Mark Seymour Live: 27-30 May 2004

True Believers webmaster Stuart mingles with celebrities and fellow obsessed fans and beer soaked nutters during a weekend of local fun in Brisbane.

Author: Stuart Fenech

Date: 31 May 2004.

 

Article Text

I had the pleasure of attending three Mark Seymour gigs from the 27th to the 30th of May in Brisbane. Only one gig, in Mooloolaba, was not able to be attended. I hope you enjoy my musings over the three nights of gigs. These were written up in very limited time frame, I apologise for any errors. Some time in the coming weeks, a fan interview that I recorded with Mark (and Rob at times) before Thursday’s gig will also be put on the Internet.

 

Thursday 27 May 2004

Downtown Gillhooleys, Brisbane (city)

Set List

01. The Ballad Of The One Eyed Man

02. Sad Songs

03. Waratah Street

04. When The River Runs Dry

05. Try Not To Try

06. Made Man

07. Flower In The Dark [new]

08. Holy Grail

09. In The Kitchen Of A Perfect Home

10. 43 In The Shade

11. Throw Your Arms Around Me

12. Shoulder To Cry On

13. Ghost Of Vainglory

14. Ready To Go

15. Lorelei

16. Eye Of The Needle

17. Last Ditch Cabaret

18. What’s A Few Men?

19. On My Way Home

[encore break]

20. The Patriot Game

21. Richard Cory

22. Back In The Hole

23. Long Way Down

24. Home Again

25. Turn Me On *

26. Paradise Downunder

27. Parting Glass
* “Turn Me On” is a cover, originally written by John D. Loudermilk and popularised by Nina Simone in 1966. Recently, a cover version featured on Norah Jones popular “Come Away With Me” album.

Mark’s first Brisbane gig in nearly three years occurred at a small venue deep in the metropolis of Brisbane city last night. Selling out around midday with 250 tickets was not a bad achievement for a Thursday night, even if Thursday is the notorious ‘student night’ in the city, renowned for cheap alcohol. The venue, Downtown Gillhooley’s, had a smallish stage with a small ‘dance area’, surrounded by a few tables, with an elevated bar and seating area behind the ‘dance area’. It was a fine performance by Mark, performing solo this time around.

The venue proved to be a bit of a problem when combined with some elements of the audience talking. Mark was clearly hearing a lot of chatter during the songs, which annoyed him intensely. Fairly early on Mark asked everyone to ‘shut up’ because of difficulties with all of the noise and then slightly into “The Ghost Of Vainglory”, stopped and spoke quite angrily. After this point, when people started talking, members of the crowd yelled “shut the f*ck up” to the talkers. A lyric in “Last Ditch Cabaret” not so subtly changed from “as we move into the crowd” to “as we SPEAK into the crowd”. In all fairness, when looking around, very few people were talking around where I was, though the chatter was obvious. As Mark said, the venue was not really suited to an acoustic performance.

For perhaps the first time I have seen, most people at the front of the gig sat down on the floor. This started in an effort to not block the view of people behind us and seemed to catch on. It did mean that in some ways the front of the gig was not as ‘lively’, but everyone got a view.
The chatter was a disappointment, given that Mark does not make it up to Brisbane that often.

It was clear there were a number of people in the room who had “Embedded”. One man who I did not know kept trying to get “Don’t You Know Me?” played (he was not successful). There were clearly a lot of people in the audience who were around my age, too young to have seen Hunters and Collectors live. When Mark mentioned “Embedded” there were some cheers from the audience. When Mark mentioned that this is not Hunters and Collectors, “just me”, the loudest reply was “then we’ve come to the right place!”. There was a good distribution of Mark fans familiar with his work, something often missing in Mark gigs.

A couple of young men in black shirts thought they would attempt comedy by yellow out “show us the percussion”. Early on, Mark was not sure what was being called out and replied “no, I will not show you my tits”. After calling for Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam, Mark told the young men that they were “really annoying”. Someone from there also yelled out “show us some passion” at around the fourth song, which clearly agitated Mark. After gradually introducing “In The Kitchen In A Perfect Home” by talking about the pleasures of Surfers Paradise, make dedicated it to man ‘in the black shirt’, “sitting around with his bottle of Jack Daniels thinking ‘what the f*ck have I done?'”.

Two songs that I have not heard before made the set list. The first was a song I have titled “Flower In The Dark”, which Mark is writing for a movie soundtrack on the 1984 Lindy Chamberlian (‘dingo stole my baby’) story. It is a slower, sad song, one that I think we are going to hear more of in the future. The other new song was a cover, “Turn Me On”, a slightly unusual one for Mark, being a song that seems written from the female perspective. Mark responded to a comment from the audience around this time by adopting a lisp to claim “at least I’m real”.

Mark has had a clear change of heart in regards to Hunters and Collectors songs, with five of them making it into the set list. “When The River Runs Dry” works surprisingly well in acoustic form. Before “What’s A Few Men?”, Mark spoke intensely over the origins of the song and disgust over our lack of independent foreign policy. “What’s A Few Men?” was written by Mark after reading World War One Albert Facey’s memoirs in “A Fortunate Life”.

