with The Masters Apprentices,
Spectrum & Chain
Thebarton Theatre Thursday 18 March 2021
Words – Geoff Jenke
I am of the age that I saw Fraternity play several times, “in the day”. Actually, Fraternity was the second major band I ever saw live (after The Mixtures) way back in 1971 in Pt Pirie. I then saw them in Gladstone, Peterborough, Clare and at Meadows Technicolor Fair Festival in 1972. I blame the band for my life time passion of seeing live bands. They were that good. The chance to see Fraternity songs played live again after 50 years could not be resisted.
Doug Parkinson was meant to play the show but unfortunately passed away days before the event. The show opened with a short tribute to Doug from The Master of Ceremonies, John Pemberton, and a film clip of him singing Dear Prudence followed by a standing ovation. Moving!
The (Original) Masters Apprentices opened the music with a stunning set of classic 1960’s hits and album tracks. Mick Bower, Brian Vaughton and Rick Morrison (unfortunately Gavin Webb was unwell and couldn’t play) powered through Undecided, Elevator Driver and what was Australia’s first ever Vietnam protest song War or Hands of Time. The Masters were punk, 10 years before punk became a fashion. It was great to hear the deeper cuts of Hot Gully Wind and Theme for a Social Climber as well. While no one could replace Jim Keays 0n vocals, Craig Holden does a sterling job. It was great looking at the photos and posters being screened behind the band as well. While they did a couple of the later songs like 5:10 Man and Because I Love You, songs these guys did not play on, it was the older songs that shined.
Mike Rudd’s Spectrum delivered a set of hits (I’ll Be Gone, Esmerelda) newer songs (Play a Song I Know), deep album cuts (We Are Indelible) and some blues (It’s a Lottery). Spectrum entertained while being a bit avant-garde in style.
Matt Taylor started with a tribute to Michael Gudinski and then “This band is Chain and we play Australian Rhythm and Blues” and they did. Highway 31 Shuffle rocked, Black and Blue gave us a brilliant harmonica solo and I Remember When I Was Young had the crowd on their feet. Chris Finnen on guitar was electric. I haven’t seen Chain for a long time but hopefully it won’t be long before I see them again.
The members of Fraternity available came out for an interview session. Sam See and Mauri Berg told stories about Bonn Scott, of living in the Adelaide Hills and being in London. A surprise was a video message from AC/DC singer Brian Johnson, who knew the band when they were in England.
But it was the music we came to hear. The Fraternity band was made up of some of Adelaide’s best musicians with only Sam See from the original band playing. Vince Contarino on vocals was very impressive and channeled the voice of Bonn Scott nicely. Dave Blight (Cold Chisel) on harmonica was a nice touch.
The songs took me back to 1971, a 17-year-old lad sitting on the floor of the Gladstone town hall taking in the magic of music. Sommerville, If You Got It, Raglans Folly, Grand Canyon Suite, Welfare Boogie and of course Seasons of Change were pure brilliance. Sam See told stories about the songs and about the times, all the while photos, posters and newspaper articles were screened behind the band.
Encore saw all the performers of the evening come out for a jam with The Band song The Weight. The entire audience in the theatre were on their feet and I am sure there were a few tears in the house.
Fraternity was a musical force who were probably a little too early for their time. Also, one wonders if they went to America instead of England, would life have been different. Their music was more American orientated than the glam rock of England.
It is nearly 50 years since I have heard these songs live and I guess will never hear these songs live again, more’s the pity.
It was well after midnight when we left. I have not bought a band T-Shirt for years. Tonight, I bought two and a book. It was that good.