JOHN TYRRELL talks to Rock Club 40 about Tribute Mania

This Saturday 3rd September, Melbourne’s iconic Palais Theatre will be bursting at the seams with some of the biggest hits of the 50s, 70s, 80s and 90s when Tribute Mania comes to town for its debut show. Featuring five of the biggest and best tribute acts, Tribute Mania will have the fans singing the classic hits from The Beatles, Abba, Queen, Elton John and The Spice Girls in this highly authentic looking and sounding show.

“There are five bands and you’re going to get the best of Abba, the best of The Beatles, the best of Queen, the best of Elton John and so on. Each band plays for 40 minutes playing the best songs of some of the biggest bands of all time,” the man behind Tribute Mania, John Tyrrell, tells us.

John is not only responsible for putting the show together; he also created both Bjorn Again and The Spicy Girl and is the drummer for Bjorn Again as well. While Bjorn Again have been around for nearly three decades, The Spicy Girls is his most recent brainchild. Explaining how he came up with the idea, John tells me, “The Spice Girls were the most successful female act of all time. The Bjorn Again camp basically relocated to London in ‘92 because of the demand there.  Once we moved there, Bjorn Again became huge and we saw the Spice Girls then in the mid ‘90s and everyone went nuts for it! And then in ‘98 we got asked to support them on their Spice World stadium tour which included two of their big sell out concerts at Wembley Stadium. I always thought they were really great songs, great characters. Last year it was 20 years since ‘Wanna Be’ came out and I thought I might just start auditioning and see who I could find. I thought this was going to be a lot of fun and that’s why we included them in Tribute Mania. The Spicy Girls have done a couple of shows and the crowds have gone absolutely nuts! The timing is perfect now for girls in their 20s who were very young when Spice Girls were around. People are singing along and having so much fun. That’s what I like creating. Bjorn Again is a lot of fun and I think Spicy Girls is going to be the same.”

Tribute Mania features five tribute acts. “The show starts with the Beatnix,” he explains, “who are a long time Beatles band from Sydney. They started in the ‘80s. They are the first ever tribute band. They go back a long time and they are really good at what they do and they are just thrilled to be part of it. There are so many Beatles songs they have been having arguments for the last three months trying to work out which songs to do in forty minutes. They’ve got the accents down, they look the part. They’ve got the Beatles drum kit and guitars and amps. Then the next act is Elton Jack. Elton Jack is another Sydney guy called Lance Strauss. He went on Hey Hey It’s Saturday’s Red Faces in 1987 as an Elton John impersonator and I think Ossie Ostrich said ‘You should call him Elton Jack’. Whispering Jack from John Farnham was released that year I think. It stuck and I remember Daryl at the time saying that this is just too good to be an act on a show like this. Why don’t we have you back with a full production so he used to come back a couple of times a year with a full band doing his Elton John show.  So that’s how Elton Jack started and he has been touring all around the world since then and he got his start on Hey Hey It’s Saturday on Channel 9 so that’s a really good story.”

Next on the list is The Australian Queen Tribute Show. “There’s a lot of Queen Tribute shows around the world and in Australia,” he concedes. “I think they’re the best one. It really depends on the Freddie and Gareth is a really good Freddie.  Freddie was such a unique individual and Gareth’s got that down pat. He’s busy doing lots of gigs all around Australia and they’ve been going at least ten years I think.”

Headlining the show will be the band that John created in 1988. “Bjorn Again is the most successful tribute band, endorsed by Abba and still going really strong and in demand worldwide. Only a couple of months ago, we played in Hong Kong for the Rugby 7s tournament with David Hasselhoff and The Proclaimers. I could tell you lots of stories about that! Bjorn Again has travelled around the world and we’ve met just about everyone. Our number one fan is David Roth. He is the biggest Bjorn Again fan and we’ve met him many times. They used to come and see us in Melbourne before they were big. When they had their first gig at The Palace in St. Kilda, they came down the night before to see us play and we just didn’t know who they were and then we saw them become the biggest band in the world by ‘92 and we said ‘Hey, they’re those guys who came to see us in Richmond!’ and then they invited us to play when they were headlining at the Redding Festival in the U.K. in ‘92 and they said to the promoter ‘If you don’t add Bjorn Again to the bill, we’re not turning up.’

The band also recently supported Culture Club on their Australian tour. “George is a big fan. In fact, backstage he said ‘Can you find an imposter for me and have him go out and do all the touring instead of me?’ We did a lot of big Gay Pride things with George in the U.K.”

Saturday night’s Tribute Mania promises to be a great show. As John says, “The production levels are going to be high and all the bands will be authentic. There are five bands to play between 7pm and 11pm for forty minutes each. It will be a song feast with some of the biggest hits of all time. And it will be a lot of fun.”

Tribute Mania is at the Palais Theatre, St. Kilda in Melbourne Saturday 3rd September. For more information and to book tickets, click here.

 

by Sharyn Hamey

 

  Copyright © Sharyn Hamey 2016.  All rights reserved

Last updated by Sharyn Hamey Sep 2, 2016.

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