Hugh Jones
Melbourne Cricket Ground, September 30, 2017

Everybody seemed to benefit from Jack Riewoldt’s impromptu duet with The Killers after this year’s AFL Grand Final.

Big Jack, caught up in the excitement of celebrating Richmond’s premiership, revealed a hitherto unseen skill while The Killers forever endeared themselves to a large proportion of the Australian football fan base, particularly Richmond supporters, the numbers of which are multiplying like field mice in a Wimmera grain silo.

The AFL would have been delighted with the media coverage that Jack’s cameo received across the globe.

Williamstown sports writer Anthony Colangelo was there and dutifully reported the episode for his employer, The Age. In doing so, he ‘fessed up to being a shameless fan. The song Jack sang, Mr Brightside, was – according to Colangelo – “one of the most seminal pieces of music of this century”. Yup, that’s what he wrote.

The band sings the song at every concert it plays, reported Colangelo. So they probably enjoyed the change-up provided by sweaty Jack. Indeed, Colangelo described this version as “one of the most rousing renditions of Mr Brightside ever”.

Having a “seminal piece of music” in your repertoire must, at times, weary hard-working concert bands. Cold Chisel must perform Khe Sanh every time, Springsteen can’t leave before playing Born To Run and John Farnham only gets on stage these days to sing You’re the Voice.

So what would one consider to be the “seminal” pieces of music from The Beatles? Which songs would they just have to include? If, by some miracle, they staged a 21st century concert tour, what would their setlist look like? Maybe this …

House lights go down on an empty stage; crowd shrieks; the instant the noise drops, the stadium (because it would be a stadium) is filled with a huge F chord, with a G on top from George Harrison’s 12-string Rickenbacker … the unmistakeable opening to A Hard Day’s Night.

With the crowd in instant frenzy, they’d roll straight into I Saw Her Standing There, then Back in the USSR. All three tunes stretched from their original length to about eight minutes each so it would be almost half an hour in before John would pause to say “hello, nice to be here. Do you remember this one?” and flip straight into She Loves You.

 Happily the band would rattle through some of their earliest love songs: I Wanna Be Your Man (with Ringo on vocals), Can’t Buy Me Love, Please Mr Postman and You’re Gonna Lose That Girl. By the time they reached All My Lovin’, the stadium would be alight with swaying mobile phones.

At which point, Paul would say something clever like “I didn’t realise we had so many fans in Australia”.

With the spotlight on him alone, he would move to the grand piano and jauntily play Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da. With just a momentary pause he’d tap out the start of Yesterday, then stay at the ivories for Eleanor Rigby and Norwegian Wood. For the first time, the audience would be aware of backing singers so tight they’re ready to snap.

To quell the hysterics, John would say something like “we’re from Liverpool you know, although none of us live there now: we’re too rich. But here’s a few little songs Paul and I wrote when we did live there”, and they’d knock out Strawberry Fields, Penny Lane and Magical Mystery Tour.

All great bands cover the work of others, knowing their own material won’t be outshone; Springsteen steals a different song almost every concert. So about here, The Beatles stun their audience with a number nobody would have expected, Elvis’ Jailhouse Rock.

With the beat back up-tempo, they follow on with Get Back, and then play sensational, big band, horn-filled, romper-stompering versions of Helter Skelter and Roll Over Beethoven. They wave, Ringo throws his drum sticks, stadium goes black. Crowd goes nuts.

After what seems an age but is probably just five minutes, the lights come up on a gaily dressed marching band returning to the stage to hurdy-gurdy music, followed by The Beatles in Sgt Pepper tunics. They swing into Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, With a Little Help From My Friends and Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.

 John thanks the crowd: “You’ve been the best we’ve had this tour. Unfortunately, we have to finish now, it’s in the contract. We’ll see you next time.” Crowd threatens to tear down the stands; band swings into Twist and Shout. It’s epic; lasts for about 12 minutes, at which point the band teeter off stage, never to return.

Now that’s seminal music.

Hugh Jones is an experienced media manager and journalist. He worked for News Limited in Australia for more than 20 years in a wide variety of editorial roles, including as a newspaper editor. He has also worked in the United Kingdom, both in London and the provinces. He now works in public relations and strategic communications, advising a wide range of organisations on their communication needs. Hugh is president of the Williamstown Literary Festival, a long-time supporter of Stereo Stories.