Bon Scott Celebration Concert @ Claremont Showgrounds, Perth (25/2/2007)

Through the blazing heat came the concert any Australian bogan could happily make their final, the Bon Scott Celebration Concert. An amazing lineup of Australian rock & roll greats was present with help from some superb local up-and-comers to bring the Bon Scott ethic to the Claremont Showgrounds for a day.

It was an amazing turnout, making this the event one of the major success stories so far this year. The organisation of the event was amazing and band changeovers were executed perfectly: while the set times of the earlier bands were a touch short, (the first four bands played 15 minute sets) the timetable was strictly adhered to, making drink and toilet runs a little easier for the punters. At the very start of the day, before the showgrounds started to fill, the sound was perfect and brought that great ACDC style ‘crunch’ to the mix.

With such a well organised concert it was a delight to have such an excellent crowd in participation. Partiers up the front and families up the back was the general arrangement, with everyone appreciating the music, having a good time and leaving the aggro at home.

The Volcanics have quickly established themselves as a solid rock foundation in Perth’s local music scene. They play a Stooges-inspired rock that is tight and driving but still dirty and dangerous. They were a peculiar choice for the opening act, as their ability has long since been proven. Starting up just as the punters began to enter the grounds, the band coaxed the first through the gates towards the stage. The early time slot didn’t shy the frontman John Phatouros from getting crazy and setting a precedent for the day’s festivities.

In their quickfire set, the Sure-Fire Midnights showed they have a rock & roll attitude straight from Bon Scott’s book. Just like Scott, these girls obviously love doing what they do and it’s hard not to get caught up in the infectious good time they create while on stage. They play catchy punk rock reminiscent of Sahara Hotnights and The Donnas and their short, fast and stabbing tracks easily keep the attention of the early but gathering crowd. The band’s inner friendship creates a united force with which they use to take over the stage, helped along with their energy and attitude. Not only are the Midnights a band to look out for, they are also carrying the torch for that rock & roll attitude.

The Flairz are a very young band, already with some history and experience under their little belts. Credit where credit is due however, these guys do have skill. While at times the rest of the band looked a little unenthused, vocalist John Mariani showed off his great controlled scream and some great guitar technique.

The Kill Devil Hills are at the more country influenced end of the rock & roll scale among today’s acts and at this show, they stepped it up a gear from their more recent shows and played a stronger, more driven set. Although the songs are slightly slower and some more laid back than some of the other actsthey still put on a great performance. Unfortunately a 15-minute set just doesn’t do them justice, and they looked like they were just starting to warm up as it was time to wrap it up. Even with the abbreviated set though, The Kill Devil Hills still easily won the respect of the crowd.

Dave Warner’s From the Suburbs played a vocal dominated rock that appealled to the older folk in the crowd. Putting on a consistent performancem, Dave Warner did a good job as a frontman, however the simpler music and nostalgic lyrics failed to reach the majority of the crowd. As the Screaming Jets followed, the flock of people towards the stage indicated an obvious step up in musical notoriety. The Screaming Jets have been around for some time now and they have the moves and synchronisation to prove it. Frontman Dave Gleeson has some serious rock star moves going on and the crowd lapped it up from beginning to end. The great classic rock sound fits the occasion ideally, but the nostalgia associated with their hits brings a slight disappointment. While still rocking, the prelude to the choruses of their popular hits was a little over emphasised, taking away the build-up of the songs.

Next up were The Party Boys, containing many high profile identities from Australian rock. It is actually quite hard to class this group of talent as an actual ‘band’, with musicians appearing on, and leaving the stage at regular intervals to perform some classic songs and great jams. The set started with some great acoustic blues by Dave Tice (Buffalo) and Mark Evans (AC/DC) including a cover of Little Red Rooster. Alan Lancaster of Status Quo fame fronted to play some greats such as Roadhouse Blues and Rockin’ All Over the World. Evans, one-time ACDC vocalist, hyped the crowd up and belted out some ACDC in very respectable fashion.

A real highlight of the set, and indeed the day was the appearance of Angry Anderson out front to perform Highway to Hell. The Angels were in great form and reminded the crowd how many hits they have produced throughout their career. While the crowd calls repeatedly for, and some could think comments made by the band allude to it, Doc Neeson does not appear with the band. While to see Doc with the band would have been great for nostalgia sake, the band still held their own in every respect. As they appeared on stage at twilight, The Angels opened with their first single Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again?. The crowd immediately joined in and chanted the classic response to the chorus of this song. As the sun set and darkness fell across the oval, the crowd continued to sing along to the greatest hits set from the band, particular highlights being No Secrets and We Gotta Get Outta This Place.

By the time Rose Tattoo were due to come on stage the sun had completely gone down and the crowd was high in anticipation. Rose Tattoo’s reputation was evident when the crowd at the front of the stage once again rearranged itself ready for the intensity of these rock & roll outlaws. The band finally came out and started their set with a track from their most recent album – a brave move for any band with such a well known and loved back catalogue of music, let alone in front of this crowd. Rose Tattoo, however, managed with ease. Their new material is just as sleazy and rocky as their older, and the crowd accepted it without a problem. Their set was super tight throughout, although there were a few big numbers missing  namely Nice Boys and Bad Boy For Love  but the attitude and sound produced had the crowd rocking, even without being able to chorus every word. Angry Anderson made no effort to hold back on showing how much fun he was having up front of his band, while the other boys also made it obvious they loved performing once again. Rose Tat finished up with their classic We Can’t Be Beaten leaving the adoring crowd desperate for a West Australian Rose Tattoo headline tour.

No sooner had Rose Tattoo left the stage than the ‘special treat’ (as the timetable described) began to arrange themselves. When the marching band formed on stage with members of the many bands that played today, everyone knew the song that was to be played. As each everybody in the showgrounds sang along to Long Way to the Top, a fantastic, well performed day of celebrating Bon Scott came to an end. The day was a complete success, easily achieving the objective of raising enough money to erect a statue of Scott in Fremantle. The greater success came in the sheer size and mood of the crowd, and the well organised event staff that pulled off a concert like this in such regimented fashion. What a huge boost for the West Australian music scene as well as Bon Scott fans and music lovers alike.