Thursday night Adelaide’s beloved Thebarton Theatre was filled with Oz Rock nostalgia. Mythical Australian rock band ‘Fraternity’ celebrated their 50th Anniversary, with friends and peers of the era; Masters Apprentices, Chain, and Spectrum.
The night opened with compere John Pemberton of 5KA/SAFM fame, open the show with a tribute to Doug Parkinson who was billed to appear, but tragically passed away just days earlier. The crowd erupted into a standing ovation whilst a ghostly and emotional video of Dear Prudence was played.
The Masters Apprentices performed familiar hits ‘Undecided’, ‘War or Hands of Time’ , and ‘Living in A Child’s Dream’. The band’s songwriter Mick Bower explained some of the songs he created all those years ago, also paying tribute to Fraternity. The band also decided to dust off and perform rare track ‘Theme For a Social Climber’ from their debut album, which was a pleasant surprise. The Masters’ set closed with ‘Because I Love You’ and ‘Turn Up Your Radio’ followed by a video narrated by a familiar voice.
Vince Lovegrove who passed away in March 2012 (almost to the day of the concert) narrated a video about how the Fraternity phenomena occurred 50 years ago. Briefly covering the Valentines through to Fraternity moving to Adelaide. Amazing rare footage of Fraternity followed.
Spectrum performed a set that took the audience back to the Myponga Music Festival with songs like ‘Make Your Stash’. Guitarist Brenden Mason who later also performed in the Fraternity band was a stand out of the evening. The crowd erupted for “the song” as Mike Rudd introduced it “I’ll Be Gone (Someday I’ll Have Money).
A video message from Fraternity Keyboardist John Bisset followed, who was unable to travel from New Zealand to be there on the night. John introduced a video from the vault of Fraternity manager and Myponga Music Festival founder Hamish Henry. An incredible lost clip of Black Sabbath at Myponga 1971.
After intermission, a surprise appearance on screen from Shane Hewitt of Lotus along with more Hamish Henry footage of Daddy Cool at Myponga. Matt Taylor’s Chain then performed, Matt Taylor exclaiming “We are Chain and we play Australian Blues & Rock!”. The audience participated in an explosive rendition of ‘Black and Blue’. “We’re groaning!” must have been heard all round Adelaide. “I remember when I was young” finished their set, which was also very apt for the night.
John Pemberton Interviewed original members of Fraternity Sam See, John Freeman, Tony Buettel and Mauri Berg. Jimmy Barnes gave a great tribute on screen, wishing Fraternity all the best for their night. Jimmy also paid tribute to Fraternity’s Bruce Howe who he credits as his biggest inspiration. The surprises didn’t stop, John Pemberton introduced the next video guest. Brian Johnson from AC/DC paid tribute to Fraternity, recalling when they met in 1973. He remembered how Fraternity’s bus had broken down and wish he could have spent more time with them. He congratulated them on their 50th Anniversary.
A band led by Vince Contarino from Zep Boys then payed tribute to Doug Parkinson by performing ‘I’ll Be Around” with clips of Doug playing on screen. ‘If You Got It’ followed along with every song from Fraternity’s Flaming Galah album. Sam See and Brenden Mason performed all the classic prog rock guitar licks to perfection, with Fraterity’s late guitarist Mick Jurd looking over them on the screen. As another nod to the band, Mick Jurd’s widow Carole Jurd performed all the wood wind/recorder parts in songs such as ‘Seasons of Change’ and Raglan’s Folly. John Freeman’s son Harry also was eerily in sync with footage of his father on screen, as was Bon Scott with Vince Contarino.
The night finished with an all-in finale of ‘The Weight’ with John Freeman, Vince Contarino, Sam See, Matt Taylor and Mike Rudd each performing a verse. A sense of family reined over the crowd, cementing why Adelaide is the heart of Australian Music.
Throughout the night, promoter and concert organiser Victor Marshall was mentioned. Craig Holden of Masters Apprentices said “Victor is a force to reckoned with!”. If this concert is anything to go by he certainly is. He has uncovered the unreleased Fraternity recordings, culminating in a box set and the band’s official biography. Advanced copies of which were available on the night. It seems that suddenly Victor has come out of nowhere to stage one of Adelaide’s biggest concerts in recent memory. Bringing together a spectacular show like this during Covid mustn’t have been any mean feat. I am looking forward to seeing what this young talent does next.
If I could give this show more stars than 5, I would. As the screen displayed as people filed out, Long Live Fraternity.