There are two types of folk that attend a nostalgic celebration like Long Way To The Top: those who lived it and those who wish they lived it.
Whatever the motive for attendance, few would argue against the joy of watching the seeds of Australian music still sprouting 40 years later. Thorpe, Cadd, Shorrock, Keays, Morris, Parkinson – these are figures that reflect a generation and symbolise a local culture still ingrained today.
The sense of nostalgia was happily inescapable. On the left sat a baby boomer from Moe who used to fork over five dollars to see AC/DC at her local.
She represented a healthy portion of the crowd. On the right sat a 24-year-old brunette whose father – the late Lobby Loyde – would’ve been on stage too had best mate Billy Thorpe not got sick and tired of waiting for someone to jam with in the afterlife.
This, the 10th anniversary since the first Long Way To The Top tour, contained one notable difference to its incarnation; the 80s. As unlikely as it may have initially seemed, the addition of Dragon, Mi-Sex and, in particular, Noiseworks proved a masterstroke by omnipresent promoter Michael Chugg.
Most things in this world age, whether it is by the passing of time or otherwise. Jon Stevens doesn’t age. He’s immune.
Built like a Russian Olympian with his frontman form still in tact, he lifts the night to grandstand heights with ‘Take Me Back’ and ‘No Lies’. Their Kiwi cohorts Dragon do likewise with ‘Are You Old Enough?’ and ‘April Sun In Cuba’.
Not to be outdone were the mainstays. Col Joye, who had the enviable task of opening the night, prompted the first of many clap-a-longs. Brain Cadd continued to disprove his doctor’s prognosis by; a) surviving after years of questionable intake, and b) re-teaming with Glenn Shorrock to deliver ‘A Little Ray Of Sunshine’.
Shorrock himself played a prominent role with samples of his time with The Twilights (‘Needle In A Haystack’) and LRB (‘Help Is On Its Way’). Elsewhere, John Paul Young channeled the Easybeats while Little Pattie interjected the rock and blues vibe of the night with her starry-eyed surf pop.
To name further highlights would be superfluous; each act was as good as the last. After four decades – five for some – of performing, the breadth of live delivery from these legends was astounding. Only some static feedback and an incompetent voiceover MC marred an otherwise glitch-free two and a half hour show.
The centerpiece of the night – indeed the centerpiece of the tour – was Billy Thorpe. Re-imagined via the same hologram technologies that brought Tupac to Coachella, it was a moment as emotional as it was nostalgic.
Appearing first to deliver the spine-tingling – and humorous – ‘Girls Of Summer’, the holographic Thorpe later closed proceedings by trading licks with Ian Moss during ‘Most People I Know (Think That I’m Crazy)’.
Attributing words to the experience do little justice. Suffice to say if anyone needed reminding of Thorpe’s place and relevance, that was it. As the lyrics in his posthumously released ‘Girls Of Summer’ live recording foretold, ‘we’ll never see their likes again’.