The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Hell-Aint-A-Bad-Place-To-Be-Bon-Scott-Story-Live-17-Nov-2011

HELL AIN'T A BAD PLACE TO BE - THE STORY OF BON SCOTT
Regal Theatre, Subiaco
17 November 2011

 

 

By Shane Pinnegar

 

How do you (re)tell the story of Bon Scott without retreading old ground? It’s a tough nut to crack, but the Folsom Prison Productions crew, hot to trot after their 2010 Johnny and June Carter Cash tribute show, came pretty close to hitting the nail on the head with this theatre tribute.

 

The debate about whether an ornate 75 year old theatre is a better venue for this sort of show than a club, is one for a shed load of beers and a sunny afternoon – so for now all we care about is the story of Fremantle’s favourite adopted son (who else has a statue, mural AND their own hand crafted wrought iron door to Freo cemetery?)

 

Directed by Brian Nankervis of Rockwiz fame, the show stars Nick Barker – himself owner of a couple of Triple J hits back in the nineties, Doug Parkinson – who any Aussie music fan from the late 60’s through the 80’s will be familiar with, and a crack band featuring the rhythm section half of the hard rocking Electric Mary.

 

The master stroke here is having Parkinson narrate Bon’s path through childhood, teenage run-ins with the law, his early bands including The Valentines and Fraternity, and of course his eventual success with AC/DC.

 

Along the way there are many hilarious and poignant stories, told from the public record by Barker, and – more importantly – from personal experience by Parkinson, whose band In Focus toured with Bon many times.

 

Parkinson is a big man and has a big voice, which he uses to great effect on all too few tunes tonight – hearing his velvety beefsteak tones singing ‘Buttercup’ and The Valentines ‘Getting Better Now’ is a real treat.

 

The sparseness of the stage and lighting in this first half works against the storyline – some projected pictures of Bon might have engaged the audience better, but when the first half climaxes with the story of Bon’s triumphant AC/DC audition and Barker shows some hard rock cred with a rousing ‘Highway To Hell’, the half-time buzz was excited…


The second half kicks off with rarity ‘Fling Thing’, followed by a cavalcade of Accadacca classics delivered from the band, who never hold back for a moment – drummer Venom especially is a powerhouse, as metronomically rock solid as the great Phil Rudd ever was.

 

Ace card Parkinson is especially touching, displaying genuine affection for his old mate Bon - a wistful melancholy in his voice as he recounts some of these old stories, and great delight in sharing tales of the man’s bravado and legendary decadence.

 

Parkinson reckons the truth to the enigmatic Bon lay between the lines when he wasn’t being dirty or full of bravado – songs like the reflective and weary ‘Ride On’. My truth for the show lies in this quote, delivered by Barker… “Bon Scott could say more about drinking, fighting and fucking in three verses than most so-called writers in an entire novel”

 

More than worthy, the legend of Bon Scott will always live on.