Concert venues in Melbourne 2007, 2009, 2013
It’s late one night in February 2007 and I’m waiting on a draughty corner in West Melbourne anxiously studying a sea of shining faces coming towards me, looking for one in particular.
A glance around the shadows reveals I’m not the only parent waiting to collect a teenager after this concert at the historic but tired mausoleum that is Festival Hall. My oldest daughter has been to her first real rock concert and I’m collecting her at an agreed point, respectfully three or four blocks away.
The night has been important for all of us, from the time several months earlier when Laura announced simply, “Ellie and I have bought tickets to a concert.”
While millions have been to concerts at Festival Hall and millions have arrived home safely and happily we parents know there’s potential for danger in the dark depths of Dudley St.
“Er, OK … who are you seeing?” her mother and I enquire.
“The Killers,” Laura replies, enraptured.
We’d grown to know and like The Killers around our place in recent months, although I struggled to balance the soaring vocals, clean sounds and thoughtful lyrics with the band’s blunt, evil name.
The Killers debut album Hot Fuss appealed to us all: Judith and myself, Laura and her two younger sisters. The girls’ favoured track is Mr Brightside but I get more from the nuanced All These Things That I’ve Done, possibly because I’m the only male in the family, and All These Things seems to be about a boy growing up, seeking acknowledgement that he’s matured. That, and its great motoring singalong: I got soul, but I’m not a soldier …
Laura and Ellie emerge from the avalanche of bodies streaming down Spencer Street. They glow with self-satisfaction and the euphoria of having reached one of life’s key milestones. Unphased by meeting a daggy dad they explode with delight about their night: their first rock concert had delivered all they had hoped.
From this night The Killers, all the way from Las Vegas, were part of the family, sort of distant cousins who led our team sing-alongs while we washed the dishes, made ready for a big night out or drove home from a significant hockey victory.
It’s early 2009 and I’m waiting again. This time at home because we were on drop off, not pick-up.
Some months earlier my second daughter had announced she was off to her first concert and had bought tickets to Rod Laver Arena (goodness knows where she got the money; Judith, I suspect). “Sure. Who are you seeing?” we asked.
“The Killers,” Katie said, seemingly dumbfounded we’d needed to ask. She and a friend had bought the cheapest tickets in the backest of back rows.
I hadn’t really taken to the band’s second album Sam’s Town and had declared the follow-up Day & Age a bit too disco for my liking, so while Katie was drowning in songs like Human, I was still burbling I got soul, but I’m not a soldier…
Shortly before midnight, our Katie is delivered home with a shine in her eyes, a ringing in her ears, a head full of memories and a poster that would hang lovingly above her bed until it perished off the wall.
The Las Vegas branch of the family had left my second girl with a warm and fuzzy glow.
It’s late January 2013 and, this time on the streets of Flemington keenly watching people flood out of the racecourse: some large, hairy, tattooed and inebriated loudly trooping towards the waiting taxis and trams, others small and scantily clad, fending off unwanted attention.
My youngest daughter, 16-year-old Eliza falls into the latter category and I’m starting to doubt the wisdom of letting her attend The Big Day Out.
She and her friend Georgia had assured us they could deal with the grown-up crowds when we discussed the matter some months earlier.
“You have to let us go Dad, The Killers are the headline,” she argued convincingly.
Well, if you can’t trust your daughter with The Killers …
We found each other in the dark along Epsom Road and like her sisters before her Eliza had fallen in love: “The Killers were on last Dad and I could sing every word of every song!”
“Did they sing All These Things?” I ask, trying to capture her excitement.
“Yes, Dad. They sang them all!”
Our girls now go to concerts and get home afterwards without needing their mum or dad to collect them. Judith and I hear about them long after the event. It’s probably better that way.
And when I consider all these things that I have done, helping our girls discover The Killers is probably one of the better things.
© Hugh Jones.Hugh is a Melbourne-based journalist and media manager.