Hanging Rock.

After music promoter, Michael Gudinski began to spend more time at his Mount Macedon holiday home near Hanging Rock, he began to think long and hard about hosting some big shows at the location. ”It’s one of the best-kept secrets in Australia,” he claims.

I’ve never been.

And now, after an entire year of planning, Canadian vocalist, songwriter, poet and novelist, Leonard Cohen will headline the very first high budget music performance at Hanging Rock on Saturday, November 20th. Lar-di-dar.

Tickets went on sale today and I was fortunate enough, through the writing of this blog, to be informed by one reader of the event– which has been very little publicised and despite my dedication to the man and his career had not been brought to my attention prior to last week.

Cohen is, of course, doing a number of high-scale shows during his Australian tour this coming November– all of which, however– are in fucking entertainment centres.

I deliberated for some time before opting to not purchase tickets to any of his Sydney shows as I simply cannot bare the thought of watching my most favorite and treasured artist from a distance through a shitty PA system in a big, bland venue surrounded by chip chowing underdressed fecks… The sound bouncing off the walls, his little head, off in the distance. It’s all about the sound… The Acer Arena really is a gawd awful venue in my opinion, and that train ride from Central to Olympic Park all but makes me weep with nostalgia for places that aren’t Australian. I get upset, you see. And I fail to see the point. I promised myself after seeing the Pixies play at The Hordern Pavillion earlier this year that I would never, ever again see a band I really liked in a venue I really don’t. Ever. Why bother?

Plus my father drove from Sydney to Perth once during the 70s to see David Bowie after returning home from living in Europe. He was in his 20s and hell bent also on not seeing his favorite artist play at the Sydney fucking Cricket Ground. He met my mum at a party the weekend before he left. She and a girlfriend followed him there. He met Bowie and they fell in love.

So there you have it. The power of an intimate venue. And a road trip.

It’s hard for Australians though– We’re a long way away. Artists seldom come here, if at all, and the likelihood of Leonard touring here again– now at the ripe old age of 74– is slim. So now is the time. Plus I’m writing this fucking blog, yeah? It doesn’t make a lot of sense that I would be living in Australia and not in a position to see him play. That would be awful. There’s an insensitivity to those larger scale venues also. Plus I like to see the artists mouth, watch their hands move on their instrument, observe their idiosyncracies, get to know them, you know?

I watch music like a musician, because I am one. I don’t care about his fame or his age or any of that nonsense. I just love him. I really do. He’s very dear to me. So once I learned he was touring Australia in November I assured myself that I would simply need to travel abroad to see him play in a more appropriate venue. Then, of course, I learned of this whole Hanging Rock development– the moment of which– my mind snapped straight in to action– How can I make this happen– How?

For starters, Hanging Rock is in the state of Victoria and I live in New South Wales. It’s a distance. Australia is a big country.

It’s some 713.33 kilometres from my place to Melbourne. A further 80km from Melbourne to Hanging Rock. No small sojourn. It takes a day to drive, and with petrol prices as they are, fuck that– So we’re flying. We, being my entire family. I pitched the idea to my dad last week, whom introduced me to Leonard Cohen and he was sold, right away. Then today, when tickets went on sale, he suggested I buy five and we all go, my mother, he and my two siblings. Make a trip of it. Stay somewhere nice, visit some of the local wineries and go see the God Father of Gloom perform in a wonderfully natural ampitheatre. Excellent. It’s also a volcano, Hanging Rock, enshroud with mysticism and legend. I’m very excited. Victorian acts Paul Kelly, Clare Bowditch and Dan Sultan will also be playing. It’s going to be lovely. Really.

I managed to secure excellent tickets. Close enough to see his fingers but not so close that you’re neck gets sore. Right in front of the sound desk too, which is my favorite. I have a wee habit of seducing sound engineers and finding myself back stage… It’s a natural progression– “Hello, what knobs are you turning, what buttons are you pressing?…”– I think they usually cave just to shut me up. Either way, I spent most of this morning phoning around, trying to secure accommodation in the area, to no avail. Most of the B&Bs in the area made mention of the concert on their voice mails and wished me luck in my pursuit of finding a place for the five of us with so much of the town already fully booked. Shit. Fuck. Shit.

I phoned friends as well. Anyone. Everyone. Help! I sent an S.O.S out to everyone on Facebook. My mum and dad put their thinking caps on. My sister was online also, furiously trying to find a place. My dad sent a text to my brother, who hilariously responded, “Who is Leonard Cohen?” Eventually, it came to me to phone the local information centre and see if I couldn’t talk to a real, live human about my predicament. Get him to like me, you know, help me out. Which is how I met Terry. He suggested I phone friends of his that run a B&B attached to their Llama Farm. Smashing.

So now we’re all booked in to see Leonard and to feed the Llama’s by a big volcano. Lovely.

”I’ve been trying for years to talk with the council about how to utilise this area,” Gudinski has said. ”The rock itself is a treasure. So we are going for more older-appealing heritage acts. Leonard is very keen. And if this works, we have an agreement from the Macedon Ranges Shire Council to do a series of shows.”

It’s Gudinski’s belief that the Cohen show will help attract interstate visitors and eventually bring recognition to Hanging Rock in the same way U2’s seminal Live at Red Rocks album did for Colorado. And I tend to agree.

Check out these nutters. It really is a beautiful landscape:

Cohen is said to have jumped at the gig, having heard of the site from Peter Weir’s eerie film Picnic At Hanging Rock. That’s the clip you saw earlier. And while capable of accommodating for some 20,000 people the event will in this instance be capped at about 12,000, which delights me no end. I like intimate. It makes sense. It’s folk music after all. It’s story telling. Not pick a number, stand in line and follow this long, laborious list of rules– Fuck that. I hate what’s happened to music venues in Australia over the past few years. I always leave prematurely, resenting the fact we’ve all been treated like cattle for the past hour or so. It sucks. A lot. All those rules.

”We’re playing on the other side of the rock, which is a beautiful open field,” Gudinski has said. ”We are not interfering with things. There will be specially designed lights to light the rock, though.” And I love this– More gigs are planned at the site for early next year but for ecological reasons – two nesting owls on the rock need to be protected – so shows cannot be held after March each year.

Love owls. Love Leonard.


x.

http://www.smh.com.au/travel/vanishing-point-20101001-160ex.html

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Comments
2 Responses to “Hanging Rock.”
  1. Papa says:

    Misquote…you’re brother said…”count me in, who’s Leaonard Cohen”
    Which when you think about it is quite a different response althogether.
    Adventurous…dontcha think?

  2. how are you!This was a really fine theme!
    I come from itlay, I was fortunate to find your subject in google
    Also I learn a lot in your subject really thank your very much i will come every day

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