David Oke
Festival Hall Melbourne, January 2004

Everyone has a Festival Hall story. The old barn of a place on Dudley Street, West Melbourne was THE venue back in the day. Once upon a time the name bands would play either Festival Hall or the Myer Music Bowl. I recently heard a poignant quote – ‘Festival Hall these days – you’re either on the way up or on the way down’. However, to me, it is still hallowed ground. The Beatles played there (before my time!).  Anyone and everyone has performed there. My first ‘real’ concert was Billy Joel in the late 70s. I saw Elton John there in the early 80s and I saw a re-formed Cold Chisel play there as part of their Ringside tour in 2004.

I regret that I never saw Cold Chisel in their heyday of the late 1970s/early 1980s. The alcohol fuelled antics of Jimmy Barnes and brilliant guitar playing of Ian Moss provided legendary pub shows .

In my late teens I got a Clarion tape player for my car and played the East album endlessly at loud volume. When Chisel got back together to tour the old boxing stadiums, hence the Ringside tour title, I jumped at the offer to finally see them play.

As well as the gems that appear on East, I don’t mind Saturday Night from the Twentieth Century album. I love the ambient Sydney street noise at the start of the song and always look forward to the sound of the frustrated Pizza Shop guy who, after the ninth repetition of Saturday Night yells at a customer “Well, if you don’t like it what are you doing standing there for twenty minutes for?” (Check the video clip, about 46 seconds in.)

The Ringside performance was great. The stage was in the centre of the hall. Chisel played all the favorites as well as some lesser-known tunes. A great singalong. Their act was tight and, as expected, was not wild like the days of their youth.

Come time for Saturday Night I couldn’t help myself. I hesitated, and then thought, Nah, here goes. Chisel got in the groove and just after the ninth repetition of ‘Saturday Night’ I yelled out the famous line: “Well if you don’t like it what are you doing standing there for twenty minutes for?”

You should have seen the stares I got. “What, didn’t you know that it’s part of the song?” I wanted to say. Perhaps it wasn’t the done thing to do when amongst a more ‘senior’ audience. Luckily I wasn’t shown the door. I might have been red-faced but I had a grin from ear to ear.

Rather more recently I dropped into Festival Hall for about thirty minutes or so. My son, Dan, and his band Jarrow, had scored the support band gig for Liverpool indi rock band The Wombats.  You wouldn’t believe my swelled pride – Dan is playing Festival Hall – FESTIVAL HALL! I helped him with the load-in and then hung around for the sound check. The huge PA and brilliant light show was great. For that check Jarrow played a couple of songs.

While standing there in that almost empty cavern I could not stop thinking of the rich history of the venue and even had a smile at the memory of my antics at the Cold Chisel concert.

In telling others about Dan’s Festival Hall gig I started to glean lots of information from friends and work colleagues in relation to their memories and experiences of that place. I set myself a literary goal. It’s a bit like an A to Z acrostic poem:

Hugh saw AC/DC., supporting Skyhooks
Molly saw the Beatles
Gill saw Cliff Richard, supported by Johnny O’Keefe
Graham saw the Doobie Brothers
Heather saw Elton John
Des saw Frank Sinatra
Valerie’s daughter saw Green Day
Patrick saw Procul Harum
Twilight saw Iron Maiden
Katie saw Jarrow and her partner’s dad saw Johnny Cash
Laura and Ellie saw The Killers
Leo saw Little River Band
Dave saw Moving Pictures
Adrian saw Nick Barker and the Reptiles
Chris saw Oasis
Josh’s dad saw the Police
Kevin saw Queen
Don saw Ray Charles
Kev saw Slade
Bob saw Tame Impala
Charlotte saw UB 40
Lee saw Gene Vincent
Ellen saw The Wombats
Steve saw Uncanny X Men
Colin saw Neil Young
Ian saw  ZZ Top



David is a Melbourne musician, music teacher and primary school teacher. His debut Stereo Story was about playing Great Balls of Fire at Sun Studio in Memphis. He has assisted in the organisation, and leading of gospel music workshops and Sunday gospel celebrations at the Anglesea Music Festivals, and is a member of The Seddon Jammers. His son Dan is the creative force of the band Jarrow.

By |2017-07-14T13:11:11+00:00June 29th, 2017|Rock|15 Comments


  1. Chris Rees June 29, 2017 at 8:37 pm - Reply

    Thanks David, I know just what you mean about this song. “Well, if you don’t like it what are you doing standing there for twenty minutes WATCHING IT for?” I can imagine myself yelling that too, after 4 or 5 beers.

    I have only been to Festival Hall once, saw the PiXies a couple of years ago. I was aware of a general deep historical grime but – the Beatles, wow. And I think on here somewhere there’s a story about seeing Chuck Berry there.

    • Stereo Stories Admin June 29, 2017 at 8:54 pm - Reply

      Here’s the Chuck Berry/Festival Hall story:
      I saw Steeleye Span, Supertramp, Focus/Sebastian Hardie, James Taylor/Goanna, Elton John, Dire Straits at Festival Hall. Maybe one day I’ll see David’s son’s band Jarrow there.

