Mark Seymour Live: 13-15 June 2002
A Queenslander travels to New South Wales to catch Mark Seymour and company at three gigs during June 2002. Detailed.
Author: Stuart Fenech
Date: 19 June 2002.
It really is a long way down, to Sydney. Due to the convenient and well placed convincing by a certain Miriam Norman, I found myself travelling around one thousand kilometres from Brisbane with the main intention of attending two Mark Seymour gigs. Due to making good time on the way down, we ended up attending the full three Sydney area gigs and all of the trouble of the travel and organisation was instantly forgotten as soon as Mark and Rod opened with “Don’t You Know Me?” on the first night.
The three Sydney gigs attended were all acoustic performances with the (now very short haired) Mark Seymour and (not so short haired) Rod Davies. These were as follows:
Triselies Restaurant and Nightclub, Katoomba.
Thursday June 13, 2002.
Katoomba is about an hour’s drive west of Sydney (assuming no traffic!) and is situated in the Blue Mountains. I have never felt cold like I did at Katoomba, a genuine learning experience. There was a very small crowd of around 30 due to the higher than usual ticket price ($45) and the fact that it was just inhumanely cold. The venue was a Greek restaurant adorned with a lot of artwork and featuring an unmistakable attention to detail (including candle lit tables).
A generally smoke free event, this was a rather intimate, unique and unusual setting for a Mark Seymour gig. Mark’s voice was in incredible form, though he struggled slightly on the next two nights. There seemed to be some trouble tuning the guitars during the performance, and a string was broken at one point (as with Manly but there was a spare guitar both times anyway).
The Old Manly Boatshed Nightclub, Manly.
Friday June 14, 2002.
After a long, drawn out search for a car park in the northern suburb of Manly, it was mentally noted that trying to find a car park in Sydney is not for the faint hearted. The Manly venue and crowd were rather average and there were technical difficulties. The gig itself went pretty well overall though, being packed out with a generally happy audience. The Boatshed is a typical pub venue, with a low ceiling and a standing area in front of the stage.
The support for this gig was Kevin Bennett. Simply playing an acoustic guitar, he went through a series of (mostly) heartfelt songs including “It Felt Like Mine”, “Grandma’s Hand” (Bill Withers), “I Don’t Feel Right In This World No More”, “You Might Be There”, “River Run Deep” and “Bound To Fall”. Kevin has an album called “Two” out, featuring his bar heater on the front.
Mark Seymour pulled a joke on Robert Miles (who does live sound for him) mid way during this performance. Out of nowhere, Mark started talking about the next song being inspired by a man he had never met, who changed history in Victoria six months ago. Having no idea about what this possibly was, I was suckered. He then declared it was just to confuse his old friend Rob, who he had in turn confused with someone else for twenty years (whatever that was about!).
The creativity award must be given to this audience though, a lot of whom joined in a very silly “Seymour” song of sorts to get him back for an encore. It was something akin to yelling out “Seymour” in the time and note of the Australian national anthem. Hello to Cosmar (a fan from the Netherlands) and Nathan from this audience.
The Bridge Hotel, Rozelle.
Saturday June 15, 2002.
This gig was a step up on the previous as the crowd was friendlier and the venue seemingly better suited. This performance went off without a hitch and everyone was fairly pleased. Despite very little advertising, the place was packed out with approximately 300 people. The Bridge Hotel is another typical pub venue with barely any seating and a largish area for people to stand. We made it to the venue incredibly early to find a sound check going on. For the record, Mark and Rod were playing “Don’t You Know Me?” and “Try Not To Try” during the sound check.
The support act for the night was Charlton Hill, a firm supporter of the hair gel industry. Along with a friend Tim on guitar, the two powered through an acoustic set of the songs “Deep”, “Sound Of Goodbye”, “The Last Thing”, “Blood Red Wine”, “Turn To You”, “Pain”, “Crash Landed”, “If I Could” (not the 1927 song), “2’s Company”, “Don’t Sail” and “Faithfully”. Unfortunately it was difficult to ascertain exactly what a lot of the songs were about (his voice was difficult to understand), though they seemed pretty good. See the images section below for a scan of the Charlton Hill promotional advertisement that was scattered on tables at the venue.
