Her Majesty’s Theatre, Mon May 4
Athol Guy has assembled some of his talented and long-standing friends to take Athol Guy – The Seekers Story on tour. It’s an affectionate remembrance of his time with Australia’s first internationally-successful pop/folk group. The show combines the story of The Seekers with sights and sounds that describe the musical context of the times, and the result is a pleasing way to spend an evening.
Guy narrates the show, and does a good job of opening the evening’s proceedings and setting the scene, accompanied by an audio/visual potted history of the band. He chats warmly and comfortably with the crowd that consists of what appears to be long-time fans of The Seekers, providing nuggets of little-known history (including video footage of his early forays into popular music) and cracking the odd joke.
After 20 minutes, Guy is joined on stage by the band. Buddy England and Jenny Blake share lead vocals, Rod Hulls provides keyboard, backing vocals and sequenced backline/strings etc, and Michael Cristiano plays guitar and also provides some vocal assistance. Guy plays his famous double bass on The Seekers’ songs.
Before we get to any Seekers music, tonight’s band plays a medley of songs that influenced the nascent folkies (“three bank tellers and a secretary”) back in the day. It’s a pretty standard set of songs: Little Darlin’, Teddy Bear, That’ll Be The Day, We Shall Not Be Moved and Help Me Rhonda. The band sounds good, and the performance is met with approval from the stalls. England is invited to showcase a couple of his ‘60s singles, Doll House and Movin’ Man. His voice is in pretty good nick.
The band takes a break, and Guy presents a video showing highlights from the 1965 New Musical Express All-Star Poll Winners Concert. Most of the great English bands of the times are featured, as well as The Seekers. Guy and his band present the song featured on the film, I’ll Never Find Another You. The audience responds favourably to hearing a Seekers song being performed live, and are rewarded when this is followed by A World Of Our Own. A three-song tribute to The Springfields and Dusty Springfield follows; Silver Threads And Golden Needles, You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me and I Only Want To Be With You are delivered with the expected gusto. More video footage follows, showing the break-up announcement as well as later incarnations of the band that didn’t feature original singer Judith Durham.
As the show moves into its last section, the band performs Morningtown Ride, the Bee Gee’s Massachusetts, and a couple more Buddy England songs. The final video features a segment from the ABC television’s The Games, featuring the cast of the program masquerading as The Seekers. It’s a somewhat curious selection, but garners a few laughs.
For the finale, the band reappears and presents two of The Seekers’ best known and best loved songs, Georgy Girl and The Carnival Is Over. The audience claps and sings along, before Guy and his friends bid Adelaide farewell and leave the stage to generous applause, with many standing to show their gratitude.
All up this is a solid night of entertainment; a warm recounting of a personal story, deeply meshed with a broader musical description of the times.