The Hoodoo Gurus at Scarborough Amphitheatre

– by Tom Munday

Boosted by gorgeous beaches, fun social atmosphere, and an endless amount of sun, Scarborough Beach caters specifically to those working for the weekend. Scarborough Amphitheatre was transformed from casual picnic spot into a rock-star’s paradise for one of Australian music’s most popular and impressive acts. The Hoodoo Gurus, sporting a mass fan-base over its illustrious 33-year run, is one band you must see before you die. Indeed, the event, just one part of their Be My Guru tour, was truly unbelievable.

The crowd filed in as the clock slowly ticked towards 3:30pm. The bright-clothed, big-rimmed hatted audience perked up whenever a sound technician walked across the stage. Carrying picnic packs, deckchairs, and drinks into the venue, the crowd embraced the Sunday vibe. As sunshine shimmered across the ocean in the background, the event’s Summery atmosphere marked a fun start to the Christmas season. Food and merchandise vendors grew arduous lines, with audience members lapping up the experience. This spacious, likeable venue – blanketed by the smell of sunscreen and sea salt – deliver the ultimate Scarborough experience.

Running parallel to Stereosonic, this event overcame its significant competition with vigour. Melbourne cult-hit pop-rock troupe British India was first off the block. The band, tasked with amping up the half-full venue, had a mountain to climb to keep everyone entertained. Politely addressing the crowd, the eclectic ensemble strutted between casual and enthusiastic. Enjoying the sun and pleasant vibes, their fun sense of humour accentuated their slick stage dynamic. Opening track Wrong Direction made for an appropriate mood-setter. As the sound echoes across the amphitheatre, the band and crowd intermingled succinctly. Matched by a hearty crowd, renditions of Blinded and Plastic Souvenirs established a 1990/2000s local-rock vibe. Aided by lead singer Declan Melia’s sharp vocals resonated with the broad-ranging audience. In addition, working through minor communication issues, renditions of Run the Red Light and Summer Forgive Me, and I Can Make You Love Me weaved a mix of influences into something original.

From there, the event transitioned from Victorian velour to Western Australian royalty. Rock icon Jebediah, excelling throughout the 90s and 00s, came out swinging. Elevating the crowd’s excitement, opening track Fall Down brought the group back into the public consciousness. Carrying a selection of indie numbers and smash hits, the group’s electrifying stage presence and unique look were difficult to ignore. Between songs, lead singer Kevin Mitchell’s larger-than-life persona bewitched the crowd. Swearing profusely, his rough language riffed against the event’s family-friendly aura. Breaking into catchy renditions of Control and It’s Over, the group’s electrifying guitar riffs and steely vocals crafted a lively sound. The mosh pit grew whilst Please Leave and She’s Like A Comet blared across the suburbs. Rounded out with Harpoon, Leaving Home, and Teflon, Jebediah’s set added to the toe-tapping, head-bopping vibe.

The next act, Ratcat, took the event up one-or-two notches. Being their fits WA adventure in 20 years, the band looked and felt like tourists lost on the coastline. Awash in Australian music’s famous classic-rock glow, the group came off like British India and Jebediah’s astute but easy-going mentor. Resonating with the wide-ranging crowd, the band opened up with a rousing instrumental track. Developing new fans, renditions of That Ain’t Bad and Yes I Wanna Go received rousing acclaim from the frenzied audience. The group’s rich and explosive pop-rock style stood out from the pack. Lead singer Simon Day’s distinctive vocals reverberated across the amphitheatre. Despite the blistering wind and technical issues, renditions of She’s A Gas, Time Bomb (of Hate), and Baby Baby delivered an optimistic, up-beat tempo. Aided by Jebadiah’s lead, Away From This World and Don’t Go in the Water ended their set flawlessly.

The sun setted valiantly on a gorgeous weekend, as crashing waves and squawking seagulls refined the bustling ambiance. Next, the Hoodoo Gurus were set to bring Scarborough Beach to a standstill. Channel 7 newscaster Rick Ardon motivated the crowd with his signature vocal pattern. This was set to be one of the band’s biggest and brightest performances ever. This was the first ever instance of all eight, current and former, Gurus playing together. In addition, the performance was to be captured by a documentary team covering the band’s success in the music world. Certainly, for the past three-and-a-half decades, the chart-topping rock group has been one of Australia’s most precious gems. First up, the original members –Dave Faulkner, Roddy Radalj, Kimble Rendall, Clyde Bramley, and James Baker – stepped up on stage to the crowd’s overwhelming delight.

The golden Gurus kicked off the event with hits from their most recent EP Gravy Train. Their performance was simply awe-inspiring, with an eclectic light show and scintillating audience response illuminating these rock-gods of future past. Faulkner, a founding and still-current lead singer, warmly thanked Perth (arguably, the group’s home town) and their rambunctious audience. Despite the chilly wind, Faulkner’s signature vocals highlighted their nostalgic classic-rock glow. Appeal to everyone from youngsters to long-term fans, each track adds to the band’s reputation. Their true-to-form 70s sound established the band as one of Australia’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll acts. Heading into well-known tracks like Dig it Up, their raw, earthy tones and smooth rhythms sent the mosh pit into chaos.

The old and new groups were as charismatic as ever, sporting elaborate 80s-style get-ups and manic personas. The second act replaced four of the original members with the new class. The current Hoodoo Gurus – Faulkner, Brad Shepard, Richard Grossman, and Mark Kingsmill – stepped on stage to cut deep into a mix of major hits and obscure rock-blues numbers. Their rendition of My Girl and Tojo sent shiver through the already rabid audience. Sending the pit into waves of joy, the group’s stage presence never surrendered. Cutting through old and new albums and EPS, the bad strived to deliver Perth’s best ever concert experience. I Was A Kamikaze and On My Street helped to unleash Faulkner’s soulful stage presence, eliciting a rousing crowd chorus. Renditions of That’s my Scene and Like Wow – Wipeout! became sing-a-long highlights, boosting the atmospheric glow.

Come Anytime reached the peak of this awe-inspiring live-music journey. The ensemble then launched into Beauty of Essence’s grittier efforts. Crackin’ Up, 1000 Miles Away, and The Right Time dug straight into their most ambitious flourishes. The third act invited the original crew to play alongside the current group. Fitting multiple guitarists and drummers up on stage, the eight Gurus transformed this one-and-only concert into a hearty, well-meaning experience. The family reunion theme pierced through a show-stopping rendition of Leilani. Called back for an encore, they ended the exclusive gig/extensive set with stirring group ballads of Who Do You Love and, fittingly, Rock and Roll (Part 2). Unquestionably, this anthem-fuelled concert was the perfect homage to Australian rock. We’re all Gurus, now!

Photo credit: Matthew Picken.

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