Hunters & Collectors Live: 3 December 2011

True Believers webmaster at his first Hunters and Collectors concert – the 2011 reformation in Sydney.

Author: Stuart Fenech.

Date: 10 December 2011.

 

Article Text

Hunters and Collectors
ANZ Stadium, Homebush, Sydney, Australia
Saturday 3 December 2011

It started perhaps like any other Hunters and Collectors gig – lights off, smoke, and Assault on Precinct 13. Yet this was no ordinary gig, more than 13 years after their last full gigs in early 1998. And it was no ordinary gig, opening with a massive H&C on a screen behind the band at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium for the V8 Supercars and following Crooked Saint, James Reyne, Noiseworks and John Farnham.

The stadium was set up with the stage at the front, 5000 people could access a fenced inner area, while perhaps 30,000 more people were outside of the fenced area or sat in the stands. The crowd gathered gradually as the races finished, often inebriated before they arrived – perhaps not a bad choice given the price and limited variety of the booze.

The band determined the set list some months via delicate negotiation and was a tasteful cross section of hits and fan favourites. Powering through 17 songs in a 90 minute set, there was minimal banter between songs and the encore break brief. The tracks appeared to be selected from times the band enjoyed the most, with no material from The Fireman’s Curse, Demon Flower or Juggernaut.

Given the advice about avoiding standing in front of the bass amp, there was less hearing damage than may have been anticipated. The volume was reasonable and the vocals, backing vocals, drums, bass guitar, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, keyboards and horns balanced such that no element particularly dominated the others.

As my first Hunters and Collectors gig, this was unsurprisingly a unique experience. Time flew – it was hard to believe they had played as many songs as they did. I was writing down a set list, which became a bit unreliable as I was consumed to the point of regularly forgetting I was doing it.

Set List & Visual

The unexpected visual effects were brought together by Rob Miles, Nigel Randall and former Hunters lighting designer Cam McKaige. The details of the visual effects used for each track are below:

  • 01. Little Chalkie – the large white H&C
  • 02. Do You See What I See? – the large white H&C
  • 03. Talking to a Stranger – edit of video clip (on Natural Selection DVD)
  • 04. Stuck on You – the large white H&C
  • 05. Head Above Water – the large white H&C
  • 06. True Tears of Joy – edit of video clip (on Natural Selection DVD)
  • 07. Where Do You Go? – the large white H&C
  • 08. Inside A Fireball – imagery; the ‘big copper digger’, grenade; red colours
  • 09. 42 Wheels – three trailer road train travelling on western red dirt roads
  • 10. When the River Runs Dry – modernised clip based on original video clip repeating; theme of ‘bank owned’ and ‘profits before people and environment’.
  • 11. Skin of Our Teeth – time lapse series of snails moving, decaying mushrooms and plants; green lights
  • 12. Blind Eye – the large white H&C
  • 13. Holy Grail – edit of video clip (on Natural Selection DVD)
  • 14. Say Goodbye – the large white H&C; red lights
  • [Encore break]
  • 15. Dog – the large white H&C
  • 16. The Slab – edit of video clip (on Natural Selection DVD)
  • 17. Throw Your Arms Around Me – the large white H&C

Little Chalkie

A fan favourite requested by many, the band made the curious decision to open with Little Chalkie from The Jaws of Life. One of my favourite songs, live it conveyed desolation, distance and isolation. An an opening track, it was both a thankyou to fans and a seemingly deliberate challenge to the audience, before returning to more familiar ground with Do You See What I See?

Skin of Our Teeth

We suspected something unusual was in the works from Rob’s stage plan, since Mark had a bass guitar and additional percussion was in the background. It looked like an additional early song could appear, yet exactly what was unclear. It turned out to be Skin of Our Teeth, from the 1982 self titled debut album.

As a treat for the serious fans, this was second to none. With two on bass and two on percussion, this blistering performance took a serious amount of preparation and planning to work. Green lights shone down as a time series video of snails and decaying plants, including mushrooms, loomed behind the band. The effect was hypnotic.

Hunnas Rock

Some most astute punters may have notice the ‘Hunnas rock’ on the stage in front of the drum kit. We have asked what this was about and Rob Miles explains as below.

