Goodness me—can it really be JJJ’s 40th birthday this coming weekend? And even more incredibly—is it really 30 years since its legendary 10th birthday concert on Sydney Harbour featuring the mighty Midnight Oil? I was there for Countdown Magazine and this was my report in the March 1985 edition.
When Jay Jay Jay-FM turned ten on the nineteenth of January it was most appropriate that the focus of the celebrations was Goat Island on Sydney Harbour. The symbol of the zodiac sign Capricorn is, of course, the goat. It was also most appropriate that the band invited to perform to the select crowd of 400 (half competition winners and half staff, media and friends) was Midnight Oil.
As Oil’s drummer Rob Hirst told me just before the concert, ‘JJJ meant that we survived for the first three years.’
Interviewing Rob Hirst before the concert (pic by Rhonda Thwaite).
Confessing that he was ‘stunned’ when the idea was first put to the band, Hirst was fulsome in his praise of the house of three jays. ‘Generally, after travelling the world and hearing some pretty shitty radio stations, it’s great to come home and hear a great radio station. You hear music first on Triple Jay.’
At the media press conference, Peter Garrett went even further, calling Triple Jay, ‘probably the best radio station in the world.’
The concert, broadcast nationally a week later on ABC-TV and ABC-FM (plus Triple Jay in Sydney of course) to an audience in the millions, was a magnificent live event. Some of the real highlights included the watertug spurting six plumes of water, the large carrier Diamond Highway of Panama moving through the harbour on her way to the open sea at the beginning of U.S. Forces and the old coathanger, the Harbour Bridge, turning Triple Jay pink at the setting of the sun. Surreal baby.
The original double page spread in Countdown Magazine (all photos by Rhonda Thwaite, art direction Edward Gillan).
Postscript. The Oils On The Water concert was released on the Midnight Oil Best of Both Worlds DVD (ABC/Universal Music Australia, 2004). It’s also available on You Tube here.
Mark Dodshon: ‘Goat Island was one of those shows that everyone who was there will remember for ever.’ He’s right.
Rob Hirst: “It was just one of those magic nights on Sydney Harbour with the bridge in the background”. He’s also right.