It’s time to let down your hair and dig out those flares from the back of the cupboard. A wave of flower power is washing into town this month with 70’s Unplugged, the multi-media entertainment event that brings the sights and sounds of the 70’s to the stage with a six-piece band and a setlist full of favourites.
Having grown up on the music of the ‘glory days’ (think The Eagles, Simon and Garfunkel, Fleetwood Mac), performer Stephen Fisher-King is witnessing his career come back to where it all began.
“I’ve been working in Sydney mostly for 25 years or more,” says Stephen. “My background has been in musical theatre, but I found that the big clubs in Sydney were looking for more contemporary things – Mamma Mia!, We Will Rock You, those sorts of things.
“The market was changing from the old style of musicals. It was a challenge to go back and relearn all of the music and get back to my guitar playing, but I realised how much I loved that music, the poetry of Don McLean, Cat Stevens.”
There’s no room for one favourite song in Stephen’s eyes. It’s all about the feeling of the show, and making sure each musical moment is connected to the next.
“I love the energy of the show. It starts with just an acoustic guitar and me singing, and the harmonies come in, and the electric guitar.
“I love that energy, everybody on stage loves the music, they’re really passionate about the music. So it’s more than just one song. It goes from Don McLean, fingerpicked with a cello solo, all the way through to the screaming guitars of Led Zeppelin.”
Joining Stephen on stage are a cast of award-winning musicians, including vocalist Di Solomon and guitarist (and one-time Countdown performer) Chris Connolly.
But 70’s Unplugged isn’t just about the music. The ensemble works with a video operator to recreate the feeling of the decade through images, newsflashes and creative tidbits.
“We have a video that runs while the show goes on,” says Stephen. “It starts with funny TV commercials from the 70’s and it gets people into the vibe of what the show is about.
“The video is actually the fourth star of the show. It brings back those memories.”
The event takes place over two 60-minute halves. That said, you can head along to the intimate Morning Melodies session earlier in the day for a selection of songs performed in a stripped-back three-piece format.
“We just won the Australian Club Entertainment Awards for Show of the Year. It was voted by all the agents, all the big bookers all over New South Wales in the Best Production Show category. We were really surprised. It’s only been going for 14 months.”
As to whether the show resonates with younger audiences as well as those who were there to see the decade itself, Stephen is well aware of how deeply the sights and sounds of the 70’s have sunk into everyday Australian life.
“I think it does come across. We play lots of venues with young people and we’re booked up all this year. 82 shows and counting.”
Catch 70’s Unplugged at The Q on Wednesday 14 August. Tickets available at www.theq.net.au.