Gusworld Here & Now Australia Diary
The concert of the decade!
Jump to the latest entry (Monday November 17)
As soon as I heard that the Here & Now concert series -- a staple for 80s-obsessed music fans in Britain over the last four years -- was coming to Australia, I made the impetuous decision to attend every one of the shows, even though this would involve flying all over the country. Having done so, it only seemed sensible to share my observations with everyone else, especially people hanging out waiting for the final show in Sydney. Bias admission: I like every single act on the bill. Sloth admission: I still haven't scanned in all the artwork and tickets.

SET LISTS
Artists in order of appearance (billing order is, of course, reversed).

1927

  • That's When I Think Of You
  • You'll Never Know (Perth only)
  • Compulsory Hero
  • If I Could

    Mondo Rock

  • Summer Of 81
  • Cool World
  • State Of The Heart
  • Chemistry (not in Perth)
  • Come Said The Boy
  • No Time (Perth only)

    Go West

  • Don't Look Down
  • Call Me
  • We Close Our Eyes
  • King Of Wishful Thinking (in Perth, these last two songs in reverse order)

    Belinda Carlisle

  • Live Your Life Be Free
  • Mad About You
  • Circle In The Sand
  • Summer Rain
  • Leave A Light On
  • Our Lips Are Sealed
  • Heaven Is A Place On Earth

    Paul Young

  • Wherever I Lay My Hat
  • Come Back And Stay
  • Love Of The Common People
  • I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down
  • Every Time You Go Away

    Kim Wilde

  • Chequered Love
  • View From A Bridge
  • Cambodia
  • Love Is Holy (Perth only)
  • If I Can't Have You
  • You Came
  • You Keep Me Hanging On
  • Kids In America

    The Human League

  • Hard Times
  • Love Action
  • The Sound Of The Crowd (Not in Perth)
  • Heart Like A Wheel (Perth only)
  • Human
  • Open Your Heart
  • The Lebanon (order of these previous two songs reversed in Perth)
  • (Keep Feeling) Fascination
  • Mirror Man (order of these previous two songs reversed in Brisbane and Sydney)
  • Tell Me When (Brisbane and Sydney only)
  • Together In Electric Dreams (order of this and 'Mirror Man' reversed in Perth)
  • Don't You Want Me
  • Love Me Madly (Brisbane only)

  • Perth, November 6: This was a monumentally exciting show for me; it was brilliant, it rocked, I had a great time. Because I'm writing an article about the tour, I got to hang out in the green room beforehand, which was quite a revealing experience. But I'm not going to rave about that straight away.

    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.

    Random observations:

  • Kim got the crowd to sing 'Happy Birthday' to her brother Ricky between 'Cambodia' and 'Love Is Holy'.
  • Phil Oakey effectively sang 'Open Your Heart' as a solo while the girls went offstage to get changed.
  • I only spotted one person in the crowd who had made a deliberate attempt to 'dress 80s'; she had a very fetching pair of pink and black socks. I imagine there'll be more of this as the tour progresses.

    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.

    Random observations:

  • Three whining girls in the row in front of me spent half the show complaining that they couldn't see because of people standing in front of the barrier, and that this wasn't fair because they'd clearly paid more money for their seats than people from further back. In fact, all the tickets for the floor were priced identically, and frankly, if you get seats on the floor, you have to expect that people will stand up. If you're too short to see, sue your parents, don't make us suffer.
  • Various posts online suggest that most of the artists were out drinking until the wee small hours in Perth on Thursday night/Friday morning.

    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.

    Random observations:

  • I finally purchased my merchandise this evening: a program, a concert T-shirt and a Human League T-shirt. Pity there isn't merchandise for the other acts as well (the fact that the League are touring the UK solo in December probably has something to do with the availability in their case).
  • I don't think a lot of Melbourne-ites were prepared for the concert actually starting on time at 7:00pm -- people were wandering in right through to when Belinda was performing her set. The breaks between acts are also now very brief; even the long changeover for the League is getting quicker.
  • I had the impression that the sound mixing in the Human League set was a bit off -- but this could have just been the venue.
  • By a total coincidence, I was on the same plane to Melbourne as Paul Young.

    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!

    Random observations:

  • One area where Brisbane didn't score well was in keeping mics active. The first verse of 'That's When I Think Of You' was entirely un-miked, and there were problems with the acoustic guitar solo in 'Every Time You Go Away' as well. On the whole, the crowd doesn't seem to mind.
  • In his act, Paul Young referred to an earlier injury he'd suffered at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre when he fell off the front of the stage.
  • A couple of email correspondents have taken me to task for not providing specific critiques of each artist. I've decided not to do this until after the concert series is over, but rest assured, it will happen eventually.
  • Something else I'll add after the concerts have finished is a comprehensive series of links to media articles about the tour. However, I can't resist plugging my own article in the The Bulletin about the Perth concert ahead of time, as it were.

    Myself, my friend Roulla, Kim and Paul 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.

    Random observations:

  • 1927 dedicated 'Compulsory Hero' to Slim Dusty. (In Brisbane, it was dedicated to the Australian Navy.)
  • This was the only show where I didn't get to stand in the front row -- because the Entertainment Centre has so little space between the front row and the barrier that there's only just enough room for the people who've paid for those seats to stand up, let alone anyone else. Still had a marvellous view though!
  • Kim had a brief forgetful moment lyrics-wise during 'You Keep Me Hanging On'.
  • Programs in Sydney were $20, which is odd, as in Melbourne they were $15. Maybe it was to pay for the correction stickers over the listings for Brisbane and Sydney, which say 'December' instead of 'November' in the original printing.


    MAILClick here to contact Gus

    GUSWORLDReturn to Gusworld Central