People were slow to start making a noise for Mark to return for an encore. Thankfully they eventually got the idea and Mark returned to the stage for the best part of the gig. After returning to the stage, Mark commented about the Irish bar we were in and he was going to play an Irish song. For some reason I am still not absolutely sure about, the chatter finally more or less stopped and there was an eerie silence from the crowd as Mark performed “The Patriot Game”. Vocals in fine form, “The Patriot Game” was impressive live and received a far greater applause at the end than “Holy Grail” and “Throw Your Arms Around Me”. The flip side to the chatter being so loud was that the applause was very loud and impressive, particularly spectacular after “The Patriot Game”. Miffed at the stunning response, Mark shrugged his shoulder with his arms extended to Rob Miles. Of all the songs played, “The Patriot Game” was the one to command some well deserved respect.

The success of “The Patriot Game” led, I believe, to the encore being longer than anticipated. 27 songs long, this ended up being about a two hour gig, noticably longer than any other Mark gig I have attended. Interestingly, more noise was made when Mark left after “Parting Glass” than during the encore break!

 

Friday 28 May 2004

Four Mile Creek Hotel, Strathpine

Set List

01. When The River Runs Dry

02. Lorelei

03. Waratah Street

04. Sad Songs

05. True Tears Of Joy

06. Long Way Down

07. In The Kitchen Of A Perfect Home

08. Holy Grail

09. 43 In The Shade

10. Ready To Go

11. Throw Your Arms Around Me

12. Shoulder To Cry On

13. Ghost Of Vainglory

14. Paradise Downunder

15. Home Again

16. On My Way Home

[encore break]

17. Eye Of The Needle

18. Last Ditch Cabaret

19. Ballad Of The One Eyed Man

20. Richard Cory

21. Parting Glass
For some reason I had always thought Strathpine was an inner city suburb somewhere on the north side of Brisbane. It is actually an outer suburb, so far away from where I live that the Gold Coast is closer. Mark mentioned early on “so where am I? Gympie?”, which was a bit of an exaggeration, but we may have been one fifth of the way there.

This was the only gig that I managed to be accompanied by my wife. Leanne would prefer more solo Mark material to the Hunters and Collectors material, which it interesting. Personally, I am happy with whatever is played, though a rebellious streak longs for Mark to leave “Throw Your Arms Around Me” off the set list. After the gig, I introduced Leanne to Mark, though we talked more to Rob.

The Four Mile Creek hotel was a great improvement on the previous night in terms of venue. The stage was in a corner that blocked crowd noise off fairly effectively. Mark mentioned about last night at one point and having a go at the audience. I yelled out “they deserved it” to which Mark commented something like “nah, they didn’t deserve it, they were a good crowd… except for this one guy”.

Mark has an interesting habit of always introducing songs differently, which I enjoy. Tonight, he introduced “Holy Grail” by noting that it was like a flower that kept on growing back, no matter how many times you cut it off. The old Hunters material got very strong responses, with people coming forth to dance to “Grail” and “Throw Your Arms Around Me”.

An impressive collection of VB formed in front of Mark during the gig. Mark could not drink it, unfortunately, because he was designated driver to take young Rob home that night. Mark also got messages for announcing people’s birthdays, like “Sarah”, who hit 18. Mark announced someone’s birthday twice because, he claimed, a big man reckoned he had not already done it and he was not going to push it. “Throw Your Arms Around Me” was dedicated to an assortment of people in the crowd.

Mark’s voice was not in the form it was on Thursday night, but as always he still put his all into the performance. The usual well known songs got their play, while the acoustic version of “True Tears Of Joy”, not played the previous night, was a treat. The Hunters and Collectors songs that Mark has now added live, “When The River Runs Dry”, “True Tears Of Joy”, “What’s A Few Men?” and “Back In The Hole” are more convincing played solo acoustic than might be expected.

While like on Thursday, people sat at the front of the stage, the crowd was good. Every so often people were calling out songs from Mark’s solo career, like “Richard Cory”, which is always a good sign that fans are in the house.

As with all of the Brisbane gigs, Mark was accessible afterwards for signing and general chat. Unfortunately the new recording deal must mean Mark can not sell his albums at gigs, which is a great disappointment. Having seen how impressively Mark got sales at the Sydney gigs in 2002 when he was able to sell his own albums, I believe they could have shifted a lot of copies (particularly of “Embedded”).

A big fan at the front of the crowd stuck out like a sore thumb, with his clear knowledge of all of Mark’s repertoire. After he pinched the set list, I found out that he was Michael, a regular poster on Mark’s guestbook. Speaking of the website, Mark is planning to write about the Four Mile Creek hotel for the “Seymour Rants” section on the website.

 

Sunday 30 May 2004

Gilhooley’s Surfers, Surfers Paradise.

