I found you when I was gone
Lost in a sea of people
Alone in that crowed city
Suddenly your voice was strong
I Found You. M.S. 1987
I guess I had been trying not to think about it too much, but as I made my way around that Adelaide pub and towards the back door to wait for the band to emerge I know the thought popped into my head a few times. It was hard not to think about that little voice inside my head which I thought until that time must have guided me to where I was. It made sense since that I was led there because I couldn’t consciously remember any of the near twenty kilometre walk. But with little else to do other than listen to the music escaping the pub walls I did start to wonder if there even was a little voice in my head, or if like Reginald Wentworth III I left him standing at the gate of my parents home in the suburbs.
There was a bouncer on the rear door who didn’t seem at all worried about a teenager with a suitcase hanging around at the back of a pub in the wee hours of the morning. In fact after less than three minutes he worried so little about it that we were chatting away and he was offering to get me a drink from inside.
Not entirely sure what pubs sold, other than alcohol, which I had never tasted but knew what it did to people, I ordered a Coke hoping they sold them. What turned up a few minutes later in a plastic glass with ice blocks in it was definitely Coke, but the tangy, bitter additive that was inside it was completely new to me. I sat on that one drink for long enough not to be asked for another.
The sound coming out the back door of that pub was different to the what I was hearing from the front. The rawness, the speed and the power were still present and Jim’s vocals were relentless but the sound was muffled somewhat by the walls and the fact that venue PA systems pumped noise into the venue not back stage.
But it was Ian’s guitar that I felt the most, every chord struck me in the chest and every note resonated in my head. I had never touched a guitar in my fifteen years but before the band finished that night there was a spark inside me that was desperate to ignite something more. I’m not even sure I felt it at that particular moment but as the spark grew in to a flame I grew to realise where it had grown from.
I don’t remember exactly what I told the bouncer but whatever it was must have been the right words because not only did he not tell me to beat it we stood there listening to the music coming out of the open door until the band finished. Not only that when the road crew started loading the gear out of the venue and into the truck he offered them my services as a ‘roadie’.
Despite the band breaking into the big time of Australian music they were a pub band through and through. They lived and breathed the atmosphere that was the pub scene, a scene that was reportedly like no other scene in the world. But all that success did not seem to change them, they related to the crowds to which they sung and they regularly offered a leg up to bands and friends when it was needed. Some of the media of the day took to reporting only the seedy side of the band, the drinking, the drugs and the debauchery, but as their fan base grew those stories only helped cement their popularity.
However the reason I offered that brief history of the band is not for their benefit but because from drinks with a bouncer, to helping the road crew load out, a fifteen year old with no name had his life changed forever.
By the time the band had finished playing it was after 2am, I’d been awake since 6am the previous day and I’d walked twenty kilometres in a haze to get where I was. But when I was asked to help the crew load out of the pub I jumped at the chance. I may not have been all that strong, a little scrawny compared to some of the guys on the crew, and I may not have actually worked a day in my life, but there was nothing that could have stopped me. Still to this day I can not say honestly why that drive was there, I can only put it down to that spark I mentioned earlier.
It was 5am when the crew finally shut the doors on the back of the gear truck, the sun wasn’t quite coming up and in the city it’s always darker than the suburbs, but day was unmistakably dawning. I felt amazing, so alive, so refreshed, I’d been awake twenty three hours but felt like I had just woken up from a long slumber. It was a feeling I wouldn’t feel again for sometime.
“Have you got somewhere to go young fella?”
I heard as went to grab my suitcase from the cabin of the crew truck where it had been put for safe keeping. The voice belonged to Snapper, I’d later find out his real name was Steve and his nickname was related to something he did with women that I didn’t at the time understand, he was the boss of the road crew and was the one who made the decision to let me help load out.
“I’ll find somewhere.” I was probably a little sullen having realised that my interesting evening was coming to an end but my voice didn’t show it. However a fifteen year old carrying a suitcase in the wee hours of the morning obviously told more of a story that my words did.
“Why don’t you get in the truck and you can come home with us for today.”