Mark Seymour Live: 8 December 2005
Jaded from work a long way from home, True Believers webmaster Stuart stumbles into a Spiegeltent in Melbourne.
Author: Stuart Fenech
Date: 10 December 2005.
I have been sent out of my Queensland home state for most of the last month. Thankfully, I have spent this time in the home town of Mark Seymour and Hunters and Collectors, Melbourne. At this time of year, Melbourne offers relatively pleasant weather through lower humidity and generally cooler temperatures. Melbourne also offers great food and music through politics and music.
Jaded from working long hours on a difficult project, I was pleased to be able to escape on Thursday night to a Mark Seymour gig. Thankfully, the gig was easy walking distance from my hotel of the week in Collins Street. Walking down Swanston Street towards St Kilda, the quirky Spiegeltent, positioned amongst many art buildings, was hard to miss. Wearing a hideous orange business shirt, in no time I met up with Internet fans Jenelle and Hanlon.
The Famous Spiegeltent is based on a 1920 or so German travelling cabaret. The strange artwork surrounding this large circular tent celebrates larger women. The men and women who work at the Spiegeltent all dress in likable retrospective German clothing. Given that 1920 was positioned between two horrid wars fought against the Germans, I found this celebration of German culture fascinating. I was told later than the Spiegeltent has also appeared in Sydney and Adelaide and can be transported in two moderate sized trucks.
While no Brisbane venue, it was fairly hot inside the Spiegeltent. It became clear quickly that this was one very strange audience. The bar in the corner sold German beer and wine to the punters, which was all being consumed in moderation. The crowd was subdued and controlled, with most people sitting. The many balding heads reinforced the fact that this was the oldest crowd I have ever seen at a Mark Seymour gig.
Light was shining into the room from above the stage when Mark took the stage, with Tony Floyd on drums and Cameron McKenzie on guitar. The sun gradually disappeared as we soaking into the gig. The set list was as follows:
Thursday 9 December 2005
The Famous Spiegeltent, St Kilda Road, Melbourne
01. When The River Runs Dry
02. The Ghost of Vainglory
03. Try Not To Try
04. Head Above Water
05. See You Around
06. True Tears Of Joy
07. Do You See What I See?
08. Ready To Go
09. Paradise Downunder
10. Good Old Boys Stuff
11. Holy Grail
12. What’s A Few Men?
13. The Slab
14. In The Kitchen Of A Perfect Home
15. Throw Your Arms Around Me
16. Parting Glass
The audience was quiet and respectful during the songs, with only some chatter right up the back. During every song, the audience was captivated, focused entirely on Mark. After every song, the audience gave a measured, polite clap. I have never seen anything quite like this and Mark, not used to this level of focused attention, was pleased though slightly rattled.
One quite excitable fan at the front of the room engaged Mark in conversation. Fan Brian must have talked about the early days of the Hunna’s, as Mark commented along the lines of ‘he still has the gas cylinder’. Brian was waving his arms by himself and loving every bit of the gig. Mark was without beer, so Brian eventually went on a quest to get beer, being cheered on his walk after Mark declared ‘ladies and gentlemen, Brian’. It turns out that Brian is a doctor who works as a sex therapist.
Before playing “In The Kitchen Of A Perfect Home”, Mark made some announcements. Mark mentioned that it was Sofia’s birthday, and hence dedicated the song to Sofia ‘hoping to hell she never ends up in the situation depicted in this song’. Mark also said hello to another audience member from a ‘friend in Queensland’, before mentioned that this song about about that friend in Queensland.
“Ready To Go”, “See You Around” and “Parting Glass” sent shivers down my spine. Mark’s vocals were in fine form and during these songs, you could have heard a pin drop in the room. It was like the audience was not there, and it enabled you to immerse yourself in the songs. As Mark remarked, ‘thank God for the Speigeltent’.
Immersed in the great atmosphere of the Spiegeltent, the gig passed disturbingly quickly. Mark, Tony and Cam were back on stage fast for an encore, as the subdued crowd made an impressive amount of noise once they left the stage. Mark signed CD’s afterwards before disappearing backstage.
I found myself backstage, standing out like a fish out of water. To my surprise I walked past Paul Kelly, who was playing next as a separate gig. Mark and Rob commented on their favourite Paul Kelly song being ‘Maralinga’, off the Gossup album. Cam’s favourite is ‘Wintercoat’, while mine is ‘Deeper Water’. Taking a couple of guitars out to the car, the obsessed may be interested to know that Mark now drives a Subaru Impreza.
A few of us ended up next door at the pub having a couple of drinks. Occasionally people came up to Mark to thank him. I went to get a couple of beers, Mark insisting that the beer being Victorian, but no Victorian beer was available. It was discussed that Paul Kelly was playing 100 songs of his at the Spiegeltent, from A to Z, over four nights. The night that we were there was the last of the four nights. I commented that we could happily make a setlist, which would include “Judas Sheep”. Mark commented that he could never do what Paul is doing.
Mark and Cameron are working on a fourth Mark Seymour studio album. The first hint is that there will a strong traditional Irish influence. Mark is working on a song inspired by Nikita Khrushchev (Soviet Union First President from 1953 to 1964) and Australian Prime Minister John Howard call “Man of Wisdom” (or similar). New material should be appearing at gigs within the next few months. Mark may try out “You Stole My Thunder” at the gig on Sunday.
It was a great gig and a good night – make sure to check out the Speigeltent if you get the chance.