about the chance of it hap­pen­ing again. ‘‘This is it,’’ he said at the time. It took a nat­u­ral dis­as­ter to get them to think of shar­ing a stage again, hav­ing said no to count­less of­fers to re-form since their ac­ri­mo­nious split in 1998.

But two years ago, Hunters re­formed to play a V8 Su­per­cars gig in Syd­ney. At the time, Sey­mour ad­mit­ted the money on of­fer was too much to refuse.

The plan­ets have aligned again, with pro­moter and Hunters tragic Michael Gudin­ski again coax­ing one of his favourite bands back on stage. It was the strate­gic place­ment of mul­ti­ple ducks that got the re­union across the line.

First there’s the re­lease Cru­cible, a tribute al­bum (on Gudin­ski’s la­bel) to Hunters fea­tur­ing Ed­die Ved­der, Neil Finn, The Liv­ing End, Paul Kelly, The Rubens, The Avalanches, Some­thing For Kate, Birds of Tokyo and more.

Then the of­fer to per­form un­of­fi­cial and ac­ci­den­tal footy an­them Holy Grail at the AFL Grand Fi­nal – a slot Gudin­ski picks the musical acts for.

Then a Mel­bourne-only slot open­ing for an act Sey­mour re­spects – Bruce Spring­steen.

Then for most week­ends from Jan­uary to March they’ll tour the na­tion play­ing win­ery shows for the A Day On the Green events, with Some­thing For Kate and Bri­tish In­dia, also on their tribute record. Two theatre shows in Mel­bourne and Syd­ney have been added for April.

‘‘None of those things would have made sense in iso­la­tion, but all of them to­gether was a pretty good in­cen­tive,’’ Sey­mour ad­mits of the re-for­ma­tion.

‘‘We’ve taken all of these (re­union) pro­pos­als on a case-by-case ba­sis. There’s no broader plan. There would have been a real risk in just do­ing a tour for the sake of do­ing a tour.’’

When the band came off stage at Sound Re­lief there was a feel­ing of eu­pho­ria but it was slow re­lease – it’s taken more than three years to com­mu­nally agree to a full tour.

‘‘We hadn’t played to­gether for so long and it was the big­gest crowd we’d ever played in front of,’’ French horn player Jeremy Smith says. ‘‘To play at the MCG and ev­ery­one’s bar­rack­ing for the same team – that doesn’t hap­pen very of­ten. But we didn’t walk off stage go­ing ‘That was so good, we have to re­unite for a tour’. There were not emails fly­ing around to our man­ager to co-or­di­nate a come­back.’’

Sound Re­lief also gave the chance for the kids of the band mem­bers to see their band their fa­thers were in live for the first time.

‘‘My kids loved it, they went nuts at the mag­ni­tude of it all,’’ Sey­mour says.

Band mem­bers are ex­cited about the tour, but are also painfully aware of the work­load in­volved.

‘‘The chal­lenge is get­ting it right,’’ Sey­mour says. ‘‘Tak­ing a pro­fes­sional ap­proach. Do­ing ev­ery­thing by the book. That’s what Hunters were al­ways good at, high-end pro­duc­tion val­ues and be­ing so metic­u­lous the show worked ev­ery night. That’s not a par­tic­u­larly rock at­ti­tude. You go out and make sure the gig works. That’s what makes this a worth­while ex­er­cise.’’

They’ve re­grouped in Rich­mond’s Sing Sing studios to get their AFL set into shape. Don’t ex­pect any cheesy med­leys – they’ll play Do You See What I See and Holy Grail at half time.

‘‘Of course we’re play­ing Holy Grail,’’ Sey­mour says. ‘‘That’s the whole point of the ex­er­cise. We didn’t ac­tively pur­sue hav­ing a footy an­them. You’d get in trouble do­ing that. This is in­cred­i­bly ran­dom.’’

– CAMERON ADAMS

Cru­cible: The Songs of Hunters & Col­lec­tors (Lib­er­a­tion) is re­leased to­mor­row. Hunters & Col­lec­tors play the AFL Grand Fi­nal en­ter­tain­ment pro­gram at the MCG on Satur­day. Hunters & Col­lec­tors, You Am I, Some­thing For Kate and Bri­tish In­dia play A Day on the Green, at Sir­romet Win­ery, Mt Cot­ton, on Fe­bru­ary 2. Tick­ets go on sale on Oc­to­ber 11.

Re­formed Mel­bourne band Hunters & Col­lec­tors, led by Mark Sey­mour (far right).

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