I think I’d be struggling to nominate one single favourite part from last night’s “Countdown Spectacular” in Sydney, but Martha Davis came close. As well as loving all three songs she sang, “Total Control”, “Only The Lonely” (a particular favourite) and “Take The L”, I just loved her on-stage presence. As you might expect, her voice is not as strong as it was twenty five years ago, but she still sang with enthusiasm and conviction. And I loved the way she paid homage on her knees to the saxophone player, and the way she lied flat on her back during a guitar solo.
I also loved the way the bloke from Pilot was truly overwhelmed by the way in which the audience sang along with “It’s Magic”. He was just totally spun out, and he loved it. In the midst of so much manufactured pop music, it was great to see someone respond so totally spotaneously.
But honestly, there were so many highlights as each of the performers “competed” against each other for their moment in the sun. Plastic Bertrand jumped around with as much enthusiasm as he did in 1979, M took over the stage as he sang “Pop Music” and the bloke from Racey recognised pretty quickly the audience was there to have an enormous amount of fun, remembering and relishing part of their much loved youth.
So what else? Well, Kate Ceberano was just as good as ever. Although I sometimes find some of her solo work a little boring and self-indulgent, I have a really soft spot for “I’m Talking” her first band when she was a teenager. I remember seeing them on Countdown and being blown away. Compared to most Australian pop music at the time, with its guitar-based rock emphasis, “I’m Talking” were pretty classy and SOPHISTICATED. And I remember vividly seeing her walk around the main block in my hometown of Lismore ahead of a performance later that night at the “Workers Club”. “Oh that’s Kate Ceberano”, I thought to myself as she walked past dressed entirely in black, which made her stand out in Lismore in 1983 or whenever it was. Her performances last night were really terrific, especially “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore”.
Dave Mason singing “Quasimodos Dream” (entering and leaving the stage without fuss) was also good, as was seeing an arena of 50 year olds who had waited thirty years for the chance to sing “No Way, Get Fucked, Fuck Off” in response to “Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again” by Doc Neeson’s Angels. Mr Gravity hasn’t been kind to Doc Neeson and his overuse of make -up made him look more than a little like Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford in “Mommie Dearest” in the famous wire coat hanger scene.
Other highlights included Sharon O’Neill’s “Maxine” which I suddenly realised with my adult ears was about a prostitute having died from a heroin overdose, leading me to wonder how I hadn’t noticed that earlier. Speaking of which I also noticed the uncomfortable look of realisation on many of the faces of those attending when they suddenly realised, also with adult ears, what was meant by the lyrical content of “I Like It Both Ways” by Supernaut.
By the end of the night and the grand finale, the bloke from Supernaut was sharing a microphone with the bloke from the Bay City Rollers, and it occured at that point what a good job the producers had done in putting together a show which appealed on so many levels. It worked as nostalgia, but it also worked as a good contemporary show aimed at a bunch of 40-somethings, mostly suburban, almost exclusively heterosexual and white who want something else to do with their Friday nights aside from sitting at home watching television.