IT is extremely rare for a performance to receive a standing ovation before it has ended or indeed actually begun. But as the Seekers strolled on stage at a packed Philharmonic Hall the audience, which seemed charged by an almost intoxicating anticipation, rose to its feet unbidden, and almost as one; cheering and clapping a deeply felt warm to scorching welcome to the four Australians who, it must be said, looked a tad startled but nevertheless overjoyed.
It is indicative of the narcissistic era we live in where folk either imagine that such compulsive conduct is cool or they couldn't care less about others
The Seekers were global megastars in the 60s and have clearly never lost their allure from the time that hits such as Georgy Girl (the title song from the film), A World of Our Own, The Carnival is Over and Morning Town Ride – apparently a kids’ favourite to this day but no toddlers or, one would wager, few people below 40, will know its provenance – had the world in their thrall.
And at this remarkable concert, part of their Golden Jubilee celebrations, there was barely a handful of people hovering anywhere near under 55...or 65, come to think of it. And it’s worth noting that the band is arguably the only 50-year-old outfit still playing that can boast the original members.
Today they are all naturally advancing in years, well into the bus-pass age, and the chaps silver-haired, but are all distinctly familiar: the elfin like vocalist Judith Durham who looks physically, and uncannily, little changed, singer-guitarists Bruce Woodley and Keith Potger and bass player Athol Guy.
After their heydays they did, in fact, go their own ways for many years after the late 1960s, and they’ve had their personal ups and downs, particularly quite recently for the joyously melodic singer Judith Durham who suffered a brain haemorrhage early in 2013. She told us that she never imagined ever standing on a stage again but "the kindness of you all helped me back". It was almost a tear-jerking moment and certainly won rapturous applause from her devotees.
They reformed for their silver anniversary in 1992 and have done other shows and recordings together since, and now this latest excursion into the memory banks.
A classy and rather inventive touch of the current act is the use of a film backdrop to show the Seekers in their early period of roller-coaster success where they mingled with the young and raffish glitterati of the music world including the Rolling Stones and the Beatles.
Indeed they once opened for the Fab Four and John Lennon quipped: “They’re not a bad little band…but really the people out there have come to see us.” He then apparently cackled, as Athol Guy, sporting the look of an avuncular, white-bearded professor, happily related, grinning widely himself.
In fact the backdrop of old filmed segments of the combo, that met in Melbourne in the swinging 60s, was used rather cleverly to link in with their present day rendering of songs that are still fondly remembered - and gustily sung along with – and it has to be observed that Judith Durham’s voice has astonishingly lost none of its youthful soaring, haunting quality or range. She didn't falter a note.
It was a slick, tight presentation – as you might expect from such veterans – and a lively and gratifying musical jaunt that took them and their fans on what was – and is - an enjoyable nostalgia fest…almost a… Sun Down Town Ride.
The only negative about the evening was the obsessive flashing of mobile phone cameras by numerous people throughout the auditorium who seemed oblivious to the fact that this might be hugely irritating to both performers and the rest of the audience there to enjoy the show. Indeed such was the frequency that Athol Guy was persuaded to request that people refrained from taking pictures quite early in the first act.
One individual, evidently enraptured by the Seekers, would furiously applaud and wave his arms about after each song, his behaviour verging on the euphoric and veering dangerously towards the religiously ecstatic. Yet throughout the actual performances he was busy holding up his accursed mobile phone camera and relentlessly clcicking away, disturbing all and sundry around him.
Many others, similarly compelled, repeated this nonsense throughout the hall. It is a peculiar phenomenon – to me at least - and indicative of the narcissistic era we live in where folk either imagine that such compulsive conduct is cool or they couldn't care less about others. And technically the flash on a mobile phone camera is probably about as much use as the flare of a match in such a large theatre.
Fortunately, after six public announcements during the interval about such goings on – to wit, that the "taking of photographs and recordings wasn’t permitted, for the comfort of both audience and performers" - the second act was (mostly) free of such twittish behaviour.
And the Seekers did get another – and fully deserved – standing ovation at the end. 8/10
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