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Our Bowl turns 60

05 Mar 2019

Our Bowl turns 60 Image

Since 1959, The Sidney Myer Music Bowl has been an iconic part of Melbourne’s local entertainment scene and last month it celebrated its 60th birthday.

Officially opened by Prime Minister Robert Menzies in 1959, the Bowl has seen many of the world’s greatest entertainers perform live. The iconic amphitheatre, which backs on to views of our magnificent city skyline, continues to provide a magical outdoor experience for music revellers everywhere.

In 1967, The Seekers performed their homecoming concert wowing an estimated 200,000 people that spilled over into the lush grounds of Kings Domain. Listed in the 2007 Guiness Book of World Records as the biggest attendance at a concert in the Southern Hemisphere, this extraordinary event is part of Australia’s rich and varied musical heritage.

Having a long history with the Bowl, both as listener and worker, Arts Centre Melbourne’s now head of contemporary performance David Anderson told Southbank Local News that his most memorable moment came at the Bowl’s 50th anniversary show.

As the person responsible for programming the four-day party, David said the moment came on day two when the RocKwiz crew ended their two-hour special, which included the likes of the Galvatrons, Hoodoo Gurus and an encore from a very special guest…

“RockWiz did a fake ending and then as the crowd was almost getting up to leave they announced: ‘ladies and gentleman please welcome to the stage Judith Durham,’” he said. “She’d apparently taken a bit of convincing to come out but 2000 people literally leapt to their feet and I’ve never seen that anywhere before nor since. This was people of all ages and that was one of the all-time powerful moments.”

While he, like so many Melbournians, has many special memories at the Bowl, that image of the crowd’s response to the surprise appearance of The Seekers lead singer is forever etched in David’s memory.

Whether it’s been seeing AC/DC, Sir Paul McCartney, Kylie Minogue, Kanye West, Bob Dylan, Blondie, Pearl Jam, Lenny Kravitz, Lorde, Crowded House, Beach Boys, Bon Jovi or Daft Punk (the list goes on and on!), it’s fair to say that nearly every Melburnian would feel a personal connection to the venue like no other.

And while it’s undergone a few upgrades over the years to get to where it is now, a process David also played a big role in during the 90s, the feeling for both artists and audiences alike is just as extraordinary as it was 60 years ago.

“One of the things that I love about that venue is the relationship between the performer and the audience,” David said. “I’ve seen some pretty seasoned performers like the guys from the Red Hot Chili Peppers walk out onto the stage and take two steps back almost as if to say ‘how many people really are here’?”

“It’s got that incredible sense of immediacy so a lot of artists really love playing there.”

Arts Centre Melbourne CEO Claire Spencer said: “Celebrating 60 years of high-calibre performances has meant that hundreds of thousands of audiences have had the opportunity to enjoy live music in a stunning outdoor venue, thanks to the overwhelming generosity of the Sidney Myer Fund, which was established upon Mr Myer’s passing in 1934.”

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