The Nine Network's one-hour TV special of the 2SM Concert of the Decade concert finally found its way to me more than 29 years after the event! Here are many image grabs from the footage to give you an idea of how perfectly the special captured the energy and colour of the day. I have been searching for myself in the crowd as I know exactly where I was standing, but as yet I haven't spotted me. Can you see you?
Some clips of the show have found their way to YouTube now, so I will include a few of those on this page as well. The quality is variable, but it's great that everyone can see this footage now, so many years later. These photos are not presented according to the running order of the show, by the way.
SHERBET The headliners of the show, Sherbet had already fizzled out by the end of '79 and Daryl Braithwaite had gone to Los Angeles to try his luck. He flew back especially for the show. His black t-shirt and skinny jeans foretold the band's metamorphosis to The Sherbs the following year. But on this day they were Australia's biggest pop sensation all over again, singing "Summer Love", "Howzat", "Matter Of Time" and "Another Night On The Road" with their usual fervour. The TV special only featured "Howzat" and "Summer Love" but every moment was pure magic.
Marc Hunter had left Dragon (sacked due to drug issues, in fact) but reunited with his group for this show. Looking back on these photos of a band that eventually lost its two key songwriters in tragic circumstances, it's amazing to see how young and beautiful Marc was, and how focused and serene Paul Hewson looked. They were both dark spirits, but on this day, the Dragon sunshine was shining as they sang "April Sun In Cuba".
He'd had a phenomenal decade, spending about half of it playing Judas in Harry M Miller's production of Jesus Christ Superstar (which I saw numerous times), and the other half starring in the TV mini-series Against The Wind, recording hit singles and in 1979 releasing a double-album greatest hits set cannily titled English History. He was super hot and, as the footage shows, young and extremely black-eyed. His medley of "Turn The Page", "Six Ribbons", "Hollywood 7" and "Superstar" was mesmerising. And I want that t-shirt! I wonder if Jon still has it...
Hush had broken up in 1977 so this was another reformation especially for 2SM. How young and spritely they all look here! They performed "Glad All Over" and "Get Rocked", and Keith Lamb's magical comment about "200,000 people singing" was one of my favourite moments of the day.
He'd had some highly-acclaimed songs and albums in the second half of the '70s, but for this big day he chose or maybe the concert producers requested - his biggest radio hit, "Girls On The Avenue". The thick locks of hair, the cherubic face, the sunglasses... and more than three decades later he hasn't changed!
I was never a fan of "Slippin' Away" but the audience listened in quiet reverence as Max performed it, and then rocked along to "Let It Slide". Max was based in London at this time but flew back for the 2SM gig.
TED MULRY GANG
Loveable larrikins they were, and they had jolly good fun playing the silly but perennially catchy hit "Jump In My Car" on this day. Gary Dixon and Les Hall are joking around on either side of Ted, who looks in such good shape here; it's poignant to watch knowing that he suffered such a sad, premature ending.
I'd almost been too young to know the Masters Apprentices in their heyday, so when Jim Keays took the stage I knew I knew "Turn Up Your Radio" but I really didn't know much about the singer. Having gotten to know him in later years, it's amazing to look back now on this performance in 1979. So young and lean and ridiculously energetic! A fantastic performance. But who on earth are the guys in his band? Check out the one in the last pic. Well, actually, I can tell you who they are, thanks to one of them who wrote to me. Lead guitar - John Moon, guitarist in yellow cap - Bruce Stewart, drums - Nigel Rough, heavily made-up bass guitarist - Peter Marshall.
My lasting memory of the former Blackfeather singer Neale Johns at the Concert of the Decade was his stirring performance of "Seasons Of Change", one of my favourite classic Australian rock songs. However on the TV special the producers chose the bigger hit, "Boppin' The Blues". He had the All-Stars (featuring the yummy Rockwell T James and the boppin' piano player Warren "Pig" Morgan, plus Sherbet's Tony Mitchell) on hand to ensure a great rendition, but those red overalls are totally unforgiveable.
STEVIE WRIGHT The most memorable and moving part of the Concert of the Decade was the mindblowing performance by Stevie Wright of "Evie (Parts 1, 2 and 3)" with members of John Paul Young's All-Star Band as back-up, plus Sherbet's Tony Mitchell on bass and the talented, sexy Hammond sisters, Lindsay and Chrissie, of vocal duo Cheetah, on backing vocals. Stevie's career and life had gone off the rails already so this was a momentous one-off comeback that, fortunately, was preserved for posterity in a 12-minute clip from this concert special that has been broadcast on TV music shows ever since and which looks better every time I see it. It is available in low quality on YouTube but embedding is prohibited, so you will have to go there yourself to see it.