It is common to place a sandbag in front of the kick drum to stop it moving forward, even though they have spiked front legs. Doug is a very heavy hitter on the kick pedal. They didn’t have any sandbags large enough at the rehearsal studio, so I found that rock in the garden there to do the job. We liked it, so brought it to Sydney. It’s granite, just for the record.

Recordings

An official soundboard recording was not made of the concert. A full professional multi-track recording was considered, but it was determined that there was enough live material already available. This seems reasonable given we already have a similar concert, Under One Roof, in CD and DVD with stereo and 5.1 channel audio tracks. The only recordings that have the potential to surface are unofficial bootlegs.

Merchandise

The three shirts were available for $40 each but the merchandise stand was in a shocking position. People had to go out of the main stadium, up some stairs to a series of strip shop like areas, and happen upon walking by the merchandise stand. When they got there, though, out of everything they had to choose from, the two young attendants were wearing Hunna’s shirts.

Despite the challenges, more Hunters and Collectors shirts were spotted during the show than for the other acts. People wearing shirts were often asked where they found the shirts. The shirts themselves are well designed, have great artwork but not the best material. Spare t-shirts are now available for purchase online.

Behind the Scenes

The V8’s access passes provided a mild form of entertainment. The people implementing the access levels had minimal training and ran by only a small number of hard rules.

I was fortunate to have an ‘AA’ pass, which theoretically meant I could access all areas except the stage. Not knowing exactly how this works, I approached a staff member, who had to get her supervisor, who then advised me this access meant I was allowed to watch the concert in the audience. The reality, as discovered later, was that if you just walk around looking purposeful and determined with the ‘AA’ pass, no one cared. The mistake was asking.

The best pass entertainment I saw was reserved for Rob Miles, who attempted to enter the barricaded area in front of the stage. As Rob merely had an ‘AAA’ pass but not a pretty red armband, he was stopped by security. No amount of rational explanation of being in the band or that ‘AAA’ means ‘Access All Areas’ could get him through the two young gentlemen. Rob let it go, commendably managing to not lose his cool at the sheer madness of the situation.

Before the gig, True Believers got the experience of the band room while John Farnham was playing out the front. The band room was full of band members, partners and their families. Manager Michael Roberts, regular roadie Stan and more support could be seen moving through the room. A handful of long term fans were there, including Sydney’s Dave Skinner, who had the gig of band chauffer for the weekend.

The rider was about as expected. A dozen or so bottles of wine, three bottles of vodka, a bottle of Jack Daniels, a bottle of Jamieson and a large bottle of sambuca were on one table. A few cartons of VB and James Boag beer shuffled through the fridge. Antipasto and fruit platters put a relatively healthy looking touch on the alcohol. I knocked off some VB from the fridge, which had a set list that I did my best to ignore sitting on it.

The dominant mood of the band was nervousness. Barry could be seen, guitar in hand, picking away while chatting with friends and family. Mark sat with an acoustic guitar practising Blind Eye, with Jack adding backing vocals. The nervousness of the band was balanced by the confidence of the entourage.

From what I can gather, the band room afterwards was overwhelmingly positive, though being perfectionists, the band thought they could have done a bit better. In turn, future gigs are not being ruled in or ruled out…

Note

A big thankyou to Hunters and Collectors and crew – especially Rob, Miriam, John, Lesley, Dave, Dave and all the fans that made Sydney a great and unforgettable weekend.

Suppressed

After Noiseworks, an announcer from radio station MMM introduced a winner of “X Factor” was performing as a surprise. A young man who looked 15 or 16 – but was 17 as it turns out – came out and broke into a cover of the Guns and Roses track Paradise City. It’s vague from there as there were drums playing but no drummer, and, as we slowly realised, two air guitarists. All I can recall is that two songs were sung.

Seems the talented young chap, Reece Mastin, is all the rage at the moment, but his manager should be fired for putting him in front of this audience. Cruel boos and yells of ‘poof’ and ‘get off’ could be heard from about half the crowd. That does not count people like me who were simply confused. Truth is, he is just not what ageing rock punters dig.

 

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