Thursday, August 27, 2009

Department of Rock

The flagship premises of Myer, Melbourne's best-known department store, is currently undergoing major renovation. A retail institution of the city renowned for its window displays each Christmas, the Bourke Street-fronted building has been reduced to a shell as part of an extensive redevelopment project. Another aspect of these works, the proposed demolition of the Art Deco building Lonsdale House, has met with public opposition.

The Myer complex has a somewhat unlikely link with AC/DC's 1975 Melbourne sojourn.

The band was booked to play a series of free lunchtime shows in late August in the young ladies’ fashion department, the “Myer Miss Store”. The week of music lasted barely one song. Bedlam ensued as the first concert was stormed by hundreds of hysterical female fans. The band was forced to flee and as Myer staff surveyed the wreckage left in their wake, the week’s remaining shows were cancelled.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Rocking at the Croc

AC/DC’s Melbourne stint was a blur of live performances at locations ranging from the Glen Waverley High School and the Ivanhoe Grammar School (both of which witnessed an AC/DC show on the same day in April 1975) to suburban beer barns such as the Waltzing Matilda Hotel in Springvale and Icelands in Ringwood.

The group criss-crossed Melbourne’s suburban sprawl in their ex-Ansett tour bus for gigs at venues such as the Southside Six Hotel in Moorabbin and Chadstone’s Matthew Flinders Hotel (where drummer Phil Rudd broke his thumb in a fight in September). Melbourne singer/songwriter Stephen Cummings has written of these pubs as being “seas of tables littered with overflowing ashtrays and hundreds of jugs of beer”. Physical altercations were not altogether uncommon, AC/DC’s road crew reportedly taking on the Heidelberg Sharps during one lively evening at Preston’s Council Club Hotel.

One venue that saw quite a bit of AC/DC during 1975 was the Croxton Park Hotel in High Street, Thornbury. Between February and October, it hosted eight AC/DC shows. Now equipped with poker machines, the Croxton Park is a different pub these days but still hosts live performances and employs the marketing slogan, “Still rocking at the Croc”.

AC/DC contemporaries from the mid-70s, Rose Tattoo and The Angels have both played shows at the Croxton Park in the last 10 months. The Angels became labelmates of AC/DC in 1975 when, after supporting AC/DC on their South Australian tour, Bon Scott and Malcolm Young recommended the Adelaide group to Alberts. When the group reunited for a tour in 2008, they played the Croxton Park on 4 December.

Another group that AC/DC steered to Alberts was Rose Tattoo. The group’s first four albums were produced by Harry Vanda and George Young (older brother of Malcolm and Angus) – the team at the controls during the early AC/DC records. Angry Anderson and the boys were on stage at the Croxton Park Hotel on 4 July this year.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Elsternwick Antics

Seminal weekly music television programme Countdown began in 1974, broadcast from the national broadcaster’s studios in Gordon Street, Elsternwick. It served to introduce many Australians to both the sound of AC/DC and the antics of Bon Scott and Angus Young. Put simply, the Countdown cameras loved AC/DC. Executive Producer Kris Noble has spoken of the excitement that the group brought to the set. “The cameras used to go flat out, it was really hyper in the studio.”

AC/DC made their Countdown debut on 29 November 1974 and were regular gatecrashers of Sunday family dinners all over Australia in the months that followed. Murray Engleheart and Arnaud Duriex, authors of AC/DC history Maximum Rock & Roll, calculate that the group featured on the programme on 38 occasions between this debut and December 1976 (including four appearances in the month of June 1975). One of the more memorable outings was on 23 March 1975, when Bon Scott smirked and smoked his way through the group’s performance of Baby, Please Don’t Go while dressed as a schoolgirl complete with pigtails.