She saved up all her pay every week for what seemed like her whole lifetime, and maybe it was. A thirty five dollar ticket takes some saving, when you work two and a half hours a week and you get paid three dollars an hour. But it was the Oils at Kooyong, and she was allowed to go. Without parents.
She cajoled three friends into loving Midnight Oil too, and so her Mum got them tickets from Bass on her Bankcard, and they were going. Actually going.
It was early Summer, and a rare Melbourne night of moist warm air. The breeze tickled her skin, smelling faintly of Reef Oil and Australis perfume.
She wasn’t allowed to catch the train by herself, so her Dad drove them all the way across that precarious Westgate, and as close to the stadium as he could get. Traffic was bumper to bumper for what seemed like hours; cars and cars and cars of parents emptied out their kids and scuttled over the tram tracks, taking U-turns back to suburbia until it was time for pick-up. Landmarks were checked and checked again so that everyone was clear on where to meet up in case they were cleaved. If mobile phones existed in that then, they would have only been in ‘A View to a Kill’.
Finally she was released into the twilight and into the other-world that is the show.
She was proudly wearing the t-shirt that came free in the Armistice Day EP, as it marked her as true. It didn’t matter that it was her Dad’s record (and, by rights, his t-shirt), or that the album was before her time, she relished the looks from other knowing ones as they clocked the shirt. No brand new, still smelling of paint, “Species Deceases” shirt for her.
From Rob Hirst’s first drum beats, to the final scream of ‘Hercules’ she was all theirs. Screaming at the first bars of each song as she recognised the track. Heart thumping, as Peter clutched the mic and bent his half-mad, preying mantis body into contorted, spastic flailings. Not singing: yelling, every line to every song. Together. Sweat coursing from all their bodies, jumping and jerking individuals were lost as they became one crazed organism.
Together like this they knew they could do anything. Be anything.
Peter cried, from his soles and soul; “Better to die on your feet than to live on your knees” and it was true and he was right and they shouted it to the world. They knew they would never change and that they would change the world. That they would never be afraid to “take the hardest line”.
When the music was over, they stood around for a moment, blinking, separating, and becoming individuals again. Heads down and slightly blush as the sweat on their t-shirts dried to salty lines, and she wondered if she would ever feel such passion and power again.
She spotted her Dad and they slammed the doors.
“How was it?”
Too personal to share. Too big to describe. So she boxed it away, with all of the other memories she hoarded and lorded over, keeping them just for herself. Keeping them for good.
Still now, sometimes, late at night, she sings the words of anthems gone by, takes out one of the boxes of her mind, and shivers, shivers at the strange power of youth.
What was your first concert?