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Live Review: Pure Gold Live

17 May 2016 | 2:31 pm | Bryget Chrisfield

"We leave the venue treasuring live reminders of songs and bands that made us fall in love with music in the first place."

Shaddap You Face by Joe Dolce makes a perfect intro tape for the golden oldie delights ahead as all assembled sing along and warm up their vocal cords. We've been promised "17 Acts" and "34 Massive Hits". Music that sounds like it's from a disaster flick accompanies a countdown to showtime on the stage's back screen. The Pure Gold Live all-star band take us through a brief history of Australian music with snippets of hits from yonder year, satisfyingly culminating in Don't Change by INXS which backing vocalist Robyn Loau struts on stage just in time to finish out.

Our first legend for the night is Swanee, who wanders out into the audience and up the aisle presenting If I Were A Carpenter (his lyrical, "Would you have my baby?" query probably past its expiration date given Pure Gold's demographic). Sharon O Neill's Maxine is next and the Kiwi next to us, who earlier admitted he'd never before seen her extraordinary talent showcased live on stage, is in heaven. Send Me An Angel delivered by dapper David Sterry demonstrates a vocal timbre that continues to serve him well, although we wish he had a guitar on hand for that solo (Jak Housden deserves acknowledgement for his outstanding guitar playing throughout the night, however).

Supplying admirable keys all night, Paul Gray comes out from behind his station to front Wa Wa Nee, the closest an Australian band ever got to emulating Prince (except that now we have Harts). Gray's keytar dazzles and Wa Wa Nee are permitted two numbers — that effervescent masterpiece Stimulation and the especially Prince-referencing Sugar Free. Wa Wa Nee coax a few scattered bodies to their feet for a boogie.

"How the fuck are ya?" enquires Alex Smith from Moving Pictures and it's straight into satisfying screech-along What About Me? That plaintive saxophone reminds us just how much this instrument, when played well, can elevate a song and the result is a collective therapy session for us disgruntled old farts. Smith could've left that leather pork pie hat at home, however; it's a bit Good Charlotte, plus Smith doesn't need it - he still has a full head of hair!

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Shane Howard hits the stage and Goanna's Razor's Edge is s bit of a downer, so much so that some audience members notice (bald) Bruce Curnow tweaking one of the drum kits - OMG! Are Kids In The Kitchen up next? As soon as the didge intro for Solid Rock kicks in, however, all are upstanding for one of our excellent unofficial national anthems.

Deborah Conway accidentally says "contraception" instead of "conception" in an intro (LOL), but nothing could prepare us for the brilliance of Do-Re-Mi's Man Overboard; minimal and funky with those bleep-worthy lyrics ("Your pubic hairs are on pillow") — so risque for the '80s! And the band look like they have a ball playing this way-ahead-of-its-time track. Gold 104.3 presenter Jo Stanley can't contain her excitement while briefly interviewing Conway post-performance.

It's now time for Kids In The Kitchen to play their first show together in 18 years (sadly minus keys player Alastair Coia) and we've already spotted a rival fan gang upstanding and vying for the band's attention. Scott Carne bounds out sporting cool shades and he immediately flashes back to those bouncy side-to-side dance moves before whipping out a spin during Bitter Desire. Mentally ingrained lyrics we thought we'd forgotten flow out throughout Current Stand — "The fun, the hurt, the joy... " - and Carne's voice sounds even better than it did in the band's heyday. Seeing four out of the five KITK band members who graced our teenage bedroom walls back together on stage again makes us feel giddy and Change In Mood goes way too quickly. They were slow to jump on the nostalgia bandwagon, but the reception Kids In The Kitchen receive this evening proves there's definitely demand for a full headline tour.

Our second half opens with a collection of musicians assembled thanks to a radio competition who we're told have only played as a 'band' for 12 days. They sing The Screaming Jets' Better and we wish they were just that.

Sean Kelly then presents I Hear Motion, which sounds way more current than most of the music currently hogging our airwaves. His snarling presence of old is replaced by a jaunty, over-exaggerated box step plus a few other bizarre movements we don't recall him pulling out back in the day. We can't really place Wendy Stapleton and reckon we probably got her mixed up with Wendy Matthews.

Throughout the evening, punters check Facebook or the live AFL app during acts they're less familiar with. Bizarrely, 1927 singer Eric Weideman sings, "Thank you very much, everybody," within crowd-favourite singalong If I Could.

Steve Kilbey's moves have always been riveting, but he performs some actual star jumps during Unguarded Moment — totally jaw-dropping creative movement. Under The Milky Way, though — it simply doesn't get much better than this song, which somehow makes the most unpatriotic among us swell with national pride.

With oodles of experience rocking the stage as part of Absolutely '80s, Dale Ryder delivers Onion Skin with panache and we all wonder, yet again, why Boom Crash Opera didn't enjoy INXS-level success.

It seems weird that Chocolate Starfish are awarded almost-top billing, especially to perform a cover (You're So Vain). By now our hosts, Stanley and Anthony "Lehmo" Lehmann, seem drunk and disorderly — we just want more hits!

Pseudo Echo experience technical difficulties so hipster Brian Canham (that ye olde beard, curled 'tache and burgundy bowler hat!) performs A Beat For You ("the unplugged version") before it's all systems go for the delightful keyboard cacophony that is Listening. They chuck in a bit of AC/DC's Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap then a discordant Prince tribute thanks to 1999 and we're unsure as to whether the latter even belongs in an evening celebrating Australian music. Then it's off to Funky Town and it has to be said that original material goes down way better tonight.

The red suit covered with eyes all over that Grace Knight from Eurogliders sports (Can't Wait To See You, geddit?) goes directly to the top of the wishlist. She substitutes "Melbourne" where "heaven" belongs (cheesy), but this band's music brings pure joy. Gray's keyboard substitute for bells is a true highlight that this venue should implement as their bar bell.

By way of encore, we score a tribute to Stevie Wright with Evie Part 1 (during which Carne noticeably reads lyrical prompts from his palm), Evie Part 2 (Smith minus hat nails it) and Evie Part 3.

We leave the venue treasuring live reminders of songs and bands that made us fall in love with music in the first place. And some of our first rockstar crushes don't scrub up too shabby after all these years, either.