It is easy to forget how big Sydney band Hush had become by the mid seventies. By then, for over five years, the band had ruled the country’s AM radio waves and had seemingly hogged the ABC’s Countdown stage each week.
It is also too easy to dismiss their role in Australian rock history as unimportant, when in fact, they had played a huge part in encouraging the acceptance of multiculturalism as well as in helping the breaking down of damaging and inaccurate racial stereotyping in this country.
And because their biggest hits tended to be cover versions, people also tend to forget that they were actually very successful songwriters themselves, penning a good number of their own catchy chart hits.
For this year’s Fringe, original Hush members, Les Gock and Rick Lum, teamed up with Choirboys’ singer and songwriter, Mark Gable to present a selection of Hush’s greatest hits, as well as a prime selection of classic pub rock staples from other Australian acts – with a few covers of hits by overseas artists thrown in to the mix as well.
Their show was titled Get Rocked! – and the band certainly ensured that the predominantly over 60s audience got exactly what the show’s title promised!
The star trio were ably supported on stage by two of Sydney’s finest session musicians: Peter Northcote (who some claim to be the most recorded guitarist in Australian music history), on second guitar; and Fabrizio Omedei on drums, a man who has played, over the years, with artists of the calibre of Percy Sledge, The Angels and…Rick Astley.
Collectively this combo have come together to make some high volume, hard rocking noise that showed that none of these musicians have lost any of their original edge – and, in fact, that they may be playing better than they ever did in their heyday!
Opening the show with, in quick succession, Hush’s call and response crowd pleaser, Get Rocked!, and their stomping hit cover version of the Dave Clark Five’s Glad All Over, made it clear from the outset that this was not going to be some lukewarm half-baked dawdle through limp MOR radio rock fodder. This band ensured they had everything turned up to eleven and quickly let us know that they weren’t here to take prisoners.
Gock, now well into his sixties, can still cut a mean guitar god pose and hammer out an impressive array of riffs and solos; and Gable still has that ability to scream and roar with full conviction -although his odd, dysrhythmic stage movements were hard to get used to.
Between songs, Gock – and occasionally Gable – regaled us with some background history to the songs chosen for the show.
For instance, who knew The Angels makeover from zany jug band washboard scrapers to Albert Productions riff-meisters was brought about by a revelation they had whilst supporting Hush on tour and hearing and seeing the Sydney band tear it up at the height of their success?
And, again, who knew that a young Michael Jackson had once ventured into Hush’s dressing room to compliment them on the quality of one of their songs, Get The Feeling, before he went on stage with The Jackson Five in the early seventies?
Or even that the first song James Freud ever sang to a live audience, turned out to be a cover of Hush’s second single, Walking?
The audience lapped up this generous feast of Hush trivia served up to them.
We also received, throughout the night’s proceedings, some blistering cover versions such as The Easybeats’ Friday On My Mind, Status Quo’s Rocking All Over The World, two AC/DC covers – an unexpected If You Want Blood, and a more predictable, Highway To Hell.
For me the highlights were the band’s full force run through of Rose Tattoo’s Bad Boy For Love, and their terrific version of Stevie Wright’s Evie (Part 1) which returned quite a few of the ladies in the audience back into that state of mind where they could, once again, channel their long-lost Arkaba-rian rock chick spirit, get out of their seats, and shake it like the wild things they once were!
Gock’s most detailed reminiscence in the show was a tale about their support slot on Alice Cooper’s Welcome To My Nightmare tour, with the guitarist saying it was still one of the greatest shows he had ever witnessed. His detailed description of Cooper’s stage illusions brought back memories of that tour for many in the crowd, when, at Football Park, Alice had stunned the locals with his innovative stage and trick effects. After this recount, Gock had the band scorch their way through a mean rendition of School’s Out just to accentuate the point.
Later, Gable, in a self-deprecatory moment, introduced his biggest recording triumph, Run To Paradise, as a ‘crap song that was necessary in the set to highlight how good all the other songs are.’
Of course, true to the principles of reverse psychology, the crowd showed how much they loved this Aussie rock anthem and gave it their most animated response of the evening.
The set finished with a return to Hush’s songs – the only ‘break of pace’ moment supplied by the relatively pedestrian, Nothing Stays The Same Forever, the band’s farewell song; and followed, of course, by their mega-hit arrangement of the fifties’ classic, Boney Maronie.
At the end of proceedings, the band came back on for a quick encore of some Accadacca and a brief reprise of the first verse and chorus of Glad All Over.
There weren’t many in the audience who, at the finish, were glad it was all over, and, as they filed out, you could tell people were more than pleased with how the band had encouraged us all to take a brief sojourn back into the world of Friday and Saturday pub and club nights, to those days when crunching Oz rock guitars had first ruled our worlds.
Rating: 4 stars
Get Rocked! was performed on February 21, at 8:30pm, in the Grand Central Ballroom (The GC) at the Dom Polski Centre on Angas Street in the city.