How often does Shepparton spring into your mind? Be honest. Not often I’ll bet. Well, I have had discussion recently with someone from Shepparton and it jogged a few memories.
As some of you know, I used to be a roadie. A few of my pals have been hassling me recently to publicly tell some of my “war stories”. I have resisted for a while but, enough time has passed now to make them interesting without getting people in the shit.I have spent many an interesting New Years Eve, but among them is not the one spent in Shepparton.
From (unreliable) memory, it was 1992. I was working for a chap by the name of Rick Price who was doing good business at the time. We were booked to play New Years Eve at this pub in Shepparton along with The Black Sorrows and Daryl Braithwaite as well as one or two others(Dave Mason-Cox I think). At the time it was a very impressive line up and it promised to be a great night. The bloke who owned the pub had spent a motza on this night. He was planning to clean up on account of the fact that basically nothing else was going on for a hundred miles around. He had put a cyclone wire fence around the car park and had blacked it out with plastic. He had put a quite decent stage in, along with reasonable backstage facilities for us and the other bands. The topper was that he had knocked a big hole in the (brick) wall of the pub to allow him to sell grog at a phenomenal rate to the vast crowd. The guy had pallets of grog everywhere!
For the “PA Heads”… We had an ARX PA system of around 18,000 watts front of house and about 13,000 watts of monitors on 8 sends. The Black Sorrows had an almost identical system so we set them both up to form quite a decent system. It took all afternoon to set up and make the two systems work together. We had a crew of 6 and they had similar. They also had this poor schmuck who had “won” a competition on the tele to be Joe Camelleris personal roadie. He had been on the road with this particular tour for about two weeks. In the scheme of things, he was basically useless. The Sorrows crew made no bones at all about letting him know this. They wouldn’t let him touch anything. He was the epitome of “the lunch boy”. The poor prick was miserable but he was hundreds of miles from home and broke! Apart from this, their crew was blueing pretty good amongst themselves, so the atmosphere was touchy at best. Our crew were getting on well and took the opportunity to stoke the fires a bit.
The publican was expecting a crowd of many thousands, literally, and had invested heavily. Guess what? They didn’t turn up! We had this massive setup, these great bands, the “hole in the wall bar”, the pallets of grog, the bar staff, the big stage, the security dudes, the backstage compound with catering, generators, cyclone fencing, but… no crowd. The artists, all of them, kicked arse. If you have never seen Joe Camelleri and The Black Sorrows live, then you have truly missed out. It is a musicians band. The musicians will know what I mean. Our band kicked too. Rick Price had a red hot band and they delivered. But no one was there. Daryl Braithwaite started the show with just himself and a keyboard player and managed to be thoroughly entertaining for about 45 minutes. Quite a feat for two dudes, but, no one was there.
At the end of the night you could have cut the atmosphere with a knife. The smell of burning promoter hung heavily in the air! We packed up our gear in record time and then attempted to leave. The Sorrows crew decided to get shitty at this point. “What right did we have to piss off early when the job wasn’t finished?”
Well, we were finished!
We figured that we had about half the gear each. We had packed up ours therefore fulfilling our part of the bargain. However these dudes were fighting each other and were working like old moles. In the spirit of reconciliation, and with much hesitance, we decided to help these poor buggers who had just about had enough, and wanted to go home.
We eventually got their truck packed and headed off to the Motel for a well earned kip. Only, my brother and I got side tracked into another Motel room with a local band! I’d like to tell you the full juicy details but… nothing happened. These dudes were the most boring people you could meet. No sex, no drugs, no rock & roll. Not even a couple of long necks.
It was one of the best concerts I have ever seen, and no one was there!
That is my complete experience of Shepparton.