  2. David Oke June 29, 2017 at 9:32 pm - Reply

    Chris, when I was putting together my ‘Acrostic’ list of artists I did use some Stereo Stories as a reference. Even since I wrote my yarn I have spoken with others who have a memory of Festival Hall. One person played drums in a band during a 3XY Rocktober concert and, allegedly, got very very friendly with a famous female lead singer! In my music classes I have been using a film clip of the Beatles performing Twist and Shout at Festival Hall in 1964. Perhaps some of my junior school students are watching their grandmothers screaming in the audience. As I have, ask around, as many have a story and memory of that venue.

  3. Chris Phillips June 29, 2017 at 10:59 pm - Reply

    Oh wow – I know that line well too David, as a long way-back Chisel fan who also wished that I’d got to see them live before it was all over. Me & my mates would always yell it out when we listened to Twentieth Century on record at each others houses. My favourite album was Circus Animals or the double live album Swingshift & my Festival Hall gig was Jimmy Barnes in one of his early solo tours around 1984/1985 on a hot Summer’s eve (I will always remember Festival Hall as a sweatbox!) My 14 year old daughter really loves The Wombats (I don’t mind them myself actually). As if that wasn’t enough to have in common with a stranger, but here, at the wondrous house of Vin, our words & music worlds collide as fellow authors of a Stereo Story – HA! (‘Into The Mystic’) Have you read Stephen Andrew’s story about Hound Dog? That’s a good evocative Chisel one too. Thanks for a great read.

  4. Hugh Jones June 30, 2017 at 9:45 am - Reply

    Put me down for Split Enz there in 1984. It was supposed to be their final concert, but wasn’t obviously.

    • David Oke July 30, 2017 at 3:51 pm - Reply

      That’s right Hugh. I last saw them playing at the Sound Relief concert at the MCG in 2009.

  5. David Oke June 30, 2017 at 10:22 pm - Reply

    Chris, thanks for your kind words. Yes I have read Stephen’s ‘Hound Dog’ story. I wonder how many times he heard Circus Animals on that journey? I last heard Jimmy at the Palais in Melbourne when he was touring the Rhythm And The Blues album back in about 2009. I actually think Ian Moss is under-rated as a singer. I love his singing of Janelle on the Twentieth Century album and you can’t go past Bow River. If you have not done so, have a listen to his Six Strings album where he performs his stuff with voice and his acoustic guitar.

  6. JD July 6, 2017 at 9:24 am - Reply

    That one unofficial line of this song captured the mood of the band and of the time. As did the song in its totality. Magic stuff David.

  7. David Oke July 6, 2017 at 12:09 pm - Reply

    Thanks JD. I agree. Knowing some history of Cold Chisel there would have been some undercurrents in the band at that time that would have incited yelling. I know that it is Ian Moss on lead vocal. Having read Jim’s ‘Working Class Boy’ the outburst towards the customer and Jimmy’s screaming harmony reflect his early years where verbal abuse was an everyday occurrence in his family.

  8. Sue O'Brien July 15, 2017 at 1:43 pm - Reply

    Another great story Dave!
    I saw The Monkees (so much screaming we didn’t hear the band at all) and Creedence at Festival Hall.

    • David Oke July 15, 2017 at 6:41 pm - Reply

      Thanks very much Sue. In relation to your Festival Hall memories, at least you can say that you have seen, (but not necessarily heard), both of those famous bands – The Monkees and Creedence Clearwater Revival. Although not at Festival Hall I am glad that I have seen such famous acts such as Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen and Fleetwood Mac. I was never a huge Bob Dylan fan but I am glad that I went along with Dan to see him a few years ago when he last played in Melbourne.

  9. Smokie July 19, 2017 at 10:48 am - Reply

    Thanks for this, David.
    As a rusted-on Cold Chisel fan I especially enjoyed it.
    When it comes to Chisel albums, I reckon Twentieth Century is slightly under-rated. Some great tracks on it.
    Re Festival Hall – I have seen so many bands there over the years I would not now where to start. But I am happy to report that I saw Cold Chisel in their heyday – at Festival Hall. Sunday June 6, 1982.

  10. David Oke July 19, 2017 at 4:16 pm - Reply

    Thanks right back to you Smokie. I am jealous as I wish that I had seen Cold Chisel in 1982 at Festival Hall. I agree that there are some great tracks on 20th Century, however, I must admit that one of my favourite Chisel albums from more recent times is the Standing On The Outside tribute album from 2007. On that one Thirsty Merc do a ripper cover of My Baby. Rai does a fantastic solo in funky Wurlitzer electric piano style.

    • Stereo Stories Admin July 19, 2017 at 5:26 pm - Reply

      David, you’re welcome to have a crack at the funky Wurlitzer in our loungeroom before we toss it out.

      • David Oke July 19, 2017 at 5:57 pm - Reply

        That’s a very kind offer, but is your Wurlitzer ‘funky’ or ‘clunky’?
        Does it have the tone of Supertramp or Barry Morgan? Is it working at all? I will have to get back to you about that one!

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