With Coffin Ed.
There have been a number of books written, and numerous articles, by music writers and fans alike as to the ‘defining’ gigs they have attended over the years. Some can claim to have witnessed the legendary performance of Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock back in 1969 whilst others recall the revolutionary sound of Charlie Christian at Mintons Playhouse in 1949. They are iconic moments in the history of music, indelibly inscribed in the minds of those who cherish the heritage of twentieth century music.
On the other hand there are those less significant musical events that we have all experienced that will never make it into the realm of the iconic, but are nevertheless memories we will never forget. Over the years I have experienced some weird and wonderful happenings at music gigs in Sydney, and I am happy to share just a few of them here. Whilst I am unsure of the chronology I can honestly vouch that they all took place and there are witnesses to back up my story.
Lucky Peterson – Live On Victoria Road:
Around three decades ago US bluesman Lucky Peterson, then a somewhat impetuous young man, played a series of shows in Sydney, including Balmain’s Bridge Hotel. At the time his act incorporated an Albert Collins style guitar walk in which he would leave the stage and parade amongst the audience courtesy of a 100 foot guitar lead. At the Bridge Hotel gig, he soon found himself on the pavement outside, egged on by an enthusiastic crowd, and then onto the median strip in the middle of Victoria Road. As he lay horizontal on the concrete, still playing his guitar, the speeding traffic ran right over his guitar lead. Fortunately he lived to complete the gig but sadly no photographic record remains.
Big Jay McNeely Invades An Oxford Street Sex Shop:
The remarkable Big Jay McNeely, who recently turned 90, was a regular visitor to Australia in the 80s and 90s, captivating audiences with his honking r’n’b style sax and eccentric showbiz antics. Like Lucky he also enjoyed a ‘stroll’ from the stage, this time using a radio mic and whilst the band kept playing he would often circulate through the entire venue. At a show at Oxford Street’s Klub Kakadu (the old Patches nightclub), he not only walked through the crowd but down the stairs and out onto the street – with the punters in hot pursuit. At one moment it looked like he would get onto a bus that had just pulled up but he soon disappeared into a neighbouring sex shop. His loud honking sax soon sounded a mass evacuation from the various private cubicles and an angry manager who chased him back out onto the street.
Nude Chesting At The Soho Bar: It was a bizarre ritual that often followed a performance by bands like Lubricated Goat at a weekly ‘grunge’ night at the Soho Bar in Potts Point’s Piccadilly Hotel. A couple of the band members would strip completely naked and in full view of the audience, usually somewhere right near the bar, engage in a kind of mock chest to chest combat. That was the slightly more liberal 1980s and one can only wonder what would happen if a similar exhibition happened today!
Bare Bums & Beer Cans: No More Bandicoots were an 80s Sydney band who delighted in building enormous sets for many of their performances. At a late night appearance at the ‘Love Box’ at Chippendale’s Graphic Arts Club, they had constructed an elaborate pirate ship, complete with a series of portholes. At the climax of their show, those portholes became an opening for their bare bottoms as the audience were encouraged to pelt them with empty beer cans. Needless to say the manager of the Club was not impressed but the punters loved it!