Mark ran out of his one beer fairly early into the performance, which he mentioned to the crowd. One of the more understanding elements of the crowd yelled out to ‘sip it slowly’ which went down well. Some nice person got Mark another beer which he appreciated. As seen before and will undoubtedly be seen again, the beer of choice was the great VB (Victoria Bitter). The crowd were quite friendly here at Rozelle and we spent a while talking to a fair few people including Robyn, Angus, and the recently engaged James and Jen. There was a lot of amusing crowd interaction during this performance about football codes, a bad joke Mark and Rod had which they would not share, songs to make you “really upset”, etc.
As with the previous nights, Mark and friends were selling his albums after the performance since he is now free to sell his music any way he wants (no recording contract). Mark made sure to mention the selling of albums afterwards during every performance, a total of three times during his Manly gig. The Rozelle audience was a little amused by the sales tactic and one person called out to throw in a steak knife. The albums sold out within a few minutes after this last performance, surely a good sign. Watching the sales, it was surprising to see the number of people who still did not have “King Without A Clue” or “One Eyed Man”.
The set list played at the three gigs is below.
01. Don’t You Know Me?
03. The Ghost of Vain Glory
04. Try Not To Try
05. Waratah Street
06. Long Way Down
07. Made Man
08. Holy Grail
09. Home Again
10. See You Around
11. Sad Songs
12. Paradise Down Under
13. Last Ditch Cabaret
14. Ballad Of The One Eyed Man
15. On My Way Home
16. The Eye of the Needle
17. Throw Your Arms Around Me
18. Richard Cory
19. Parting Glass
The played list being identical each night was a slight disappointment. At Katoomba the encore started at “Eye Of The Needle”. At Manly the encore began at “On My Way Home”. At Rozelle there were two encores, one starting at “Eye Of The Needle” and the other at “Richard Cory”.
Below are some notes on particular songs over the three nights:
Still not on any official release, The Pogues “Lorelei” still proves quite popular in the live set.
Try Not To Try
This was the debut for “Try Not To Try”, a brand new song mainly written by Cameron McKenzie (from Mark’s “The Human Tide” band). Mark mentioned that Cameron wrote this about a girl that he is yet to have. At the Rozelle gig, Mark rearranged this song slightly to the confusion of Rod.
And I will try not to try too hard
Make sure to be home late once in a while
Have faith in me
How could I forget you when I’m gone?
At the previous Sydney gig (in December), “Made Man” was proposed as being a song questioning whether his made man of choice, Rupert Murdoch, had a heart. Having not heard this song before, I was impressed by this masterpiece. In acoustic form, Rod and Mark harmonise well and the result is a song that is not only scathing and cynical but also an intense, melodic, catchy song. This song to me demonstrates the best of artistic expression – constructively displaying an emotion without any need to be blatant or use random swearing to be ‘cool’.
Mark explains that “Made Man” is about Rupert Murdoch. Despite Mark being an employee of his for a very long time (Murdoch owns Festival Mushroom Records, the record company he recently departed) Rupert never came up to him and told him he loved his work. In some ways Mark seems to be glad to have departed Festival Mushroom as he no longer has people looking over his shoulder. At Katoomba, a man called Lorrie yelled out something about “only need to please the missus” in response to this. A feeling came across that Mark seemed a bit cynical of having bean counters run the company rather than people involved in music.
