WHEN BANDS CALLED THE SHOTS
COAST ENTERTAINMENT VENUES DREW THE BEST OF THE ROCK ERA IN THE SEVENTIES AND EIGHTIES BUT AT TIMES THERE WERE ‘COWBOYS’ ON AND OFF THE STAGE
I wrote this column about nine years ago which was a follow-on from about nine years before. am repeating it again as I see old entertainment venues and bands around the Coast have been featured prominently on Facebook recently.
This column has two distinct themes: over40s discos, and live entertainment and live touring bands.
I will address the former first. I was reminded by a reader of the old Stewarts Hotel (where Seaforth is now) at Alexandra Headland, where one of the favourite haunts of the over-40s was the Pioneer Grill.
The Pioneer Grill had plenty of velvet drapes, booths and the wonderful voice of Max Mandell.
Those were the days. I can remember going there thinking how up-market it was (obviously out of my class).
If only it existed today. It probably would still be a bit above me but at least I have matured a bit.
At the risk of repeating myself, I wrote a column many years ago about touring bands and I thought I would relive some of it, starting at the mid-’70s.
Stewarts at Alex had a bar strangely called the Windjammer Room, and the very first band I went to see was Clapton.
I thought it was Eric but it turned out to be Richard — but he was and still is a legend.
That pub used to get the good acts but the room wasn’t that big.
So Stan Elson, who had bought Surfair, turned it from a 4.5-star hotel to a band venue and retail bottle shop money-making machine.
In any given week, it would have Midnight Oil, Cold Chisel, INXS or Split Enz, for example. Stan was very good at getting the big acts but then Mooloolaba Hotel got in the act with bands including the Angels.
Then Stewarts built the massive Galaxy Room which basically got all the big acts because of its capacity.
Effectively, at one stage in the central part of the Coast, there were three major band venues plus nightclubs scattered from one end of the region to the other.
A blogger who once accused me of being an old fuddy duddy did remind me about a couple of noise issues I was involved in as I worked at Surfair and Mooloolaba at different times (not at Stewarts, though, as I was actually barred from there at one stage).
The first noise issue was at Surfair where the boss tried to get Split Enz to turn the volume down, as he had a guest in a room complaining.
Ironically, it was during the band’s famous song I See Red.
They wouldn’t do it, of course, so he turned the power off. That nearly started a riot.
Eventually, no compromise could be reached so he turned it back on.
The guest demanded his money back and said he was checking out in the morning.
The boss obliged but helped him check out then and there.
The other incident imprinted in my memory was The Angels at Mooloolaba.
When the band members were asked to turn it down, they refused and it eventually ended up in a melee between staff and the roadies.
The end result was the lead singer Doc Neeson nearly knocking himself out on a low-lying support beam on stage when he jumped in the air during his performance. He vowed never to return.
My most vivid memory, though, is some punter after a band complaining to the police as he thought his mate was in the back of the paddy wagon and wanted to go with him.
The old sergeant told him politely three times he wasn’t but the guy persisted so old mate put him in the back.
It was the dog van.
Sounds a bit like the
Wild West, doesn’t it?
‘WHEN THE BAND MEMBERS WERE ASKED TO TURN IT DOWN, THEY REFUSED AND IT EVENTUALLY ENDED UP IN A MELEE BETWEEN STAFF AND THE ROADIES.’