Voted as Mr Ocean Grove in 1971, Brian Mannix has in the years that followed become an Australian institution that in a way rivals the Dog on the Tuckerbox at Gundagai.
Throughout the ’80s, Mannix’s band, the Uncanny X-Men, had a string of hits – and in the upcoming months, Mannix is bringing the Absolutely ’80s show to the Gateway Hotel as well as the Barwon Heads Hotel in April. With such an affinity to Geelong and the region having gigged relentlessly around years ago, these shows are a sort of homecoming.
“It’s good to be back out on the road, but it’s not like we have ever left. It’s great to get up on stage with Scott [Carne – Kids in the Kitchen] and Dale [Ryder – Boom Crash Opera] and the backing band is really good, and so I thoroughly enjoy it. If you came last time, it’ll be a different experience this time around because we have changed up the setlist. There are a few different things in the show that will be good to do down at Geelong,” Mannix said in the lead up to the tour.
Having stayed down on the Bellarine Peninsula as a child on his summer holidays, it was a little surprising that he was voted as Mr Ocean Grove, as he just entered it for the chance to win five dollars. “My initial thought of that contest was I would give it a go and it was a worthwhile first prize. I bought a rubber monster mask with that money and boy was it a good one, it went all the way around your head!”
If you haven’t seen the Absolutely ’80s show just yet, it is a celebration of some of Australia’s greatest bands at the time – Boom Crash Opera, Wa Wa Nee, Kids in the Kitchen, as well as the Uncanny X-Men. You can be sure to hear all the hits at these gigs – just like The Rolling Stones will do when they’re in town.
“I’m going to see the Stones in a couple of weeks. I hope they play some new material, but also I wanna hear Satisfaction and Brown Sugar. Our show is the same concept. You’ll hear some new stuff as well as your favourites. You can’t just play the b-sides and rarities at a gig like this. I didn’t realise when we first started out that I would be playing these songs 30 years later, but here we are.
“I’m excited about coming back to Geelong because we used to play there all the time back in the day. The Valley Inn, the Barwon Heads Hotel, Eureka, The Sundowner – there were plenty of great gigs there.”
Talking about the Gateway Hotel show, Mannix is planning on showing his true colours in support of his beloved Essendon Bombers; who for those who follow the AFL, claimed Paul Chapman in last year’s trade period. Telling Mannix that the Geelong crowd are quite proud about the Cats and that Chapman leaving the club is still a little sore spot, it’s obvious that he doesn’t really care.
“We’ve got Chappy and that’s all there is to it. I’m going to go on stage with my Bombers jumper, and the Gateway show is going to be a lot of fun. Some mothers bring their daughters to the show and there is a new generation discovering our hits. Come out, have a boogie and say hello.”
Written by Tex Miller