The ghost of the Continental
makes an already special gig even special-er
27.5.19 - With a good
two weeks since the first of Spectrum's 50th Anniversary shows at the
Thornbury Theatre (see review below) we probably should've
been looking at another rehearsal, particularly as we'd added a song
(Worm-turning Blues) to the set-list by way of compensation
for the loss of Glyn Mason in the line-up, but Bren (Mason) assured
me that the song was well-covered in his mind at least, so I left it
to the sound-check at the (new) Caravan Music Club to give the song
This is against a background of high expectations engendered by a voracious
uptake in ticket sales to the point of a FULL HOUSE being declared in
the preceding days. The uptake was such that I had to actually buy the
last three tickets available on-line to ensure that Lisa and Deb could
gain entry! I have to admit it's a nice problem to have for change though.
As soon as I walked through the door I dubbed the Caravan
showroom The Room of Eternal Night, with the only natural
light in the room seeping through the open door.
The good-sized room is surrounded with plush black curtains and the
comfortable and well-appointed stage has the ubiquitous black curtain
on the back wall as well as black carpet on the stage.
The feature on stage that I didn't notice at first is the even plusher
red curtain that can be strategically drawn across proceedings while
the bands change over to be theatrically re-opened to reveal the next
band launching into their first number, happily unfettered by the shame
of being observed crawling around the stage setting-up their equipment.
If this reminded me favourably of the long-lamented Continental Club.
I was further reminded of it (as well as the former Caravan Club in
Oakleigh of course) in the Green Room, where there was a handsome spread
of sandwiches, a very tasty hummus dip and fresh fruit - and liquid
The ungreen walls are covered in A3 posters of acts that have already
or were about to grace the Caravan - and Robbo's son Keaton took the
opportunity to creatively add his detailed drum-kit drawing to the grafitti
The sound-check was slotted for 1.00 and we did manage a run through
Worm-turning. (Technical alert) The latest configuration of
my pre-amp app actually sounded pretty good - for both guitars - and
so I was relatively relaxed while people started to arrive at the club
for the 3.00 start.
The other good thing about the show room is that it sounds
so good - Madder Lake sounded the best I've heard them so far - and
the addition of Pixie to the crew, the universally endorsed expert at
the sound-desk, obviously augered well for our part of the show.
And so it transpired. As I started the opening lick for Launching
Place Part ll the curtains opened and there we were, eye-balling
the best crowd we've seen since the two bands began this hare-brained
Double Bill enterprise.
We managed to include all but the very last encore, which I wasn't altogether
unhappy about as my D harp had lost a crucial note (which I discovered
when guesting in Badlands with the Madders).
I was sort-of relaxed, but I had been apprehensive though.
In fact, all week I'd been fretting over
a particular song that was back in the repertoire - Real Meanie.
I'll candidly admit that a lot of my songs verge on and even surpass
the 'crass' description and Real Meanie's one of those. The
recorded version features on Spectrum's Testimonial album (still
awaiting digital re-release) and Ariel's Rock & Roll Scars
and may've originally been inspired by Clockwork Orange in
the first place. Incidentally, I've never been that happy with the recordings,
but as a (crass) song it has some merit and it's fun to play live.
In any case, the real world can occasionally align with art and crass
songs in a bad way and the spate of young women being murdered in Melbourne,
culminating with the very recent Courtney Herron murder, added to my
My usual swaggering misogynist rave in the middle of the song seemed
particularly inappropriate and when we actually arrived at that point
in the song during our performance I still hadn't resolved a less jarring
I instinctively started out with the polar-opposite of swaggering, almost
as though I wanted the earth to swallow me up - and just when it felt
like it was all going to fall over, reintroduced the cocksure hooligan
to take the song out.
I actually got a bit excited that it had come to me on the spur of the
moment. That's the thing I've always liked about playing in Spectrum
- there's always space for a bit of inspired innovation and the indulgence
of the Spectrum audience has always played a very crucial role in this.
I'm also very fortunate to have a permanent band to take to the public
that is alert to any unannounced Ruddy innovations. Having said that
I really think that the show can stand improvement, but yesterday's
show was deeply satisfying on a number of levels.
See you at the Yarraville Club in July!
The Thornbury Theatre
resonates to the sounds of the Spectrum and the Mason Bros
13.5.19 - I was glad to find that although we
were playing upstairs at the Thornbury Theatre it wasn't quite as upstairs
as I'd feared and the load-in was within the capabilities of a man of
my extreme seniority. Former Heaters' drummer, Robert Dillon was on
sound for the night and so I was reasonably assured that the show would
sound much as it did at the sound-check, but perhaps even better with
a decent sized crowd through the doors.
The size of the crowd was the issue which prompted the promoters to
rebrand the Double Bill shows at the Thornbury and the Caravan Club
as 'Mike Rudd's 50th' something-or-other and include a third similarly
vintaged act on the bill, namely Chris Stockley and his band, Bram.
It was a very early sound-check, but it wasn't worth heading back home
so Maria, Robbo and I took the opportunity to to join Brenden and Glyn
(the Mason Bros) and Chrissie James at the Super Ming, a café
just down the road from the theatre for a light Asian meal where we
were able to observe at close hand Thornbury buzzing with masses of
groovy people cruising round for a groovy meal in a groovy joint - leaves
Lilydale for dead in that department. (We's turnin' into mountain folk,
We wandered into the gig just before the starting time of 8.00 (adjusted
forward from 8.30 which caught a few people by surprise) and it was
filling up nicely. By the time Chris' amiable set had finished the room
was nearly full and the Madders were ambling onto the stage.
It was immediately evident that Brenden Mason was on fire and
there was an unmistakable swagger to his guitar playing in the Madders'
set which augered well for the Spectrum set. I was duly invited to bring
my D harp to the stage for the band's final number, Bren's Badlands,
one of my fave Madder Lake contemporary numbers - and then it was Spectrum's
Initially I got a bit cranky trying to set-up my very modern iPhone
amp simulator, but pulled myself together sufficiently to crunch into
Launching Place Part 2, the new set opener.
Things were going pretty well but I was very conscious of the time because
I'd been advised there's a curfew after 11.30 and figured that as the
set stood it was going to take us well past that point - I couldn't
afford to lose any time with our special guest, former Arielist Glyn
Mason playing with the band.
Sure enough I had to ditch a song or two to bring Glyn on stage in time,
but of course it was worth it.
We launched into Glyn's statement song, I'll Not Fade Away,
which I had fun pointing out fades both in and out on the the
Goodnight Fiona album.
That was followed by the song that Billy Thorpe thought the best Australian
pop song EVAH, It's Only Love, the last Ariel single and written
by none other than our very special guest, Glyn Mason.
Then it was a sprint to the finish line, but in spite of my best intentions
it was already 11.30 when Chris Stockley joined us on mandolin to render
the one millionth version of I'll Be Gone and obviously later
still when we were encouraged by the audience to play Esmeralda,
with everybody in the room joining with us enthusiastically for both
Regrettably Glyn won't be joining us for the second 50th Anniversary
gig at the new Caravan Music Club, but I know we're going to have one
helluva time anyway on the arvo of Sunday 26th.
*pic by Maria