Monthly Archive for February, 2008

The Statue at Last

The bagpiper

This is how it happened.

All of a sudden the stage went quiet. A lone piper started up. We could see him on the big screen, and we could hear him. But we couldn’t find where he was. From a high balcony somewhere in the showgrounds came a haunting wail. From far beyond the grave, Bon Scott’s rotten lungs were pumping air through a tartan bladder for the very last time.
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Nightfall

THE PENULTIMATE CHAPTER OF “THE UNVEILING”
nightfall

Night fell on the Claremont Showgrounds. The Party Boys were on stage. Through the speakers came the first unmistakable clang of an AC/DC riff. The crowd went absolutely nuts. We’re talking stampede, fists pumping the air, with either a single index finger pointing to heaven, or else the index-and-little-finger “rock on!!” combo.

During the course of the day, all the bands I saw perform (Rose Tattoo, Noiseworks, The Angels, The Screaming Jets) had played original songs. Jackie, of the mother-daughter combo we had met earlier, had a theory about this.

“You know why?” she said. “Think about it. Everyone’s playing their own songs. Nobody is playing AC/DC tracks. Why do you reckon that is? Well, think about it! Who do you think might be coming on stage later as “special guests?!”

She gave me a significant look.
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Rhonda and Bernice Vernice

PART 9 OF “THE UNVEILING”
rhonda and bernice
[Vernice and Rhonda. (Not Bernice and Rhonda, as I had thought). Thanks to Kara-Lee for clarification… ]

OK, I have to start out with an apology. It was late in the day by the time we met Rhonda and Vernice, and my memory has totally packed it in. Hmm. Lets see what I can dredge up.

The sun had disappeared, that much you can tell from looking at the photo itself. I seem to remember Mish getting worried that we hadn’t spoken to enough women. It was something she was conscious of all day, being in such a male environment.

In fact, even before she arrived at the concert, Mish sent me this message from the train:

Sent
24-Feb-2008
15:01:42
This is such a
boys own thing.
There are a
bunch of middle
class men with
their sons. One
is wearing an
acca dacca shirt.
No women to be
seen.
Sender
Mish

So when we spotted Rhonda and Vernice sitting on the grass, Mish decided to even up the gender balance and go chat with them.

But what did we talk about? Help me Rhonda Mish, if you’re out there!

Angus Angus Angus…

PART EIGHT OF “THE UNVEILING”
first angus
[Angus Number One…]

I know this blog is supposed to be all about Bon Scott, the lead singer of AC/DC (at least until his untimely death in 1980). Bon was obviously a charismatic guy, well loved by all who knew him. During the last month, I’ve heard the following mantra many times: “As far as I’m concerned, when Bon died, AC/DC died with him”.

But it would be wrong to identify the band solely with Bon, the frontman, the showman, the ladies man, the man with the tight pants. For there is another, equally powerful element in the group, an element that lives on. That element is not a man at all. It’s a boy: Angus, the skinny-legged schoolboy guitar virtuoso. And although AC/DC hasn’t performed live since 2001, you can still catch Angus with his cap and tie and shorts and satchel on stage every single night of the week, performing simultaneously all around the world.
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Fuck the World

PART SEVEN OF “THE UNVEILING”
red
[Red displaying his new tattoo…]

Although Red looked a bit intimidating (to say the least) with his broad muscular back and “FUCK THE WORLD” tattoo, our courage was bolstered by bourbon and caffeine and sugar and loud music.

“Besides,” Mish said, “if he didn’t want people to see his tatt, why would he have his shirt off?” And as it turned out, he was friendly enough, just like everyone else in the crowd.

Mish wanted to mention that he ought to put some sunblock on his already heavily reddened back. But she held back. Smart move. Sunburn was the least of Red’s concerns.

Red’s tattoo was fresh and crisp and well executed. He’d only gotten it it a few weeks back.

Me: “And, ah, well, so, hmm, what does, I mean, what is the meaning, ahem, why those particular words…”

Red: “You mean, why FUCK THE WORLD? I had a bad week, that’s all. Hence: FUCK THE WORLD.”

He didn’t tell us why his week was so bad, but we believed him alright. His mate chimed in, jerking his thumb in Red’s direction. “He’s got nine lives, this guy!”

Apparently, a while back Red crashed his hotted up VS Holden ute into a pole on Eddystone Avenue. He’d been barrelling along at over 200 kilometres per hour. He didn’t have his seatbelt on, nor did his passenger. Both came out without a scratch.

Forty Nine Concerts

PART SIX OF “THE UNVEILING”
volker
[Volker’s denim jacket]

Meeting Volker was a highlight for me. He wore a denim jacket, 90% of whose surface area was covered with meticulously stitched AC/DC fabric patches. “My grandmother sewed these on for me!” he told us.

