Telling the life story of one of Australia’s great entertainers has become a labor of love for well known Stage and TV personality Scott McRae. Many tribute shows tend to stay on the safe side, rarely venturing into the dark themes of drugs and abuse, but not this production!
‘The Life And Music Of Stevie Wright And The Easybeats’ tells it all with a no holds barred approach and, after initial skepticism, has the complete blessing from the man himself, Mr. Stevie Wright.
“It was just good timing really, under my teacher’s advise I took up drums as an energy release in school to keep me out of trouble, and used to play along to Stevie Wright’s ‘Hard Road’ album…songs like ‘Evie’ and ‘Black-Eyed Bruiser’. A mate and I snuck out to see The Concert Of The Decade and saw Stevie perform ‘Evie’. It blew me away, his connection with the audience and how he reigned supreme. It stuck with me for a long time. Coincidentally, I was on break in between series for the TV show ‘Postcards’ 30 years later and run into Stevie who was performing close by. That’s where the idea for the show all started.”
Sadly though, Stevie Wright is no longer the energetic, back-flipping frontman he once was due to years of drug abuse and his controversial electro-shock treatment at the Chelmsford Private Hospital. He’s 65 years old and physically a shadow of that charismatic figure that played to an estimated 180,000 at The Concert Of The Decade. He still has though, the wit and talent he always did, but the years of hard living have taken their toll on his motor skills and speech.
“He still thinks he’s lucky that he’s still alive, he’s a real survivor and cherishes life more now. He’s in a really good place now and we’ve helped to stay around decent people and he’s getting taken care of now at a respite home on the coast.”
That aside, Stevie Wright remains untouched in terms of sheer brilliance and talent among his peers, which McRae sees as his inspiration for the show.
“It’s quite surreal at times, to be sitting there with him in his kitchen after having been a fan for so long, he and The Easybeats really put Australia on the world map with the British beat.”
It’s hard to speculate how things would have turned out had Stevie Wright not turned to drugs and alcohol after The Easybeats disbanded, but McRae says that he covers this in the show. “Stevie was offered so many opportunities after The Easybeats, America, Europe.he could have been one of our biggest solo artists but he made his own choices. He just couldn’t seem to shake the money off his back (heroin)” says McRae. “He had the charisma, the voice, the power to be a superstar but I guess his head was in the wrong place.”
The fascination with celebrity is almost a morbid one, because we not only become intrigued by the allure of people and their success, but also to their dark sides. Fortunately, it is a workable formula for McRae to work with and this show has enjoyed an amazingly positive reception from appreciative audiences keen to understand a piece of Australian rock history.
“We’ve had a standing ovation after EVERY show from Day 1- whether a full house or not. Heck I even go out to meet people after the show and tell them that if they didn’t enjoy the show 100% I’ll give your money back.” A pretty bold challenge to lay down, but McRae hasn’t yet had to deliver on his promise. “You can’t get much better feedback than a genuine standing ovation- people don’t get out of their seats unless they mean it.” McRae isn’t at all cocky when sharing this, but is genuinely humbled and ever so grateful for it.
On how he presents his performance in ‘The Life And Music Of Stevie Wright And The Easybeats’, McRae doesn’t attempt to impersonate Wright but rather captures the essence of Stevie on stage with matched energy, dance moves and his spirit. “The main things I do to prepare are stretches, clearing the throat, and then getting out there. The rest takes over itself when I get on stage.”
Having seen glimpses of the show, McRae gets it right on all accounts. He’s clearly studied the master and gives it his all when he hits the stage. He not only sings and dances, but also emanates the very personality of Stevie Wright through this ‘Rockumentary’ that will make you dance, sing, laugh and cry.
Stevie’s story was also shown on ABC-TV’s ‘Australia Story’ in an episode ‘So Much To Say’ in February 2013. It gave a real glimpse into the Wright of today, and heavily featured McRae’s production. If that’s anything to go by, then you’ll want to see ‘The Life And Music Of Stevie Wright And The Easybeats.’
FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY……TICKETS ON SALE NOW!
SATURDAY 29TH NOVEMBER, 2014 THEBARTON THEATRE, ADELAIDE 8PM
www.venuetix.com. 08 8225 8888
Group bookings available
Interviewed by Darren Hassan