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Rodriguez: Just like an ordinary legend

rod on stage2

Just about all the 2400 seats at Hamer Hall in the Victorian Arts Centre were full last night for the first night of a two-night stand by iconic minstrel Sixto Rodriguez, profiled in the 2012 Academy-award winning cult movie Searching for Sugarman but better known among oldies for his albums Cold Fact (1970) and Coming From Reality (1971).

Rodriguez, 71 this year, came on stage soon after 10pm following an hour’s warm-up by supergroup The Break – drummer Rob Hirst (of Midnight Oil) bassist Brian Ritchie (of Violent Femmes) Jim Moginie on guitar/theremin/keyboard and Martin Rotsey on guitar (two more former Oils) with Jack Howard (Hunters & Collectors) on trumpet and flugelhorn (see their website).

They’re a fully-surf music retro group and the highlight for me was cottoning on to Bombora by The Atlantics, the 1963 surf classic. They played in front of a huge screen on which was projected a series of surf movies and the occasional parkour (free running) adventure.

The crowd took an interval of 20 minutes before starting a slow handclap for the guest of honour, possibly the only country in the world where this might be considered a compliment.

And then he was there … I’ve finally scratched off a big Bucket List item tonight. I’ve met Mother Teresa, Noel Paul Stookey (Peter Paul & Mary) and David Attenborough and been to Burt Bacharach and James Taylor concerts … all Bucket List biggies. But I never dreamt I’d make a Rodriguez gig. Halfway through his set he quipped: “Call me Rodriguez, and I just wanna be treated like an ordinary legend.”

He began by donning a red, black and white cap and singing the Oil’s anthem Redneck Wonderland.

Four songs in (after Crucify your Mind) he covered the Cole Porter standard Just One of Those Things, previously covered by Frank Sinatra.

Immediately after Frank, the crowd was clapping and singing along to I Wonder.

Rodriguez standards including Establishment Blues and Sugar Man held the set together but more classic covers included Johnny Cash’s Sea of Heartbreak, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley’s Blue Suede Shoes and Bob Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone, which he served up as his first encore after a 5-minute standing ovation enticed him back on stage. The last song of the evening, nearing midnight, was Can’t Get Away, and then he did.

Ever seen a mosh pit full of 60-year-olds?

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