Volker is German, but he lives in Tasmania now, where he teaches surveying at the university. I wondered how he can afford to work at all, given his extra curricular AC/DC obsession. In his lifetime, Volker has attended 49 AC/DC concerts! Can anyone out there beat that??

Here’s how he did it: when he used to live in Germany, Volker would tour around Europe in a van, practically stalking the band, going to every single gig they played. But it’s been a long, long time between drinks – AC/DC hasn’t performed live since 2001. Perhaps that’s why he threw in the towel and got a career. You’ve gotta pass the time somehow, I guess.

I asked Volker about the German music scene. “Australian heavy rock is huge in Germany”, he said. “All these bands we’re seeing today, Rose Tattoo, the Angels, they have a very loyal following over there.” So he was disappointed to find that when he migrated to Australia, his beloved rock acts hardly ever play here any more…

Alcohol and Burnouts

PART FIVE OF “THE UNVEILING”
jackie and her clan
[Jackie, Amy, Roisin, Melissa…]

We headed back to the stage. Noiseworks were on now, their lead singer Jon Stevens swaggering around the microphone stand. “You know, he still looks pretty hot!” Mish exclaimed.

But her gaze wasn’t just idly taking in the rocker’s rugged good looks. Mish kept noticing family groupings in the crowd around us. She had an especially keen eye for mother-daughter duos. Dancing behind us were Jackie and her 13 year old daughter Amy. Jackie also has an 18 year old son, and a 16 year old daughter. “They’re all here somewhere!” she said cheerfully.

Just then her 16 year old, Melissa, rocked up with her mate Roisin. Jackie told the girls to pose so their picture would end up in the Bon Scott Blog. And so it has.

“Did your mum bring you up listening to this kind of music?” I asked Melissa. “Yeah! We were raised on alcohol and burnouts!” she said, gleefully raising her AC/DC stubby holder to the sky.

Three Boys from Fae Fife

PART FOUR OF “THE UNVEILING”
three lads from Fife
[Kev and Andy and Ian]

After a pee, we really started to get into the swing of things.

“Hey Lucas, what about those three GUYS IN KILTS!!” Mish shrieked. We scuttled towards them. The kilts were on the move, they looked to be heading thirstily towards the bar. But it wisnae hard to catch up since they kept getting waylaid by other fans also wanting to take a photo.

Their names were Kev, Andy and Ian, and they’ve travelled all the way from Fife in Scotland, just to be here for the statue unveiling. Dedication? Well, sure. But people travel half way around the world all the time to attend cultural events, don’t they? And when they travel, tourists usually try to grab a souvenir or two to take home with them, right? A postcard or a keyring or a photo of themselves standing in front of a monument. Right.

But have you ever met anyone so passionate about an event, that they felt compelled to tattoo its name and date onto their inside wrist? I hadn’t either, not until now anyway.
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I Touched his Hand

PART 3 OF “THE UNVEILING”
me with vicki and janine
[The author in his Bon-Crotch singlet with fans Vicki and Janine…]

By now I was full of bourbon and coke, and busting for the loo, so we walked back to the pavilion. But half way there, it was my turn to be accosted. Two nice ladies, Vicki and Janine, spotted Hana’s drawing of Bon Scott’s crotch on my singlet and they wanted a closer look. Back in the seventies they used to go out together to see bands around Perth. “Once,” Vicki said, “at a concert, I actually touched Bon’s hand.”

Mish asked what it was about Bon that made him so appealing, so intriguing. “Everything about him – the whole package. He was sexy, cheeky. He had great stage presence,” Vicki said.

I asked if they still listen to AC/DC these days. “Oh, not much, any more. Mainly just the top 40, you know, on the radio and stuff,” Janine says.

Janine and Vicki have known each other since they were six months old…

I HEART BOYS IN BANDS

PART 2 OF “THE UNVEILING”
megan in her custom t shirt

We spotted a girl with a home-made Bon Scott T shirt. “Quick, give me one of those cards with your blog address on it!” Mish said. And with that, she had joined the team.

She darted forward and tapped the girl on the shoulder, breathlessly blurting out: “Hi I’m Michelle and this is Lucas and he’s an artist from Sydney doing a blog all about Bon Scott and it’s really great and he’s writing about fans like you and can he take your photo and put it up on the web?” She was into it, of course. How could she refuse a request like that? Her name is Megan.

Megan was there with her husband Kim, but they’d left their six year old son at home. “Maybe soon he’ll be big enough to come to concerts, but not yet,” she said. Megan had doctored the front of her shirt, so instead of reading “I HEART BOYS IN UNIFORM” it read “I HEART BOYS IN BANDS”. Although she was the one with the customised Bon Scott shirt, Kim is the real fan. He’s got tons of memorabilia on display in his domestic shrine to Bon. I told Kim about Bec’s photographic project. He said he’s already seen her ad in the local news, and will definitely get in touch with her…