Bennelong Point, Sydney. 1975

I was with my family, on one of those school holiday trips we used to do when I was young. We’d just been to King’s Cross. Thirteen-year-old Catholic schoolboy me found its carnality confronting; a particularly strong memory is a photograph, captioned “Princess Bareskin”, of a nude woman, full-frontal, which I stumbled upon in a shop window at the end of an arcade when I’d briefly wandered off by myself. Odd what one remembers.

My family and I were now standing in front of the Sydney Opera House. It was a melancholy grey day, the sky was forbidding, and a strong wind whipped white caps onto the small waves rippling the surface of the harbour.  The day reflected my mood, as I was still brooding over the excessiveness of the Cross.

My attention turned to a framed square board in front of the iconic building. Behind glass, in white lettering against a black background were the words: TONIGHT. ROCK CONCERT. SPLIT ENZ. 8 PM. The image of this sign, backed by the building and the harbour, has stuck in my mind ever since.

I knew who Split Enz were – their heavy theatrical make-up, colourful outfits, and general flamboyance and eccentricity had already made an impression upon me. I was intrigued that, being a rock band, they were performing at the Opera House, but I suppose, in retrospect, that their extravagant theatricality was a highly fitting match for the venue.

As to the song to go with this time and place, I confess I’m a little stumped here, as various early Spilt Enz tunes are going through my head as I write this – but quite possibly the very quirky, British sounding, Bowie-esque Maybe, a very early single written by Tim Finn and Phil Judd, which also appears on their debut album, Mental Notes, is as good a fit as anything could be: Maybe she’ll come along / Sweep me off my feet … Maybe we’ll get it on – ooh la la!

For those who came to know Split Enz years later, during their commercial phase, Maybe will doubtless come across as a real oddity – but the band were prog rock before they were pop rock, and, to my way of thinking, considerably more interesting in their earlier period.

Kevin Densley’s poetry has appeared in Australian, English and American journals. Densley’s latest poetry collection, his third, Orpheus in the Undershirt, was published by Ginninderra Press in early 2018. He is also the co-author of many plays with Steve Taylor, including Last Chance Gas, published by Currency Press