Set List

01. When The River Runs Dry

02. Lorelei

03. Waratah Street

04. Sad Songs

05. True Tears Of Joy

06. Long Way Down

07. In The Kitchen Of A Perfect Home

08. Holy Grail

09. 43 In The Shade

10. Ready To Go

11. Throw Your Arms Around Me

12. Shoulder To Cry On

13. Home Again

14. Ghost Of Vainglory

15. Paradise Downunder

16. The Patriot Game

17. On My Way Home

[encore break]

18. Ballad Of The One Eyed Man

19. Last Ditch Cabaret

20. Parting Glass

[encore break]

21. Richard Cory
The final Mark gig for the Brisbane area had by far the best crowd. After the three previous nights of thrashing, Mark’s voice was not at it’s best, but he still put everything into giving a top quality performance for the punters. Mark was rewarded by an enthusiastic and grateful crowd, most likely the best of the Brisbane crowds. John O’Brien and I met up at the Hyperdome (mid way between Brisbane and the Gold Coast) and took one car to the fun.

I have been lucky enough to have been put ‘on the door’ for my efforts to the cause over the years. Today, however, they would not let me into the venue because they did not have a band list. There was little option but to call Mark’s mobile. Mark did not answer, but then within ten seconds called back. There is something impressive about being called by Mark on your mobile, which, of course, plays “Holy Grail” when it rings. Mark came down in person and let your humbled webmaster into the venue.

Downtown Gillhooley’s was very close to where Mark last played down the Gold Coast, at the Hard Rock Cafe. The venue was bigger, with ample seating area surrounding a main dance floor area. The sheer size of the venue meant that people were far from packed, and needed to be coaxed onto the dance floor. John and I decided to try to gradually coax people onto to dance floor, which involves finding a delicate balance between encouraging people and scaring them off by being ‘two goofy looking tall guys’ at the front. As opposed to the previous two nights, the crowd closest to Mark were all standing.

Before “Throw Your Arms Around Me”, we had edged the crowd forward by about two meters. With the advent of the said classic, the floor was suddenly packed. A group of footballer or surfer types made their way to the front. This beer soaked group of large males put their arms around each other and joined in with all their hearts, prompting Mark to say, 20 seconds into the song “gees you guys are pretty”. Unfortunately, these big guys were a bit annoying after “Arms”, talking, turning their backs and acting silly to impress their mates. They behaved themselves after being told off by a fan and a security guard.

Explaining “In The Kitchen Of A Perfect Home”, Mark reflected on the young man with his Jack Daniels before correcting himself with “Bundaberg Rum”. The promotion of the night for Gilhooley’s was Bundaberg Rum, which save for the fact we got to talk to two beautiful brunette promotion girls, went mostly unnoticed to a bogan beer connoisseur such as myself.

Mark’s alcohol supply was more timid tonight, and mainly of bottled Crown Lager. Questioning this later, as any self respecting VB drinker should, Mark commented that he did not like it and the only reason he had it was because the VB was only on tap.

When introducing Embedded, Mark reflected that it was probably not stocked at the HMV that was directly next door. That given, there were a number of people in the crowd who clearly knew of Mark’s third solo album. Someone I did not know called out “Try Not To Try” at some stage.

Mark’s brilliant rendition of “The Patriot Game” did not get the rousing response of Thursday night but definitely got the attention of the fans. I fielded a question on who did the original version of the song. “Lorelei”, “Parting Glass”, “Last Ditch Cabaret” and “The Ballad Of The One Eyed Man” were clear fan favourites. The sing-alongs to “Holy Grail” and “Throw Your Arms Around Me” almost drowned out Mark’s singing.

Although it is the way it should be, it is still great to be in a crowd and be able to sing Mark’s songs and know that you are not the only one. There were many people singing along to all of Mark’s songs. For the lesser known tracks off “Embedded” it would have only been around ten people, but it was still quite noticeable. The crowd roar during songs like “Ghost Of Vain Glory” was the best for any solo Mark song that I have heard in concert. There were some big fans in the crowd and they stuck out like sore thumbs. John and I had the pleasure of meeting a few of them, which was great. One fellow fan who saw us towards the front came up and noted how we were all obviously big fans, that it was great to see, shook our hands and ran.

The loyalty of the crowd was shown by refusing to accept that “Parting Glass” was the last song. The loudest crowd noise I have ever heard at a Mark gig erupted with “seeee-mooooorre” chants, clapping, whistling and anything else to get Mark back on stage. At my 8th Mark gig, I finally saw Mark convinced to come back to the stage for an encore after playing “Parting Glass”. It was impressive work by the loyal Gold Coast crowd.

The most unexpected fan to meet was a guy called James, who I had last seen in Sydney. Conveniently, his holidays had been timed in Brisbane at the time when Mark concerts were on. Mark and Rob, having seen James in an great variety of places, were clearly impressed. After the gig Mark and Rob searched out James and we were there talking for a while about a variety of things. Supposedly, one of the people making a noise at the Thursday night gig was Democrats Senator Cherry, which is great given Mark’s anti-war rant that night.

Driving home on the last leg, John O’Brien saw a familiar hired Falcon wagon catching up on him fast on the M1 motorway (Pacific Highway). Sure enough, it was Mark and Rob heading back to the hotel at perhaps questionable speed. Naturally, John sped up, waves were exchanged and John calls my mobile to report the musings.

It was a great weekend, yet over so fast. Until next time, cheers!

 

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