‘Soundtrack of our lives’: All-star show hails Mushroom’s 50th birthday
Melbourne will play host to some of the country’s biggest musicians – plus a few international appearances – for a “mega-size” one-off live concert at Rod Laver Arena on Sunday.
Over the years, we’ve had the country’s best bands, singers and solo artists line up for Live Aid and tribute concerts, to fundraise for bushfire victims in 2009 and 2020, and, of course, just to celebrate music with the once-iconic Big Day Out national music festival, which last got on the road in 2014.
We’ve not had a concert like this in almost a decade.
Kicking off at 5.30pm and broadcast live on the Seven network from 7pm, the almost five-hour Mushroom 50 Live concert is for another good cause: to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Mushroom Group founded by the late Michael Gudinski.
More than 34 artists will perform 50 songs over five generations of music.
After months of speculation, bands on the guest list include Hunters & Collectors, Birds of Tokyo and Temper Trap, solo artists Amy Shark, Christine Anu, Dan Sultan, Jimmy Barnes, Kate Ceberano, Missy Higgins and Paul Kelly, who will perform a mix of originals and classic songs, hand-selected from the Mushroom catalogue.
Working Class Man, Holy Grail, Sweet Disposition, Riptide, Hoops, It’s Only the Beginning, Before Too Long and Living In The 70’s are on the playlist.
Shark is likely to sing the Kylie Minogue classic, Can’t Get You Out of My Head.
Icing on the birthday cake will be on the big screen – international superstars Ed Sheeran, Garbage and alt-J will perform recorded songs from the Aussie playlist.
‘Esteemed artists, classic tracks’
Australian indie-rock band Youth Group will be joined by Budjerah, Mia Wray and UK singer and Grammy-award winner Sam Smith for a recorded performance of ‘Forever Young’.
“These esteemed artists and classic tracks have become the soundtrack to the lives of millions around the country,” says Mushroom.
“While Mushroom 50 Live will pay homage to that legacy, the event will also look to the future, showcasing the next generation of Mushroom artists who will make their own mark on the Australian music landscape in the years to come.”
Mushroom Group Chief Executive Matt Gudinski said the once-in-a-lifetime concert “had been years in the making”.
“Mushroom 50 Live spans five decades of iconic Australian music, there’s something for everyone and while we’ve announced a lot, we’re holding a few big surprises close to our chest, with all to be revealed on the night,” he said.
As seen in the recent feature documentary, Ego: The Michael Gudinski Story, Mushroom Records was founded by Gudinski in 1972, when he was just 20 years of age.
It has gone on to become the most influential music company in Australian history.
Son of immigrant Jewish parents, the doco shines light on Gudinski’s obsession with Australian music and how he wrote Mushroom into the history books as the country’s most influential music business: “He was a music man, impresario and natural born hustler”.
In the early days, he nurtured artists including Skyhooks, Split Enz, Jimmy Barnes, Paul Kelly, Hunters & Collectors, Kylie Minogue, Archie Roach and Yothu Yindi.
He took international acts on the road including the Foo Fighters, Ed Sheeran, Bruce Springsteen and Sting.
“There’s barely a living Australian whose life hasn’t been touched by the music he was behind … he became an audacious international player and Australian household name,” reads the official synopsis.
He was eccentric, bold and used “unorthodox tactics” to help create this soundtrack of a nation.
Mushroom 50 is the third in a series of concerts to celebrate Gudinski and the label’s evolution.
In 1982, Mushroom hosted its 10th birthday bash with the so-called Mushroom Evolution Concert at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl.
The headline acts were Jo Jo Zep and the Falcons, the Sunnyboys, Kevin Borrich Express, the Models, Renee Geyer, Russell Morris and the Rubes.
More than 100,000 turned out for the two-day event, which produced a live album and iconic video recordings.
Michael Gudinski backstage at the Mushroom 25 concert on 14th November 14 1998 in Melbourne. Photo: Getty
Then there was the record-breaking Mushroom 25 Live concert at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1998 – at the time the largest-ever ticketed concert in Australian music history, with 73,000 people in attendance. While not as long as the ambitious 16-hour Live AID concert back in 1985 at Wembley Stadium (organised by Bob Geldof to raise funds for in Ethiopian famine victims), the November 14 gig lasted nine hours and showcased 54 Australian acts.
Peter Andre, the Whitlams, Painters and Dockers, INXS and the Choirboys were part of the line-up.
After the event, the Australian Financial Review published a first-person diary account of Gudinski’s week leading up to the big bash – organising a simulcast on Triple M, securing last minute acts, smiling for the cameras for an unexpected This is Your Life ambush with Mike Munro … and Minogue had laryngitis.
It was hectic
“My mobile phone (which I usually hate to have on) keeps ringing. I have phone interviews to do in every spare minute. Then we race to the Hard Rock Cafe where Mushroom Records is honoured for 25 years of achievements with a Walk of Fame star.
“On to the MCG, where many of the artists and the entire media corps are assembled for an on-stage press conference – and it’s raining. Back to the office and the 50th version of the running schedule.”
“There is something in the air at the office. Everyone’s buzzing. I put it down to my excellent leadership. Everything’s under control and they appreciate having me at the helm.”
Then the sun came out.
“I watch most of the 62 acts from the side of the stage, thanking them all personally, cheering so many bands that have made Mushroom Records so successful, artists who have meant so much to me.”
Words that will ring true again on Sunday.
Gates open at Rod Laver Arena at 4pm, with the concert starting running from 5.30pm to 10pm.
Mushroom 50 Live Concert Event premieres on Channel 7 and 7plus at 7pm