When iconic Aussie music legend Ted Mulry died in 2001, it seemed there was little hope for his legion of fans to ever again hear TMG perform their classic songs live in concert.
Fast forward to 2016 and the original Gang, comprising drummer Herm Kovac and guitarists Les hall and Gary Dixon, has recruited AC/DC guitarist Mark Evans along with Ted’s brother Steve, on vocals, to pay tribute to the late frontman with a national tour aptly entitled ‘This One’s For Ted’.
The inclusion of Evans signifies yet another aspect of how the Gang pays homage to Mulry, given his loveable yet mischievous persona; characteristics very similar to AC/DC’s own loveable rogue Bon Scott.
While the band will admit there was some initial hesitation at the idea of reforming, mostly due to concerns of doing justice to the memory of Ted, a string of sold-out performances, including Belmont 16s, is evidence the reformation was the right way to go.
In fact, on the eve of the show there were more than 100 fans still on a wait list for tickets, a solid indication of the impact TMG had on a generation of Australians. Although it is not surprising the band would command this kind of audience given connotations of the era they represent.
If you think back to TMG’s catchy brand of pop/rock, you are transported to a significant time in our history. It was a time when the conservative rule of the pre-1960s Australia was being challenged by a large army of teenagers whose chosen form of expression was music. It was a time when our pubs and clubs were heaving with a generation of youth eager to drink, dance and revel in a freedom previously unknown to mainstream Australia.
During this era TMG managed to capture both the innocence of an emerging youth and a cheeky naughtiness that was, at the time, shocking to the establishment but represented a call to arms for a generation who loved nothing more than to break down the traditional barriers and push boundaries, especially when it came to sex drugs and rock n’ roll.
The reformation of TMG in 2016 has provided a generation of fans the opportunity to relive a little of their misspent youth, even if it is just for one night. And ticket sales are evidence that in our current state of affairs, a short trip back in time is apparently long overdue.
The show began when renowned long-time roadie and author of the book It’s A Roadie’s Job, Ron Clayton, took to the microphone to introduce the band, reminding everyone that TMG was the only Aussie band ever to knock the ABBA juggernaut from the top of the charts with the now classic Jump In My Car – first broken on the airwaves by Newcastle’s own 2NX!
There were echoes of Countdown as many in the crowd rushed to the front of the stage, ready to revisit the 70’s, just for tonight!
The show opened with the top 10 smash My Little Girl before traversing through a swag of the band’s hits and favourites. Naturally and its b-side Sha La La La Lee came early in the set as did the album title track Disturbing The Peace. It was clear that, like a time capsule stored in each body, the audience remembered the words and the good times that accompanied each song’s rise in the charts. The Status Quo like boogie/blues of the twin guitars pumped out more of the hits with ‘Heart Of Stone’, ‘Lazy Eyes’ and ‘Jamaica Rum’ all delivered with the authentic TMG sound.
Then, half way through the show, the band left the stage, Clayton brought a stool on stage, a big screen came down showing various images of Ted while Gary Dixon, armed with just his acoustic guitar, delivered superb versions of Ted’s solo hits Julia and Falling In Love Again. It served to remind us just what a great songwriter Mulry was.
A rollicking version of Steppin’ Out launched the second half of the show before the cracker single Crazy sent everyone over the top. As a nod to both Quo and bass player Mark Evans, the band hit top gear with Rockin’ All Over The World and the Acca Dacca anthem Long Way To The Top.
Pandemonium gleefully erupted as Darktown Strutters Ball blasted from the PA. It was great but, as the band left the stage, we all knew there was more to come. And they didn’t let us down. Taking to the stage again, this time with local legend, Heroes, Rabbit and later TMG member Mark Tinson, they launched into a blistering version of the Stones’ ‘Brown Sugar’ before raising the roof for their final song and striking the opening chords of Jump In My Car.
It wasn’t the heady and carnal days of the legendary ‘Around Australia In 80 Days Tour’ where TMG and superstars Sherbet came to symbolise the hysteria, hedonism and cultural significance of homegrown rock but, for us, it was a wonderful return to its glory days. The light show was spectacular, with the signature kick-drum sound of mixer Mal McEwan hitting you in the chest and giving the music the drive it deserved.
TMG live in 2016 were tight and fun. The songs were delivered faithfully – so much so that, if you shut your eyes, you would swear it was Ted singing and that it was 1975. As the audience strolled out, there were smiles, lines at the merch desk and stories of the simple delight of reliving a time when great pop songs with a rock edge, performed by Countdown heroes, was the pinnacle of a great time for a generation of teenagers. Tonight was a welcome time machine. If TMG come back to our region soon, there will no doubt be a huge number of Novocastrians ready and willing to take the journey and ‘jump in my car’ with TMG once again.