Monday, April 21, 2008

For A Short Time

There's a beautiful song the Weddos sing, called For A Short Time, about a girl the band met on tour in Europe.
Sometimes you can feel more for someone you've barely kissed
But you don't see it at the time and the moment that you've missed
Years later they tried to make contact with her, only to find out that she'd died some time before.
For a long time, you never thought of her
then you heard she was gone for good
The saddest part of the song goes:
Tell me how long is a short time is it longer than 2 hours
Or a bit more than a weekend is it shorter than a year
Is it the time it takes to not complete your business with a person
With a friend you make in transit, to a daughter held so dear.
When Mick sang the tell me how long is a short time bit on Saturday night he sang: is it shorter than 10 years? which gave us all goosebumps. That's how long it's been since the band split, but those ten years somehow melted away in the opening chords of the first song. Not just for me and Fixit either, it was as if that feeling went all round the room. The crowd was older, fatter and balder but nothing had changed for all of us. Well, okay, the mosh pit was comparatively tame, the beers cost twice as much, you could actually breathe because the venue is non-smoking (although someone remarked that the lack of smoke meant you could smell all the farts, and with a room full of beer-drinking men there were plenty of farts) and we didn't get to witness any (middle-aged) crowd surfing although I'm told there had been some on other nights. But everyone still knew all the words, and joined in on all the special singing bits, everybody hurled coins with reckless abandon when they sang ten cents short of a dollar in the song Ticket in Tatts, and everyone had the sort of rip-roaring good night that they'd always had at a Weddos' gig.

With maybe a little bit more, a touch of piquancy because it had been so long between drinks. An incredible energy and warmth. You could feel the love in the room, flowing both ways. As Mick Thomas told the kids at the family friendly gig on Sunday, congratulating them on their induction and addressing their future as gig-goers, the beer will never be this cheap again, the shirts will never be this bad and the band will never be this happy. They did look happy. And they rocked.

I ended up going twice, firstly with Fixit on Saturday night and secondly with the Climber to the kid-friendly show on Sunday afternoon. Fixit and I had a great time and were pathetically proud of ourselves for kicking on til 3.30am. (Nell had a sleepover and kindly managed the boys the next morning for us too)

After the show the band came out front for autographing duties which was when I got to properly see them again, lots of hugs and catchings up. And more of the same later in the band room, with girlfriends and crew and friends. Most people who know WPA know Mick Thomas (above on the left); he is the lead singer, the motivating force, a talented singer and song-writer, a great story-teller and a really good person. On the right is Stephen "Irish" O'Prey (yes, he is in fact Irish, we Australians are good at nicknames) who joined the band at around the same time I started working with them and so I always felt an extra bond with him. His bass playing makes you want to dance, he is outrageously funny and also kind-hearted. Behind me is Canadian Ron Hawkins, ex-The Lowest of the Low, who was the guest support. He was so good, and when he got up with band to sing Rosey & Grey (his song, which the Weddos had been covering for years) it was just amazing. So amazing that I have a bit of a crush on him now, don't tell Fixit.

Below, you can see me with Squeezebox Wally who is the man everybody loves the most in that band because he is a beautiful soul. When we used to book the accommodation Wally was the one we could room with anyone, no small feat in a band. He was a child prodigy at accordion playing, and he and Mick Thomas (at left) were the only two in the band from the start to the finish. You can also see violinist Jen Anderson here. She's great. It wasn't easy being the only chick in such a blokey band but I think she did it so well. Mick Thomas used to say how good it was having her in the band because of her musicianship keeping him in line. She and the band's merchandise man, Chelsea Dave recently got engaged, I got to admire her ring.

This is the drummer, Michael Barf Barclay, whose incredible, energetic drumming in Sergeant Small makes it my favourite song but who also has the most gorgeous singing voice. I wish he sang more. I tell him that every time I see him.
Lead guitarist Paul Thomas, who has the kind of innate cool that other rock stars aspire to. When I toured with the band to Adelaide I was trying to round everyone up for the trip home in the Tarago and Paul was partying on so he pretty much told me to f*ck off. Which because I'm a sensitive flower made me cry - luckily I had Irish looking after me, telling me what a bastard Thommo was. Anyway, later on Paul obviously felt really dreadful about it and as I drove them all out of Adelaide he leaned forward and said to me You're a really good driver. I seriously thought he was mocking me and my face must have shown that because he looked all worried and said no, really, I mean it. It was his little apology and I've loved him ever since.