He wears that badge of honour
Everything fell by into place
He’s got the numbers to prove it
And the girl on his arm has perfect taste”
An interesting sidenote to this song came from Sydney’s great free music magazine “Drum Media” (11 June 2002). After the number of Australian artists on the Festival Mushroom Records (FMR) roster was cut from around 120 to around 16 in recent years (Long Way To The Bottom, David Higgins), FMR chairman Roger Grierson had this to say about a recent marketing and distribution deal: “Having Alberts joined up with FMR is a dream come true for us all, including James Murdoch. This deal underlines our position as the premier company dedicated to local music”.
What can be said about the Hunna’s classic “Holy Grail” that has not been said before? As per the norm, “Holy Grail” proved extremely popular and led to everyone singing along at the Manly and Rozelle gigs. Mark introduced this song at Rozelle as being a “traditional Australian folk song”.
Normally mentioned as being about Melbourne, Mark told the Rozelle crowd that “Home Again” was inspired by the theme from Play School.
See You Around
The set lists call “See You Around” ‘Carey’. Is this because it is the Mark Seymour song the closest in any way, shape or form to a Mariah Carey song? Caelie has told me to bite my tongue for such a gesture, but I am going to run with this dodgy (and not serious) explanation until I have a better one.
Paradise Down Under
Mark introduced this song at all gigs as being a song about a backpacker he initially wrote for World Vision. For whatever reason, the song was subsequently rejected by World Vision. This knowledge puts a whole new perspective on the song that many will be familiar with from the Basement album and video. The acoustic version of this song was only recently debuted (at Cairns) and came across well.
On My Way Home
Mark mentioned a couple of times that he wrote this song with Mark Lizotte (Diesel). During the Manly gig, the sound equipment failed mid way through this song, leaving Mark’s singing clearly audible but nothing else. Eventually Mark stopped singing and Miriam informs that the sound gear came back to life via a good kick. Mark and Rod starting going again from the point in the song at which they were cut off.
The old Simon and Garfunkel track “Richard Cory” always seems to go down well live. After recently finding the original of this song, I found a new appreciation for what exactly Mark has done to this song. The original was rather uninspired – great lyrically but generally lacking life.
At Katoomba, Mark dedicated this song to Eddie McGuire (host of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire”). I will leave that one open to the imagination. At Manly, a photographer down the front by the name of Nathan kept on pleading for Mark to play “Richard Cory”. Eventually Mark responded to him (one song before the wanted one) telling that he was going to play a song called “Richard Cory”, but not now! Then before playing the song, he dedicated it to the persistent man at the front and mentioned that he hoped not to stuff it up. The photographer, Nathan, had a photo of Mark and his brother Nick (former Crowded House) together. The A4 size black and white photo had young Nick looking particularly terrifying.
By popular demand Mark continues to play “Parting Glass”, popularised by the Clancy Brothers. Although inevitably mentioned before, “Parting Glass” was introduced to Mark by his mother Paula, who he mentioned at Manly was now 80 and still in good health, which got a cheer from the audience. The final “Goodnight, and joy be with you all…” is always haunting.
Notes From Meeting The Guys
At some time during all of the performances, I was lucky enough to have some contact with Mark Seymour, Robert Miles (who was doing sound), Rod Davies and a couple of their friends (including Janette, who helped sell albums). If I were them, I think I would be a little bit concerned about these kind of obsessive fans! At the last night I (along with Miriam) even found myself in the band room being provided with Sambuca by Rob, a most unusual situation for me personally. This section contains a few bits and pieces that may be of interest to fans:
I was dared to tell Mark that he had to tour Brisbane and give me free tickets by Leanne, my wife. Feeling silly, this was one of the first things I said to Mark upon meeting him. I was only joking, but to my surprise, Mark thought that was alright and mentioned that they were hoping to make it up to Queensland some time around September.
Despite there having been a ridiculous number of Hunters and Collectors t-shirts (Rob was behind approximately 140 separate shirt designs) there are not any Mark Seymour shirts available at this moment in time. I suggested making a few shirts, and a couple of people there were keen on the idea so they could then be sold alongside the albums. So maybe there will be shirts some time in the future!
