The GC was once again filled mostly with senior citizens last night who were seeking to have another sip from the rock and roll fountain of eternal youth, out for the evening to spend a couple of hours basking in the memories of their teenage years, back when Adelaide’s hard rocking band, The Masters Apprentices, ruled the airwaves and pop charts of sixties Australia.

Original and early sixties’ members, Mick Bower, Brian Vaughton, Rick Harrison, and, for a few numbers at least, Gavin ‘Spider’ Webb, were joined by musicians from Rob Pippan’s stable of local sessioneers, to take us all back in time to Rundle Street’s Beat Basement, where The Mustangs, as the band were initially called, once belted out rhythm and blues, and straight blues, classics like Wild Wild PartyToo Much Monkey Business, Baby Please Don’t Go and the classic Them hit, Gloria. Tonight’s audience got to hear all of these standards as well as a generous cross-section of the band’s glorious songbook.

Sadly, Gavin Webb could only play a few numbers as he was recovering from illness and his energy reserve was still fairly low. Mick Bower’s guitar prowess was also clearly not what it once was, and Brian Vaughton on drums was keen but not always ‘on the one’ – especially in the superfluous drum solo that started the encore late in the set.

Nevertheless, the respect these local legends generated from the crowd was genuine and the extra musicians covered up the musical flaws and played the Masters’ greatest hits with passion and volume.

Vocalists Craig Holden and Ian ‘Polly’ Politis did a fantastic job, and Nanette Van Ruiten fleshed out the vocals to good effect too.

However, giving the lead vocal on Because I Love You to Van Ruiten was a poor choice, completely changing the impact of the song. Whereas Jim Keays’ original vocal, in which he led the band in singing ‘Do what you want to do, be what you want to be, yeah…‘ was an anthemic invitation to empowerment and liberation for women, reversing the gender of the lead vocal makes the song retrogressive and the lyric becomes one of resignation and submission.

It is easy to forget that the Masters Apprentices’ songs were of such consistently high quality because you don’t get to hear them that often on music media these days, so tonight’s lively renditions of Undecided, Buried & Dead, Elevator Driver, 5:10 Man, Living In A Child’s Dream, Think About Tomorrow Today and, of course, Turn Up Your Radio were a real pleasure to hear in a live environment once again.

Some more recent Mick Bower compositions, whilst perfectly competent.were placed in the second half of the set when what the crowd really wanted to hear was more of the classics, so these newer numbers only slowed the momentum of the show down as it neared its conclusion.

MC, John Pemberton, was also an annoying element in the show, popping on stage at regular intervals to make unnecessary introductions, offer up needless historical trivia and, at times, berate the crowd for not cheering loudly enough.

All up, there was a lot to like in this show – the songs are always great to hear, and the ring-in musicians were of top quality, but there were more than a few low points too.


Rating: 3 stars


1965 Masters Apprentices – Hands Of Time, was performed at The Grand Central at the Dom Polski Centre, on Thursday 14 March, 2019.