… is an Australian band that many people would have tripped over in their uni days in the early to late 80’s. They were a pub band through and through and played many a gig all over Australia – reaching out to the masses in ways that so many bands struggle to do so today.
They developed quite a cult following and it was no surprise. Even today Mick Thomas commands a dedicated bunch of followers (come stalkers) but then this probably comes as no surprise to most who know of the band he fronted then; he (Weddos and The Sure Thing) earned it doing the hard yards, trotting themselves out to real Australian audiences all across this big bit of dried up dirt – and all over the globe. Weddings in my book represented what I can only describe as the only real Australian rock-balladeering band to come out of this country.
Oh sure – I might own up to a little bit of bias on this front. Only a little mind. They won me over the very first time I heard them as they not only shared with you the yarns of old – but they introduced to some great new ones as well. They could shift you through whole range of emotions in one gig and introduce you to people and places from all over the world.
Weddings did for me through song, what Gerald Durrell did for me through writing: they told a ripper yarn and in doing so – they taught me a hell of a lot about a world I didn’t know about. I hear some of you saying: “Big call there Belongum!” but it’s true. I don’t know how it happened but they became my ‘Beatles’ or my ‘Rolling Stones’. The difference for me is that they told stories of real people through their songs – the kind of people we could possibly meet or potentially be and by doing this – they made a wider world about us – seem much more real.
What about Paul Kelly? Well, if the Weddings were my ‘Beatles’ – then Paul Kelly was (and still is) my ‘Bob Dylan’! He fronted a band called the Coloured Girls back then. Paul Kelly is a master all unto himself – in another category entirely – and I might touch on that elsewhere one day, but it was Weddings that I saw first and they held a stage in ways I couldn’t begin to appreciate with other rock bands at that time. If I’d have seen ‘Paul Kelly and the Coloured Girls’ first it might have been an entirely different story altogether.
Yeah – I know… there was ‘Cold Chisel’ – but for all that Jimmy Barnes, Ian Moss and the others could pump out there (and they were entertaining as all get out), I just never felt their yarns in their songs- just their raw energy! Whilst it felt great to be blown away by their rawness as it hammered away at you, when Weddos filled a stage they always seemed ready to take you with them on their journeys – I always got a sense of them in what they would choose to sing and maybe it’s because they didn’t TELL you everything you needed to know – they just did their damndest to make you FEEL it!
Weddings taught me about places that I didn’t know about – outside of my home town. I got to peek at Melbourne and Sydney through the eyes of pub-goers and the homeless – both characters of whom form the backbones of particular songs in Weddos earlier line-up through the 80’s. I learned about old swaggies, Tex Morton, abandoned mining towns and all manner of things that reflected the changing world that was around me at that time.
When I put a uniform on and left my home shores – Weddos anchored me in place. It reminded me of the places and scenes I’d return too – of the people I’d been missing, those I might be meeting and the mate who was responsible for my being a Weddings fan in the first place. I don’t know if it’s possible to have room inside yourself for more than one ‘sensory overload initiator’ but Wedding could sometimes tip me over the edge when I felt homesick or just plain scared.
They told me stories that left me chilled to my bone and had me bent around yarns that I felt to my core. When I heard the story behind The Rain in My Heart it fair broke my heart. No family should have to lose one person to suicide – let alone two. For a Short Time – also covered by ‘Tiddas’ (who did a bloody deadly job I might add) – told the yarn of a young woman who had held a special place in the ‘band’s’ heart. A few years later they’d found out she’d been killed in a tragic accident back home. It smacks of the melancholic tones of regret, lost opportunity and the sheer bloody awkwardness of not knowing just how much you should miss someone – that you only just realised you cared about – when their gone.
Or they reminded you about a side of the history you often take for granted – just because it’s gone and others tell you how great it was! Scorn of the Women tells us a flipside story of our ANZAC Day legends! Not all of our men could go off and become bronzed ANZAC’s – fighting for God, Queen, Country and their mates! No – many had to stay behind (thankfully – but quite a few of them didn’t see it that way at the time) and do other important tasks. Or they simply weren’t fit enough to die on other peoples battlefields – thus their disabilities became their savior and their torturer all in one.
It’s a gift to be able to tell a tale and not seem like your telling one at all. It’s even more memorable if the yarn you tell develops a following and all you did was tell it well. Mick Thomas and the Weddos crew could do this and they did so bloody well – each and every time I saw them occupy a stage! I’ve never been one to get all noisy about a band – but Weddings had this magic ability to make me want to part of their yarn. I felt like I belonged to them as odd as that might sound.
Whenever I meet a fellow Weddings Parties Anything follower it doesn’t matter the lives we lead in our own private worlds. We both have an instant connection that reminds me of those I once served a life in uniform with. It cuts through all the bulldust and difference,we speak the same language, remember all the important parts and we connect almost perfectly – for a moment…
… for a short time!
Belongum – Out!