So, we did it: we packed the kids in the car, threw a picnic dinner in the boot, and ran a half hour up the coast to see Mental As Anything play a free gig on behalf of some building development or other that’s going to turn the Two Rocks horizon into a Metro Brick wasteland.
The last time I saw the Mentals live was at the original Australian made concert at Subiaco Oval in 1987. 21 years…… where the hell did that go?
This time, the setting was a local park a street or so from the beach. A beautiful area, it was packed out with stalls, kite displays, and the sort of hand-made revelry you see at tiny suburban fairs thrown together by local councils because why the hell not, they’ve made a surplus this year. It was lovely: we made sand paintings, the kids got their faces painted, sweeties literally rained down from the sky as the kite displays revealed hidden self-operated pinata kite thingies…. We wandered, we sampled, everything was free, everyone was happy.
It ain’t a day out if the faces don’t get painted.
At 8 on the dot, a local support act took the stage. Erin and Connor dragged me up so they could have a look: their first concert experience, and they were instantly hooked. A single girl in her early twenties, with a guitar, a gorgeous voice, and a simple, balladic hook to her songs. Erin may want to be her when she grows up.
Erin Jane Battersby, this is your future.
The boys met friends. The boys disappeared. We didn’t see them again until the music was over, and it was time to leave. It was that kind of evening.
The Mentals took the stage. Or, if I were to be precise about it, Martin Plaza and Greedy Smith took to the stage, along with three other blokes who were helping flesh out the retirement fund. No Reg Mombassa? No Pete Doherty? That’s not Seagull behind the drum kit! Okay, okay, rest the inner fanboy for a moment. It’s the music that matters. Give them a chance.
Fact number 1: I didn’t drive for half an hour to watch a country and western cover band. When you’ve got a 30 year back catalogue, I want to hear your music.
Fact number 2: Cool as it was that they played Lyn’s favourite song, Apocalypso would have been cool, too. Don’t Take Your Love To Town has never been cool, ever.
Fact number 3: Greedy can no longer hit the high notes that songs like The World Seems Difficult demand.
Oh, come, Meester Smeeth. It’s just a waffer-theen meent….
Fact number 4: Martin can no longer hit any note.
The undead corpse of Martin demands braaaaiiinnnssss……
Fact number 5: Stop. Just stop.
It was interesting to note that, whilst the core audience consisted of people our age who could remember the band in their prime, from our vantage point we could see that most who left early were from that self-same core audience. By the time the band had concluded their dozen-song set, most who remained were like ourselves, those who had teenagers roaming the skate rink and climbing frame, or who had a madly-excited six year old because she recognised Mr Natural from the iPod (Of all the songs, this was the one that stood up best, largely because its spoken word delivery demanded nothing from the band). Bizarrely, at the undead zombie second death of their career, they may have picked up a fan in Erin, who spent a significant part of the concert dancing near the stage with her Mum, and another significant proportion begging me to take her back up, whereupon she climbed on my shoulders to get a better view of the stage.
Fangrrl! Anything is worth it to see this kind of delight on your child’s face, even Live It Up
As underwhelming as the concert ultimately proved to be for Lyn and myself (although I should point out that my darling was very bouncy and dancy for the first 4 or 5 songs, particularly as it contained Plaza’s cover of Concrete and Clay), it was a wonderful evening out.
They played Concrete and Clay! They played Concrete and Clay!
As a father of a large family, there’s no happier feeling than watching my kids, out and about, gaining first experiences, meeting friends, exploring new facets of their world. And as a husband, there’s no better sight than a happy, vibrant wife, sharing her happiness with an adoring daughter. So the band’s performance was a tired shadow of their former selves. So what? It is the music that matters, and we have that at home. And next time Erin hears Mr Natural in the car, we’re going to remember something special together.
Woohoo! Past our bedtime! We win!!!!!
We drove home late, tired, full of sugar, and prepared to accept that you just can’t revisit the 80s, no matter how much you tried. Tune in this time next year, when I’ll probably be saying the same thing after going back to see The Uncanny X-Men or Pseudo Echo…..
Alright, Two Rocks! Thanks for letting us out of the freezer! Now, are you ready to mildly Europoooooppppp?
PS: I’ve just noticed how much that last caption looks like Europoop instead of Europop.
PPS: I stand by it 🙂