Hey, it's not much but it's my rocknroll anecdote, okay.

On Sunday I dragged Climber along to the family gig - so many kids there! We had to queue to get in (despite our guest-list status) and as we waited we were joined by ex-Tiddas chick Sally Dastey, who was a great friend of the Weddos and toured with them many times. She'd brought her son who was Climber's age so the 4 of us decided to stick together. A friend/fan from the past sherpaed us to a great spot side-stage, right up front, where the boys settled in with their lemonade and chips. Sal often used to sing with the Weddos when they played For A Short Time; the Tiddas' recorded their own version, and Sal has the most gorgeous voice. When it started on Sunday night, she looked slightly anguished. She said I feel like I should be singing it with them. I said you should be. She said I don't know if it would be rude. I didn't know either but I said it would be great if you sang. So she clambered to the stage, the bouncer took a moment to realise what was happening and went to pull her back but Paul said No, she's right. Mick didn't notice - he was wrapped up in his singing of the song - until her voice joined his in beautiful, familiar harmony. Then his face changed; the expression that crossed his face was .. well the closest I can get to describing it is how you might look when after a hard day's work you pull on your comfy slippers.

One more excellent memory from a weekend full of them. More photos and a little bit of video footage here.


  1. Good times. I'm so glad.

    God, you're beautiful in the photos. Good genes plus tap dancing ... or maybe you have one of those paintings up in the attic like Dorian Grey?

  2. Wow!! I felt like I was there with you!

    Sounded like an awesome night out...and honestly, I can't remember the last time I was up til 3:30 am. Pathetic, isn't it?


  3. You are positively radiant! I love how you described everything - it was like being able to be there, as family adventure said.

    And I don't know if it's just me and second trimester hormones, but I got all weepy, like three times, just reading this. So glad you had such a fantastic time!

  4. I agree with the others, a fantastic post that made me feel like I was there! Which is great really, because now when anybody says "how was your weekend" I have something to replace the "umpf, just boring housework" with "I went the the WPA concert! As a special guest!"

  5. Wow, sounds like an awesome couple of events. I saw WPA a couple of times with some friends who were regulars, devotees I guess, and they rocked. The poignancy of the reunion you descibe sort of sends a little chill, the good sort..

    And you look like such a rock chick on the photos, tres cool! :)

  6. Rock on people! Rock on!!

    I feel like I've met a celebrity. Even if I'm only living through you. That looks like a grand old time. Both times round.

    O Lord I've missed you Aunty E.

  7. Good golly, you really were WITH the band! What an incredible night. I'm glad you had such a wonderful, nostalgic, warm-hearted time.

    And just so you know, I will never approach your cool-ness!

  8. The 1st picture is particularly flattering of you. I'd make a zillion copies and have it dropped from airplanes.


  9. Wow...what a great post. I feel like I was there with you too.

    So great for reunions to end up this way, and not in that disconcerting feeling of anticlimax as they so often do.

  10. That Sally Dastey story was the cream on the cake for me. It could be a movie!!!

    Such an amazing, warm post.

  11. Wow! What great memories.
    Takes me back to my time in Melbourne when I used to go and see bands all the time. I think I only saw the Weds once but I saw Tidas many many times because I LOVED them.
    It must have been a wonderful time for you. Thanks for sharing :)

  12. You are Way cool. And so Melbourne.

  13. In every photo I see joy - pure radiating joy.

  14. Thanks for sharing the night, I felt like I was there all over again... even down to the fart smells. I would have loved to share a weddoes gig with my kids.
    For a Short Time is one of my all time favourite songs, I heard it first performed by the Tiddas and it took my breath away.
    I agree about Micahel Barclay's voice, it is sublime. I liked the old drummer too, (can't remember his name though), and the way he used to play "Ticket in Tatts' on a Strongbow bottle.

  15. I'm just so happy because there's so much happiness here. In the pictures, in the writing, and in the comments...

    Thanks for inviting us to bask in your sunshine :)

  16. Oh Man!

    That's just sooo cool.

    Urban poets, working class love loss and life. Man I just love it.

    And Tiddas, their 1996 self titled album, is amongst my cafe cds.

    You look like you had the best time.

  17. What a fabulous weekend! Did Climber enjoy himself? I bet he's still talking about it!


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