Mark Seymour has been doing some studio recording over the last six months. Four songs exist in a rough mix – “Paradise Down Under”, “Made Man”, “Try Not To Try” and “Show Me Love”. The Human Tide, Mark’s band, are also playing “What’s A Few Men?” occasionally now.
Rod Davies does not talk much (if at all) during Mark Seymour gigs. I have seen him stand there with the most interesting facial expressions for entire songs because Mark has changed the arrangement or key. So I asked Rod why he was so quiet during the gigs, and it turns out he does this because he feels that it is Mark’s gig after all and the people are mainly there to see him. So for those who like Rod too, you will have to continue reading those expressions. Rod Davies has his own website at http://www.roddavies.com .
Lastly, for a bit of stirring, here are some comments on Sydney from the naive perspective of a person who has lived in the Brisbane, Queensland area for his entire life of 21 years:
- If people in Sydney love their fellow man, they sure as hell do not show it on the road. As soon as someone leaves a ‘safe’ distance to the car in front, someone else cuts in or pulls out from nowhere leaving the initial vehicle having to brake very suddenly to avoid an accident. The natural long term consequence of this is that Sydney drivers tailgate each other so that other road users can not merge in or anything without resorting to dangerous techniques. People both accelerate and brake very quickly in Sydney. The technique of throwing your car into any available space prevails over use of indicators or any sort of friendliness. Now Brisbane drivers are not that great and you do get tailgating and general stupidity, but in Sydney it is the norm.
- New South Wales drivers get told where their speed camera’s are. Two big signs tell road users that a speed trap is ahead well before the actual camera’s. Two things here are worth noting: That the New South Wales government cares a bit about their people whereas the Queensland government are just money hungry mongrels, and anyone who gets a speeding fine from a camera in New South Wales is, well, a bit silly.
- The rich appear richer and the poor appear poorer in Sydney. A lot more homeless people, a lot more incredibly rich people.
- The class distinction evident between different suburbs is fairly interesting. In the Brisbane area, the ‘good’ and the ‘not so good’ suburbs tend to be intermingled a lot, while in Sydney they seem to form snobby colonies. Fascinating.
- The water in Sydney tastes less like chlorine than in Brisbane. This may just be psychological.
- Tooheys (NSW) is better than XXXX (Queensland) but VB (Victoria) is better than them both.
- The Sydney area is far seedier than the Brisbane area. It would appear that there is a LOT of money involved in the Sydney sex industry…
There is no way I could have done this whole Sydney thing by myself. There are a few people I would like to thank (though I already have thanked these people many times, I think!):
- Miriam N. For convincing me to go in the first place, transporting me around, showing me a bit of Sydney, taking most of the photo’s and encouraging me to stop hiding.
- Leanne F. Although she could not go herself, my wife encouraged me to do the whole Sydney trip.
- Janet C. This may seem obscure, but my Honours supervisor encouraged me to have a few days off and try something a bit different.
- Tim O. The guy who I ended up staying with for for most of my time in Sydney. We had not even met and I found myself living with this man for a few days. Tim was great.
- Rob M. Rob put our names on the door for the Manly and Rozelle, has been friendly to my cause for a long time and, of course, provided alcohol at Rozelle :-).
- Mark S. For someone who has a bit of a reputation for scaring journalists, Mark handled us fans very well. Being a fan of music but not necessarily the people who make it, I am happy to go my merry way and never actually meet my favourite artists. I am extremely glad that I pushed this mindset aside and took a chance – it was interesting and not at all disappointing to meet and talk to Mark (as well as Rob and Rod).
- Miriam would like to add a couple of additional thankyou’s:
- The Atlantics: especially Peter and my new friend Martin. Without them I would never had gone to Queensland, had a fabulous holiday and given Stu a lift back to Sydney.
- Tim O. Deserves another mention. A great mate.
Goodnight and joy be with you all…
Stuart Fenech – June 2002