Silver anniversary is gold

The thing I like about old rockers is that their music can speak for itself. All they really need to do is switch on the microphone, make sure the speakers are positioned, nod to the lead guitarist or the drummer, and they’re away.

If you’re lucky, they may pop on a clean shirt, or perhaps brush their hair. But that’s not mandatory. Because all you want is the music. It’s all they want too.

And that’s what John Farnham is like. An old rocker, who understands what his audience wants from him, and he delivers. Consistently.

I’ve seen Pink, Kylie, and some other recent teenage sensations live on stage. These lovelies are all about the extravaganza. I guess that’s why you pay the big bucks. To be wowed by set design, costume changes, pyrotechnics and acrobatics. Granted, Pink is a great singer. But the trapeze act leaves me a little startled. Whitney Houston was a farce. Celine wanted a lot of money for very little ROI.

Yet last night, at Brisbane’s Lyric Theatre, my old mate John, brought home the goods and then some.

Most marriages don’t last as long as my one-sided love affair with John Farnham. It all started around the time he did his version of “Help” where his bluesy-funky-ballad style became his first anthem. He jived a bit with Little River Band (mind you, I always preferred Glenn Shorrock but don’t tell John that). Then, in 1986, with bagpipes blasting, he instructed us to “make a noise and make it clear” because after all, we were The Voice.

And he was The Man.

Together we took the Pressure Down, whilst giving each other Reasons, all brushed with a Touch of Paradise. Our Two Strong Hearts started a Chain Reaction and became the Talk Of The Town.

(Only serious Farnham-ites will get that last paragraph.)

My fervently patient first husband lumbered along to the Brisbane Entertainment Centre with me as much as he could. When John Farnham played the lead role in the extended run of the stage musical Jesus Christ Superstar, he drew the line to spending every Friday night watching a mock crucifixion.

I was ok with that because it meant I didn’t have to find anyone to babysit our one-year-old daughter. And I could throw roses on the stage without fear of humiliation.

During the early days of my first relationship post-marriage, I realised quite quickly that I needed to initiate my new lover to the traditions of my long-term lover.

“Darling, I am afraid I can’t be monogamous,” is usually not an ideal fashion in which to begin a new relationship. Granted, my new boyfriend came along with me a few times to meet John, and was quite content to witness my screaming, panting carry-on that occurs every time I see him perform. So I don’t think the ménage trois  was the reason we didn’t work out.

My next boyfriend just said no, flat out. No way, no hell, no nothing was he even going to come close to the mullet, even though I had assured him the mullet had been left behind in the 90s. He was a little uncomfortable about my passion for John. One time, during a heated moment, he actually said, “Oh for goodness sake, why don’t you just go and shack up with John Farnham, you seem to think he’s the ideal man.”

Little did he know how much I would have liked that…

Now, I’ve been John perform at Expo 88. I saw him on the green at Sirromet Winery. (That was a bit of a funny night because I think John was a bit pissed before he went on stage. Wineries have that affect). I saw him do The Main Event with our girl Olivia and Anthony Warlow. I saw him at Royal Pines Golf Course on the Gold Coast. I saw him at the Sydney Olympics.

I saw him at “The Last Time” concert. Then I saw him at his “Last Last Time Concert” and at his “OK Folks, Sorry For Misleading You, Here’s Another Concert” concert.

That’s why it came as no surprise to hear he was doing another round of the capital cities of Australia to celebrate 25 years since the release of his comeback album Whispering Jack. It’s still the highest selling album in Australia. Of course it is, it’s brilliant.

Alan, my superb husband of eight weeks and one day, mercifully embraced the idea of coming with me to see John. Mind you, I figured a bit of marital duty might have been going on but certainly no hint of jealousy. He looked impressed when John did his usual stunt of throwing the microphone stand high into the air and catching it on its earthbound return. So 1970s, I love it!

He smiled when I left my seat beside him to stand patiently in line by the side of the stage to shake John’s hand – one of John Farnham’s gifts is his availability to his audience. You want to come for a kiss and a photo, then you are welcome. Film the whole bloody concert on your smartphone if you want! Load it up to YouTube, or share it on Facebook, he couldn’t care less.

That’s a true star in my books.

When the audience roared to its collective feet when the encore version of “You’re The Voice” began with its signature introduction complete with bagpipes, Alan was right beside me clapping away. And he was first at the merchandising stand at the end of the show, demanding to know if John had issued any items in pink.

Thanks John Farnham, I had an amazing night, I hope to see you again next year.

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