The silver-haired gentleman in the skull motif shirt may have had an iPad to remember the set list, but the singing was strong and the words tumbled out like freshly minted coins. The band were great—tight and energetic—and their fearless leader even managed a few quirky dance steps during an uptempo number.

At a time when musical icons seem to be shuffling towards the afterlife with somber regularity, seeing and hearing Mike Rudd celebrate a fifty year career milestone was a welcome tonic. You could even say it was inspiring. Do not go gently into that good night, rock-the-hell-out!

In fact the energy on stage seemed to contrast unfavourably with the docile, elderly audience filling the Thornbury Theatre and Ballroom last Saturday night. Sitting around circular tables with a glass of Chardonnay or a boutique beer, we looked and behaved as if uncertain whether being out so late was really such a good idea. Thank heavens for a few sprightly fifty-somethings who boogoolooed over in the corner. Several times I wanted to get closer to the stage, to let the energy infiltrate my middle-aged soul, but only managed some rhythmic head-nodding and swaying in my seat. Rudd and Co. deserved more as they raced through an amazing career in a hundred or so minutes.


Mike Rudd’s legendary dry humour was in evidence as he introduced the set. “I’ve managed,” he observed, “To create a fifty year music career with just one hit.” More on that hit later, because for openers Spectrum—providing the multi-hued cord running through the concert—played the B-side of their 1971 hit single, “Launching Place, Part II”. Having always loved this song, I was instantly in heaven… or perhaps on a sun-scorched hill gazing at the tangled pile of bodies attending one of Australia’s earliest outdoor festivals.

In addition to the classic “I’ll be gone” single, in 1971 Spectrum produced not only their debut album (Spectrum Part One), but a second double-LP of original material, Milesago. Talk about prolific. Both albums are full of quirky songs, often arranged as free-wheeling progressive excursions. Using more contemporary categories, you could call it “Stoner Prog”. “Play a song that I know” is a wry comment on audience confusion, while “Make your stash” (written by Daddy Cool frontman Ross Wilson) is a bare-faced steal from “Jupiter: The bringer of jollity” by Gustav Holst (and an amusing comment on the challenges facing the recreational drug user).


Launching Place Part II     [Spectrum]

Play a Song That I Know     [S] Milesago 1971

Make Your Stash     [S] Spectrum Part One 1971

We Are Indelible     [Indelible Murtceps] Warts Up Your Nose 1973  

But That’s Alright     [S] Milesago 1971

Red Hot Momma     [Ariel] Rock and Roll Scars 1975

Indelible Shuffle     [IM] Testimonial 1973

Then we charged into the infectious boogie of “We are indelible”. The Indelible Murtceps were Rudd’s attempt to engage a wider audience with more focussed songs. The live album Terminal Buzz opens with this stomper, setting the tone for that particular classic 70s live double.

After Spectrum/Murtceps folded, there was but the briefest hiatus before Ariel arrived. You can read about it here. 

For this particular concert, Mike Rudd was joined by singer/songwriter Glynn Mason who was a key part of one of Ariel’s manifestations. Hearing the two songs where he sang lead really marked the shift towards a more pop-orientated sound. 


Keep on Dancing     [Ariel] Rock and Roll Scars 1975

Some Good Advice     [IM] 1973 Warts Up Your Nose

I’ll Not Fade Away     [Ariel/Glynn Mason singing] Goodnight Fiona 1976

It’s Only Love     [Ariel/Glynn] single/Aloha 1977

Disco Dilemma     [A] Aloha 1977

Jamaican Farewell     [A] A Strange Fantastic Dream 1973

I’ll Be Gone     [S] Single, 1971; Aloha 1977

Esmeralda (Encore)     [IM] Warts Up Your Nose 1973

Then we raced for home, with the tongue-in-cheek “Disco dilemma” and the catchy (but dark) “Jamaican farewell” leading into a full-bodied audience sing-along for the anthem “I’ll be gone”.

Choosing the salacious “Esmeralda” as the encore seemed a slightly cheeky move on Mike’s part, yet the audience responded enthusiastically to its bouncy jive and were smiling broadly as they carefully navigated the handsome staircase leading back down into the Thornbury night. No bones were broken or hips displaced; a good time was had by all.

Australian music legend Mike Rudd spoke to Vinyl Connection about his ‘Fifty Not Out’ and also annotated the set list with extra info. Read the interview here.



  1. […] Vinyl Connection’s review of the concert (and trawl through the Rudd catalogue) is here. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m ashamed to say not a name/names I know at all. The LP covers make them look a bit Moody Blues.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Imagine the Moodies steeped in bongwater and marinated in Fosters then served magic mushrooms by an urban campfire under the Southern Cross.

      Interestingly, the after gig CD purchase I mentioned was a kind of revisiting of earlier material (to some extent) recorded at Abbey Road.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It must be strange for an artist looking out and seeing that change in the audience… not just that their fans are getting older, but that they haven’t really engaged with a younger audience. Do you think having that big hit has hindered them / him? Rather than being rediscovered, they’re looked at more as a one hit wonder?

    Anyhoo, I do think I’d quite enjoy their music. While reading both these pieces I was thinking that there was something familiar, but couldn’t think why, so decided I hadn’t heard of them. Then I had a wee skim over that other piece from 2014 and it jogged the memory. I mind looking for both Spectrum and Ariel on Spotify and came up with nowt. I’ll be looking for CDs, then.

    And how could I forget that Ariel album cover! Pleased to see that the Spectrum covers are great too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your reflections (and engagement) J. In some ways, I think history is a reductionist process. The territory of the past seems to flatten out over time, leaving just a few recognisable landmarks (or Gold FM hits). Spectrum (and probably Ariel too) were, other than “I’ll be gone”, on the edges of popularity and the mainstream. I think Mike was delighted to find that there were so many (admittedly older) people who remembered and made the effort.
      Can I share back with you that MR did go back and read the Ariel article you refer to and emailed some nice comments, so that was a bonus!

      Liked by 1 person

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