Tamam Shud back on stage at Byron Bay's Great Northgern Hotel. Al Heeney photo
The Northern New South Wales Australian coastline has changed dramatically over the last 50 years.
Remember the pilgrimage of holiday time, with caravans lined up on the Pacific Highway…the tribe of kids in the backseat of the Kingwood (or Ford Falcons) bellowing out of boredom on the inteminable drive north? Then there was the weekend pilgrimage of surfers with their Sandman panel vans. Followed, of course, by the night drive back to work to Monday. It was a long trip back down to Sydney with car headlights on high beam, dodging speeding semi-trailers with speed-driven truckies, in-between stopovers at the Oak Milk Bar or the Big Banana.
Dotted along the NSW coast, from Hornsby to the Gold Coast, are memories. Of stop-overs at Frangipani-lined caravan parks, or pitstops at the homes of relatives. Memories marked by places like Foster, Nambucca Heads, Coffs and Byron. Sleepy little towns that were bursting at the seams on long weekends and Chrissie holidays.
Steve Lorkin photo
More than a decade ago, I was sitting in a Sydney pub with a beer after a Bob Dylan concert. I was amidst Dylan fans, including Jenny Kee, the ’60s fashion icon, “OZ” magazine figure and Buddhist. Jenny is a deep thinker and was peeling back layers on the Dylan show we had both witnessed. She turned to me in mid-conversation and asked a question I won’t forget.
“Do you think Dylan is deeply spiritual and has soul consciousness on stage?”
My answer after much thought was: “I can’t answer that, as I believe Bob lived many lifetimes and always felt he was guarded on that level, except in his born-again phase. That said, his songs are from the heart and mostly from his mind.”
Jenny responded. “I saw Lou Reed last year. I believe he does, as he is on that journey.”
“I can’t say that about Bob or even Lou Reed. But after seeing Patti Smith live, I believe she does and that it comes from a very deep realm, in fact one could call it soul consciousness.”
That was my answer all those years ago that night in Haymarket. I've always believed Patti is indeed a special performer.
Blondie and her session men plus Clem Burke (obscured). Dean Ertl photo
I come at this review as a fan. Since 1976 (earlier if you count the Dolls and the Velvets), I have been enamoured of that New York New Wave sound. It's a broad church. Suicide could thrash synthesizers and Television could probe the stratosphere with spiralling lead guitar lines. The Ramones could make dumb look smart.
The Talking Heads sounded nothing like the Heartbreakers. The Fast sounded nothing link Mink DeVille. But the scene was still recognisable as a whole.
Blondie lived in the spotlight of eternal summer despite spending a lifetime dodging sun rays. You could be walking through the Lower East Side, see a boy you liked and say hello. Even if you found yourself charged with solicitation, everything would be all right because you are young, beautiful and in love.