Spin doc­tor

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Iain Shed­den spin­doc@theaus­tralian.com.au

LET me tell you about a hap­pen­ing, a love-in if you like; an event that had such a pow­er­ful feel­good fac­tor you could al­most touch it. Many evenings late last month were taken up by the Vivid Live fes­ti­val, part of the Vivid Syd­ney ex­trav­a­ganza that lights up that part of the city around and in­clud­ing Syd­ney Opera House for a few weeks each year. SD was for­tu­nate to see some of the il­lu­mi­nat­ing mu­si­cal per­for­mances, in­clud­ing those by Gur­ru­mul and Kraftwerk, but one in par­tic­u­lar is wor­thy of at­ten­tion here. The opera house has flirted with rock mu­sic through the years and ap­pears now to be go­ing steady with it. There was no bet­ter il­lus­tra­tion of this blos­som­ing ro­mance than the per­for­mance by Aussie rock vet­er­ans Sun­ny­boys in the venue’s con­cert hall last Sun­day night. The band, fronted by Jeremy Ox­ley, a singer and song­writer who has suf­fered from schizophre­nia for most of his adult­hood, was mak­ing a rare re­turn to the stage, a re­nais­sance that be­gan last year af­ter a ca­reer that had its hey­day with three al­bums and a host of sin­gles in the early 1980s. Some who saw this per­for­mance had watched a doc­u­men­tary a few hours ear­lier, The Sunnyboy, about Ox­ley’s strug­gle. Ex­cerpts from the film were shown just be­fore the show, which only added to the emo­tion in the room when the four mem­bers of the band — Ox­ley, his older brother Peter on bass, drum­mer Bill Bil­son and gui­tarist Richard Burgman — walked on to the stage. What fol­lowed was 90 min­utes of joy­ous cel­e­bra­tion as the band pow­ered through its best work, in­clud­ing Alone with You and Happy Man. Vivid had be­gun nine days ear­lier with the first of Kraftwerk’s eight per­for­mances, a vastly dif­fer­ent show from this one, not least be­cause of its 3-D com­po­nent. And it has to be said that Kraftwerk, no mat­ter how much you love the band, are a glum bunch on stage. In that re­spect what a won­der­ful con­trast it was to wit­ness Sun­ny­boys, the fes­ti­val’s clos­ing act. The band’s ob­vi­ous de­light just at be­ing on the con­cert hall stage was enough to light up the room and a good pro­por­tion of Cir­cu­lar Quay. Burgman in par­tic­u­lar looked for the en­tire set as if he’d won the lot­tery. And it was re­cip­ro­cal hap­pi­ness. As some­one who goes to con­certs for a liv­ing, SD can at­test that danc­ing con­ducted by cer­tain peo­ple can be an ex­cru­ci­at­ing by-prod­uct of the con­cert ex­pe­ri­ence, an oc­cu­pa­tional haz­ard dur­ing which well-mean­ing fans grap­ple with their un­der­stand­ing of the words rhythm and beat. Good luck to them. How great it was, though, to see hun­dreds of Sun­ny­boys fans with smiles as big as the band’s, but also shak­ing their col­lec­tive booty im­pres­sively and in time to the mu­sic, some of them in the sa­cred aisles of the con­cert hall. It was a funky, shame­less show of sol­i­dar­ity, re­spect and sheer joy by a crowd where the aver­age age would have been 45; not that there’s an age limit on hav­ing a good time. Many acts make come­backs, more now than ever in fact, but I can’t re­mem­ber feel­ing so much love in a room for an Aus­tralian band that, like its au­di­ence, was re­liv­ing its glo­ri­ous youth. It was a fan­tas­tic ex­pe­ri­ence. THANKS again to those who re­sponded to the al­bum cov­ers col­umn items, this time to the 10 favourite Aus­tralian al­bum cov­ers of the 21st cen­tury pub­lished last week. There will be an­other list, yet to be con­ceived, quite soon. HAPPY birth­day to­day to Nancy Si­na­tra (73), Sim­ply Red’s Mick Huck­nall (53) and Kanye West (36).


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