When the Mini Minor zoomed up between the huge ten tonne truck and the stage door of the Arkaba Hotel, I could hardly restrain my emotions. Here we were, the Sensational Bodgies and all our equipment, crammed into the tiny car. Ready to ROCK. The biggest event of the Morrison brothers’ short musical career was only hours away. This could be be BIG!

A whole bunch of our mates were coming and there was even a paragraph about us in the paper. The Arkaba Hotel. The big room where Cold Chisel, The Divinyls, The Angels and everyone else that was BIG played when they came to Adelaide.

And now the Bodgies were going to make it our own.

A week earlier, out of the blue, I had taken a call from Jim K. the promoter who booked the gigs at the Ark. ‘We got Jo Jo Zep and The Falcons coming in next Sunday, wanna do the support? $150. Forty minute set.’

Too right brother! 150 bucks! The Falcons! Huge sound system! 600 people!

‘Sure’ I reply casually as if this sort of offer turned up every day. ‘What time?’

‘Sound check 6.30’ .

We were early I know but that would give us a chance to talk to Jo and the guys. Compare notes on guitars and stuff. See what it’s like to be a touring band. Get some phone numbers for interstate promoters. Maybe even jam a bit at the sound check. Maybe Camilleri would want to produce a record for us.

‘Hi we’re the Bodgies, we’re the support band’ I said to the first bloke I saw when we got inside.

WRONG!’ he yelled. “There’s no fucking support fuckin’ act because you weren’t here for the fuckin’ load in so fuck off!’

‘They told us to be here at 6.30,’ I said, feeling very timid now.

‘Well they fucking told you wrong you stupid #@&&!! Fuck off!’ He was completely irrational and it seemed obvious it would be counterproductive to press the point further. I went over to the stage area and spoke to someone else a tad less Neanderthal. He told me to speak to the road manager.

‘He’s in the truck, don’t interrupt him, he’ll be back in a while’. We slunk off and stood in the darkest corner of the venue we could find, completely deflated. Meanwhile, we could see our original contact - lets call him Trog - dragging heavy road cases to and fro with no particular aim or purpose in mind. He just seemed to want to push heavy things.

Eventually a hairy character bounded into the room yelling “All right! Yeah, lets do it! Yeah!’

‘Hi’ I said timidly,‘ we’re the support band’

‘Where the fuck have you been – you missed the load in. You can piss off’. His eyes were wide open and looked like they were pointing in different directions. I tried to explain but he wasn’t listening. My first instinct was to turn around and bugger off but I’d have to explain that to too many people who were coming tonight. I tried again and somehow we came to an agreement that our band would do whatever was needed to help with the rest of the setting up and then, after the gig, help with loading out the huge PA system. A couple of our mates who had rolled up to watch our sound check got roped in too.

My job was to help Trog put up some black cloths over the back of the stage. What could have been a real punch up (by this time the footballer in me was trying to get out) was averted by a complete change in personality by Trog. He had obviously been out to the truck. He seemed to have forgotten our earlier meeting entirely. My job was to stand at the foot of a ladder and throw handfuls of nails into the air. Trog, at the top of the ladder at least 4 meters high, would stick out his hand to catch a few of the nails and use them to tack the black cloth up to the wall. Of all the methods I could think of to get a supply of nails to the top of a ladder, this was the most insanely inefficient. It seemed to make Trog happy though.

Anyway, all five of us worked like dogs until just before we were due to go on and play.

‘Who’s your sound guy?’ asked the Road Manager at the last minute. Sound guy? We’d never thought of that.

‘Ahh, err, we ahh don’t have one.’

“Faaarrrkkk’ he yelled with his head back and his fists clenched.

One of the Falcons crew did the sound mixing for us and, to give him his due, by all accounts did a good job. Their attitude towards us had softened a bit after they saw the rock bottom nature gear that we set up on a tiny corner of the stage.

We had originally planned to go home after a leisurely sound check and then have a shower and a change of clothes before the gig but we ran out of time. Luckily, the Bodgies stage dress was not much different (in fact no different) to our street wear so no one really noticed. The gig went really well, the punters liked us and, considering our preparation, we played really well. We took our gear backstage and were in the process of taking it out the back way to the Mini when one of the Falcons road crew grabbed my guitar amp and carried it off. ‘I’m putting it the car now’ I said. ‘No you’re not, you’re not getting it back until after you’ve helped us with the load out’.

He put it in their truck but was either too stupid to lock the truck or so supremely confident in the unassertiveness of young bands that he did not bother. When he was gone I pinched it back, put it in the Mini and parked around the corner out of sight. Later when it was time to get paid I went around to the venue office in the foyer and a giant bouncer told me to wait out the front. I felt like a naughty schoolboy waiting for the headmaster. (It was a familiar feeling!) Eventually Jim, the promoter, beckoned me in and I went into a tiny booth, just me, Jim and two giant security men. There was hardly enough room to scratch yourself but there was a lot of money piled on the desk.

‘Good gig son – we like you but I hear there is some problem with the load in, I’m keeping $50 back to make up for it with the Falcons crew’. ‘No way,’ I protested, ‘we turned up when you said and five of us worked like dogs until the show started’.

The bouncers started to look agitated but I was not backing down. I had heard a lot of stories about bands being ripped off and was on alert, determined not to let it happen to me. Besides, it was just too comical, too B grade movie, too cheap, to think that a venue like this would heavy me over $50. ‘That’s our money and that’s what we agreed and that’s what we want’. I said, or something to that effect. ‘Get fucked, you shit me’ said Jim the big time promoter and the bouncers loomed. I took the $100 and got out of there. ‘You’ll never work in Adelaide again’ he yelled as I left. It was the first of many times I was to hear that threat.

The Bodgies got together and left before the Falcons finished. No way were we hanging around for the load out.

That’s the way the big gig finished.

There was a postscript though. A few weeks later Jim rang up and without actually apologising, made peace. He even offered us another gig, this time as the headline act. I said OK, but only if he added the $50 he owed us. He seemed to think that was pretty funny but agreed. We always got on well after that.