I'm also not going to talk too much about the show itself or the crowd reaction -- in part because I'm told that Perth concert-goers are generally pretty laid back, and also because the lack of video screens and full lighting rig at Burswood Dome means this show is not going to be particularly similar to the others in the series. Instead, I'm going to talk about the set lists for each act.
Here & Now is unashamedly a greatest hits show, and all the artists respected that. Indeed, several of them added songs to their sets which they wouldn't perform overseas because they'd been hits here. Kim Wilde did 'Love Is Holy', though she's already commented in her online diary that the muted reaction may mean this gets scuttled in Adelaide. I love this song so I'm glad I saw it, but the charts would be on her side; 'Love Is Holy' hit #39, while 'Love Blonde' (the likely replacement) reached #32.
Simiarly, Belinda Carlisle did 'Summer Rain' -- a much bigger hit here than anywhere else -- and the Human League did 'Heart Like A Wheel', a song that often gets skipped on Greatest Hits compilations for the group, but which reached #47 back in 1990
Indeed, the League appeared to take the instruction that they should do their hits very literally, opening with the fairly obscure 'Hard Times', which was listed as a double A-side with 'Love Action' way back in the day.
That didn't mean every big Australian smash got included. I'm a bit surprised Mondo Rock didn't do 'Chemistry'. Belinda also favoured 'Circle In The Sand', even though 'I Get Weak', 'La Luna' and 'Runaway Horses' all charted higher. But I'm not complaining, too much. That would be uber-churlish.
Adelaide, November 8: So much for my notion that the set lists would be stuck in concrete. With the exception of Paul Young and Belinda Carlisle, everyone made changes to their sets. As promised, Kim Wilde dropped 'Love Is Holy', but it wasn't replaced with anything. Similarly, 1927 said goodbye to 'You'll Never Know'.
Two new songs made an appearance though: Mondo Rock dropped 'No Time' and added 'Chemistry' (whose absence I bemoaned yesterday), and the Human League dropped 'Heart Like A Wheel' for 'The Sound Of The Crowd', which certainly got the Adelaide crowd going. The League also tweaked the order of their set a little, as did Go West.
Crowd response was, on the whole, much healthier in Adelaide than in Perth -- or so it seemed to me from my luckily excellent seat at stage centre on the fourth row, which I eventually left to groove with complete abandon in front of the stage. The changed setlists may have helped, but I think a bigger factor was that the Adelaide Entertainment Centre is a better venue, with proper lights and a video screen. General 80s fanaticism was also much more in evidence.
In particular, the crowd gave a much more enthusiastic reception to Paul Young and The Human League than they had in Perth. Paul was totally working the audience -- at one point during 'Every Time You Go Away', he jumped right over the barrier and danced with a member of the crowd. Very impressive.
One point to note is that most of the acts share the same stage equipment and instruments, and once the two Australian acts have left, they share most of the same musicians as well. One advantage of this approach is that the changeover times between the bands are minute -- generally under a couple of minutes, and sometimes not even that. The exception is the Human League, who have their own backdrop and extremely impressive high-tech instrumentation. While this looks marvellous, it does take a while to set up (though it was about twice as quick in Adelaide as in Perth). The League must also have the most extensive tour wardrobe -- only one of the outfits they wore tonight was in evidence in Perth, unlike most of the other acts.
Overall, the Adelaide concert was great, and I think better than the Perth one -- though the fact I had to take so many notes there may have clouded my judgement. Regardless, I'm glad that so many changes have happened: it makes me look slightly less insane for following the tour around.
Melbourne, November 10: This was the night where everything fully came together. With set lists now firm (no changes from the previous show) and a hyper-enthusiastic crowd, this was undoubtedly the best gig of the series so far. They even had a video introduction showing all the featured overseas acts, something which didn't appear in Adelaide despite the presence of screens.
Once again I got to watch from the front row, this time with my mate Arthur (who had to race from the airport and missed both Mondo Rock and 1927 in consequence). Although some of the stage banter is now becoming a bit familiar, the thrill of the songs is getting bigger every time, and it's a definite plus having enough room to dance to all the good songs (which is pretty much all of them).
Ross Wilson from Mondo Rock made a point of mentioning he was glad to be back in his home town. Belinda Carlisle's joke that she knew she'd made it when she heard 'Circle In The Sand' in Safeway finally worked, since Victoria is the only state where that brand is still active. Some of the other acts (notably the Human League) have cut back on their stage banter.
Brisbane, November 15: After a five day break, I'd wondered what it would be like resuming the Here & Now fun in the outer reaches of Brisbane. I'd also assumed that the response of the Melbourne crowd would not be outdone by Queenslanders. How wrong I was.
This was by far the most enthusiastic reception to date. The crowd even gave massive applause to 1927, who have suffered the indignity of playing to a half-full room most other nights. (One of the doormen later told me that local radio has been heavily pushing the fact that the concert starts on time; the fact that it's a Saturday show probably also helps).
Most acts now seem happy with their set list, but the Human League caught everyone by surprise by adding two songs to their set. (Their official running time is 45 minutes where the other acts get 30 minutes, so they have some room to manoeuvre.) We got their 1995 comeback hit 'Tell Me When', which most people seemed to like, and then what amounts to their new single, 'Love Me Madly' from Secrets, as an encore. I love this song and was bouncing around like a maniac, but I don't think most of the crowd had a clue what was going on. I suspect that in Sydney, the song will still appear, but might get moved around so 'Don't You Want Me' is the closer gain.
The Australia/New Zealand Rugby match also appeared several times. Peter Cox expressed astonishment that we were at the show rather than watching the game, Paul Young revealed the outcome, and Kim Wilde dedicated 'Kids In Australia' to our successful team.
So far, every crowd has managed to respond more strongly than the one before. Will Sydney top the lot? Well, working in my home town's favour is the fact that the show is already 98% sold out. Looking forward to it!
Sydney, November 17: I really thought the Sydney crowd would have a tough time showing more enthusiasm than Brisbane, but they eventually rose to the challenge. 1927 and Mondo Rock probably didn't get quite the mega-reaction of up north (though they were still very well received), but once Go West hit the stage it was a non-stop screamfest.
Mind you, I was already on a high before the performances even began. I was being filmed for an upcoming MusicMax show called 'Retro-nited' (along with my friend Roulla, who was also attending the concert), so we got to have a proper meet and greet before the show. I collected signatures from Paul Young, Richard from Go West (Peter evaporated just before I could get him to sign), and, most important of all, the brilliant Kim Wilde. Indeed, my chat with her was filmed for the show, even though I probably came over like a psycho blithering idiot as I begged her to incorporate her duet on 'Another Step' with Peter into the night's performance. (They've been rehearsing it for the upcoming UK tour).
Not only did Kim sign a copy of the article I'd written earlier about the tour (which includes a photo of her), she also kissed it, leaving a very impressive lipstick mark! Roulla and I also got to quickly pose for this pic with Kim and Paul. So I was extremely happy before anyone actually took to the stage (we had to race in and missed seeing the opening verses of 'That's When I Think Of You', but everything comes at a cost).
No major set-list changes: the Human League retained 'Tell Me When' and dropped 'Love Me Madly' (not entirely surprising, I guess). But there was a big surprise in store as Kim concluded 'Kids in Australia/America'; all the other performers came out on stage to dance along. This was a really nice finishing note, even though the night wasn't technically over as the League still had to perform.
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