She was Australia's ruling pop queen, long before she became a diva, and she had an infectious joyousness that was hard to resist. Marcia breezed on the stage to sing her huge hit "You", wearing a not too-flattering outfit, but it was colourful, on a day when colour was all, and she did a lot of impressive and groovy jumping and high-kicking.
Speaking of colour, Split Enz had it in spades. While many of the artists on the day came in just regular clothes, Split Enz made costume a feature on a dazzling sunny day when there was so much to look at. They sang "I See Red", appropriate given how bright red kept popping up on stage in many of the bands, and they played up every zany aspect of themselves. This was just before they made it internationally with the True Colours album the following year. It's a good thing Tim Finn didn't completely strangle his brother Neil, as he attempts to do in the last pic here, as Neil went on to write and sing their international breakthrough song "I Got You".
They'd been and gone in a flash during the mid-70s, but it was great to see Ol' 55 back to perform "On The Prowl" on this day complete with 50s rock 'n' roll dancing girls. Frankie J Holden, such a showman, still so young, was on the precipice of a great career that included acting as well as musical theatre. Jimmy Manzie (wearing the token red item of clothing note the red that pops up in different bands on the day), would eventually move to Los Angeles to focus on songwriting. Wilbur Wilde would do many things, including take his shirt off later in the show when he got on stage with Jo Jo Zep and the Falcons.
They'd had a bunch of hits and become renowned as an excellent live band, but Stars were breaking up and the Concert of the Decade was their last performance. Guitarist Andy Durant had cancer. He looked pretty good here, as they performed "Mighty Rock", but he died just six months later, at only 25.
SKYHOOKS With their replacement lead singer, Tony Williams in front, the rest of Skyhooks donned some of their old costumes, with Bob Bongo Starkie the standout with his mass of red clown hair and Freddie Strauks with his back-hugging top. It was good to have Skyhooks as part of a concert lineup that featured hitmakers of the decade, but without Shirley Strachan, Skyhooks were a bit ordinary. They performed "Over The Border" the first single they released without Shirl.
His voice was recognisable throughout the seventies, either from his soulful hits or his countless ads and jingles. He was always in demand, so of course he was included in the Concert Of The Decade, choosing to sing "I'll Be There". His distinct facial hair could be seen no doubt from way up the back of the 200,000-strong crowd. His guitarist's red pants might well have been borrowed from Russell Morris.
JO JO ZEP AND THE FALCONS
More red, this time on Joe Camilleri's head. Jo Jo Zep and the Falcons were a late-70s music delight, the start of a long and acclaimed career for Camilleri. "Hit and Run" was one of the catchiest hits of its day. He always knew how to please a crowd. The band were great, and Wilbur Wilde had now taken off his shirt, which I'm sure thrilled some people out there.
"The Pushbike Song" was a huge hit at the beginning of the 1970s so it was nice to have The Mixtures early on in the show, and hear hundreds of thousands of people singing "ooh ah ah ooh ahhh", the strangest, or possibly most inane, chorus of any song just about ever recorded... and yet a great old Australian song.
She came on early in the show and was then going to be a hard act to follow. What a voice! What a cute smile. Daggy clothes, to be sure, but what a wow performance. What an amazing command of the crowd. Colleen Hewett sang her double hit from the musical Godspell, "Day By Day / Prepare Ye The Way Of The Lord". She was one of the best female voices Australia ever produced, and one of the best performers at the Concert of the Decade. The volume is very low on the YouTube clip but I must share it here as she really was so great.
He was the first act on the TV special and his hit song, "The Real Thing", written by Johnny Young, the record produced by Ian Meldrum, was truly an amazing entree into the seventies for Australian music. This was a terrific performance. The red pants... well... they set off a theme for the day.
THOSE LEFT OUT... Not on the TV special for reasons unknown were Mike Rudd, Norman Gunston, Captain Matchbox, Bob Hudson, Kevin Borich, and more. But it was a pretty fine effort and I never tire of watching the footage and marvelling that I was a teenager in such an amazing time of Australian music and when the bests-ever radio station staged the best-ever concerts. There was no decade like the seventies!!