A rock extravaganza showcasing a selection of some of Australia’s finest artists from the 70s, 80s and 90s, the Pure Gold Live concert series began as a show to commemorate the 90th anniversary of Sydney’s iconic venue, the Hordern Pavilion. The Hordern is, in fact, where my own live musical memories were born (that is, if you don’t count a lunchtime performance at my high school by AC/DC in 1973). Following the success of that first Pure Gold Live concert in Sydney, the hard working folk at Empire Touring have taken the show on the road to several other towns, with some variations in line-ups and concert titles. Last year’s series of concerts was a huge success and the concerts are back in 2016, bigger and better! Friday night it was Melbourne’s turn when Pure Gold Live returned to another iconic music venue, The Palais Theatre in St. Kilda. Pure Gold Live gave us three hours of hits from no less than seventeen acts whose collective catalogue of music saw us through all three of those decades… and beyond…
The line-up featured a smorgasbord of hit makers from the 70s, 80s and 90s, performing some of their biggest hits from the era. For your info, I have included the set list below. These are the hits that many of us grew up with and, as cliché as it might be, formed the soundtrack to our lives from the 70s through to the 90s. It was a three hour trip down Memory Lane for those of us old enough to remember those times. Then there was the young boy in the front row, no doubt raised on the musical memories of not only his parents but most likely theirs as well! He seemed to know every word to every song, having the time of his life as he danced up a storm all night to songs that were written decades before he was born. Proof that the music that we knew and loved 30 years ago lives on.
Swanee opened proceedings with his hit ‘If I Were a Carpenter’. He might have only had one song to perform on the night but he certainly made the most of the moment by stepping off the stage and wandering through the crowd, getting up close and personal with the fans. Next up was a rare appearance by Sharon O’Neill with ‘Maxine’; then, musical director Paul Gray stepped out from behind the keyboard and strapped on the keytar to front his old band Wa Wa Nee for their songs ‘Stimulation’ and ‘Sugar Free’.
Moving Pictures, who are currently doing a run of shows to celebrate the 35th anniversary of their ‘Days of Innocence’ album, nailed it with ‘Bustin’ Loose’ and ‘What About Me’; Shane Howard gave an awesome performance of ‘Razor’s Edge’ and ‘Solid Rock’ complete, of course, with didgeridoo. The projection behind him of Uluru lighting up the stage in shades of orange and red provided the perfect backdrop.
Deborah Conway was in fine voice as she sang her solo hit ‘It’s Only the Beginning’ and her hit with Do Re Mi, ‘Man Overboard’. The first set culminated in a special performance by the reformed Kids in the Kitchen who, on Friday night, played their first ‘live’ show together since the late 80s. This performance was a prelude to their tour next month as support to Culture Club. The three song set (‘Change in Mood’, ‘Bitter Desire’ and ‘Current Stand’) by KIK drew an overwhelmingly positive reaction from the audience, most of whom were on their feet and cheering loudly throughout the set, clearly happy to be seeing the band play again after nearly 30 years.
After a very short break, there was a brief performance by a band of young musicians, collectively named 'Band of Gold', brought together by host radio station 104FM just 12 days earlier.
Then, to kick off Set 2, Sean Kelly got the fans going with a flawless performance of one of Models’ biggest hits from the 80s, ‘I Hear Motion’ and you could definitely hear the motion as fans began getting on their feet. Personally, I would like to have heard more from Sean as I would with some of the other singers who were only on stage for one song. Obviously, working within the logistics of time constraints when faced with such a big line-up can be challenging and that was really my only complaint.
Paul Norton was up next with his hit ‘Stuck on You’, followed by Wendy Stapleton with ‘Play the Game’; 1927 performed their very popular ballads, ‘That’s When I Think of You’ and ‘If I Could’; Steve Kilbey exhibited some of those unique dance moves that he has become known for when he performed ‘The Unguarded Moment’ and ‘Under the Milky Way’. Yet another legend of Australian rock, Richard Clapton played two of his big hits, ‘Deep Water’ and ‘Girls on the Avenue’. I would have liked him to throw in ‘I Am an Island’ as well but I guess you can’t have everything.
Pseudo Echo had some technical glitches to start off with which meant their first song was more or less an ‘unplugged’ and, if I am not mistaken, slightly abridged version of ‘A Beat For You’ but the guys simply took it in their stride. Shit happens, as they say and by the time they launched into ‘Listening’ and ‘Funky Town’ they were really firing. The last act of the night was Eurogliders. It was a long wait but well worth it when Grace Knight and Bernie Lynch hit the stage with their hits ‘We Will Together’ and ‘Heaven (Must Be There)’. Grace’s energy takes my breath away… literally.
The finale was a tribute to the late Stevie Wright who passed away at the end of 2015. For this tribute, some of the artists took turns to sing the three parts of Stevie’s classic hit from the 70s, Evie Parts 1, 2 & 3. Part 1 was a duo performance by Scott Carne and Dale Ryder; Alex Smith from Moving Pictures was a perfect choice to sing the softer ballad Part 2 and the enigmatic Adam Thompson from Chocolate Starfish had the honour of closing the show with the rockier Part 3.
Pure Gold Live promised to be a huge night of magical music memories taking us back to that happy place in our lives that we remember through our favourite songs and the artists that gave them to us and, thanks to all those who were a part of the show, it delivered.
Review by Sharyn Hamey
Swanee – ‘If I Were a Carpenter’
Sharon O’Neill – ‘Maxine’
David Sterry – ‘Send Me an Angel’
Wa Wa Nee – ‘Stimulation’, ‘Sugar Free’
Moving Pictures – ‘Bustin’ Loose’, ‘What About Me?’
Shane Howard – ‘Razor’s Edge’, ‘Solid Rock’
Deborah Conway – ‘It’s Only the Beginning’, ‘Man Overboard’
Kids in the Kitchen – ‘Change in Mood’, ‘Bitter Desire’, ‘Current Stand’
Sean Kelly – ‘I Hear Motion’
Paul Norton – ‘Stuck on You’
Wendy Stapleton – ‘Play the Game’
1927 – ‘That’s When I Think of You’, ‘If I Could’
Steve Kilbey – ‘The Unguarded Moment’, ‘Under the Milky Way’
Richard Clapton – ‘Deep Water’, ‘Girls on the Avenue’
Dale Ryder – ‘Dancing in the Storm’, ‘Onion Skin’
Chocolate Starfish – ‘You’re So Vain’
Pseudo Echo – ‘A Beat for You’, ‘Listening’, ‘Funky Town’,
Eurogliders – ‘We Will Together’, ‘Heaven (Must Be There)
Evie Parts 1, 2 & 3
Scott Carne and Dale Ryder – Part 1
Alex Smith – Part 2
Adam Thompson – Part 3
Check out our full photo gallery from the show here