Words by Natalie Blacklock
In 2020, seminal 1980’s rockers Sunnyboys are celebrating 40 years since their inception (though a mere 12 years of actual existence) via releasing ‘SUNNYBOYS 40’ late last year, bringing together the first ever re-release of the band’s much loved debut 7” – featuring the original version of the all-time classic Alone With You – alongside four new recordings pulled from the archives of the band’s songwriter Jeremy Oxley. In a tour that even the band weren’t sure they would deliver, Sunnyboys are winding up the final run of dates in Queensland this weekend thanks to Feel Presents.
The venue, Miami Marketta, is fast becoming the Gold Coast’s premier gig venue for all national and international touring acts – and the attraction here is obvious. Part live music venue part Street Food Mecca – Miami Marketta offers a laneway dining experience taking visitors to Thailand, Spain or France and everywhere in between, plus a dedicated live music set-up, catering for night shows as well as late afternoon shows like this one.
Across this tour, Sunnyboys have chosen only one support act per show – playing with the legendary Painters & Dockers through the first half of the tour, and bringing up the rear with Melbourne alternative rockers, Rocket Science. Formed in 1998, Rocket Science gave us killer songs like Burn In Hell, One Robot and Being Followed they disappeared from the public eye for the most part in 2008. However, following the release of their 5th studio album ‘Snake’ in August last year, it’s clear that Rocket Science are back with the same untouchable coolness they had in spades all those years ago.
The crowd was sparsely spread across the Marketta as Rocket Science emerged. Opening with Six Foot 4, the 4-piece certainly made an impact straight away. For the band’s second track, Chasing Rainbows, all eyes were on frontman Roman Tucker – he had the moves and was working his Theremin like there was no tomorrow. Quick to follow was the catchy title track of their 2019 record, ‘Snake’ and fellow album track Lipstick Red, which showcased Paul Maybury’s talent on Guitar as well as Drummer Kit Warhurst’s backing vocal prowess. The crowd were soon taken on a collective trip back to 2001’s ‘Contact High’ with the classic One Robot, where again Warhurst’s backing Vocals and equally skilful Drums were on show.
Cheers Pinger opened with an almost spoken word quality before the band unleashed another couple of classics in the form of the groovy Being Followed and the upbeat and guitar driven Pop Lover from 2004’s ‘Eternal Holiday’. Back For More was a welcome addition, getting the growing crowd dancing, offering the perfect transition into their final two tracks – the upbeat clap-a-long Modern Life and Burn In Hell, taken from the band’s 2010 release, “Welcome Aboard The 3C10”. Rocket Science may have been out of the game for a few years, but their live performance is just as polished and as engaging as ever. If you haven’t already, they’re definitely a band you need to make time to see!
As soon as Rocket Science departed the stage, the crowd moved forward and filled the barrier, ready and waiting for the headliner, Sunnyboys. If you’re an aficionado of Australian music, the story of the Sunnyboys won’t be unfamiliar. The band first formed in 1979, breaking up a mere 5 years later in 1984. Frontman Jeremy Oxley formed various incarnations of the band throughout the 1980s and into 1991, as the only original member. After coming back together in 2012 as part of the “Dig It Up” concert series, the original line-up of the band have since continued to tour and release music periodically.
The band emerged triumphantly from behind the huge Miami Marketta stage, to the sounds of The Beatles ‘Abbey Road’ classic Here Comes The Sun to rapturous applause as Guitarist Richard Burgman announced “Good evening and welcome to the Marketta. We’re here to play some tunes for you” before the band launched into their opening track Love To Rule. Frontman Jeremy Oxley cheekily told the audience “It’s not exactly dark outside so I think we’re gonna be seeing a lot of each other this evening” before leading the band through Tunnel of Love, Trouble In My Brain and My Only Friend taken from the Sunnyboys 1981 debut self-titled studio album. What You Need and Tomorrow Will Be Fine got the crowd groovin’ with the latter dedicated to many of the important women in the band’s touring party. The slick, catchy Can’t You Stop is a re-worked song from Frontman Jeremy Oxley’s post-Sunnyboys band, The Fishermen and features on the new ‘SUNNYBOYS 40’ release, and instantly draws Guitar riff parallels with Courtney Barnett’s Pedestrian At Best.
Revisiting their 1981 release, Sunnyboys drop 3 back-to-back tracks; Happy Man, It’s Not Me and Gone which showcases the skills of Alister Spence on Keyboard as the crowd clapped along to Burgman’s Guitar solo later in the piece. The Stooge saw Bassist Peter Oxley step up to the Vocal plate and Bil Bilson unleashed on the kit for an epic Drum solo. Show Me Some Discipline taken from 1984’s ‘Get Some Fun’ definitely brought back the fun, as To The Bone delivered an air of 50’s surfer rock. Let You Go delivered a primo duo Guitar solo from Frontman Jeremy Oxley and Guitarist Richard Burgman that I simply could not take my eyes away from. Burgman then told the crowd “The most important thing in life is that you need a friend” before they ripped into none other than You Need A Friend.
Closing the main set with I’m Shaking, Sunnyboys left everything they had on the stage, pushing themselves to the limits even coming out onto the front speaker stacks for a shred. The crowd knew there was still more to come but screamed and cheered for an encore none the less. Guitarist Richard Burgman told the crowd “We started 40 years ago so this year is our birthday” before the band launched into a cover of Birthday by The Beatles before stepping into 1984 ‘Get Some Fun’ record with Lovers (On Another Planet’s Hell) ending with the seminal crowd favourite, Alone With You – which tells the tale of pent up feelings of teenage lust and love in the most beautiful way possible. However, this just wasn’t enough, as Sunnyboys came back for just one more song. Jeremy Oxley was now reppin’ a pair of ‘Speed Dealer’ style sunglasses, owning the effervescent and charismatic Frontman tag with ease.
Closing with 1980 track The Seeker produced by Lobby Loyde, who was most famously known for his involvement with Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs. As the set finished, the space cleared out as punters moving towards the bars and food vans – all with smiles on their faces and a warm feeling of nostalgia filling their chest. This final show on the Sunnyboys 40 Tour was a special one and if you missed it, you missed out!
Do not be the one who misses Sunnyboys next time they are on a stage near you! For dates, locations, and ticket information on upcoming shows, click HERE.