Brian Mannix brings his Absolutely ‘80s flashback show to Busselton’s Barnard Park on Saturday, January 24, for the Oz Rock Busselton extravaganza, alongside Icehouse, Wendy Matthews, Ross Wilson, Diesel and James Reyne. SHANE PINNEGAR pinned the former Uncanny X-Men frontman down for a chat.
Brian Mannix formed the Absolutely ‘80s revue with Scott Carnes from Kids In The Kitchen, about nine years ago, and rarely a weekend goes past when they’re not playing somewhere around the country.
“Yeah, me and Scott sort of put the thing together,” Mannix explains, “well, he did most of the work (laughs). So for us it’s fun and it’s good to work together because in the ‘80s we were competing against each other so we didn’t really spend a lot of time together. Once we started spending time together we realised that we’ve got a lot in common and we get on really well. It’s fun.”
Also on board for the WA trip is David Sterry from Real Life and Boom Crash Opera’s Dale Ryder, with each singer “doing our own hits,” says Mannix. “So you get to see Scott Carnes do Kids In The Kitchen, and the rest of the others, and then at the end we do some stuff together which is generally the ‘dead guys songs’ I ‘spose (laughs) – the all-in brawl.
“Yeah, it’s good, it’s mostly our hits and it’s good value for people – there’s no fillers, every song is a hit, so it works well.”
With a collective repertoire including ‘80s chart-toppers Onion Skin, Send Me An Angel, Change In Mood, Great Wall, Bitter Desire, Catch Me I’m Falling as well as Mannix’s own Uncanny X-Men hits 50 Years, Everybody Wants To Work and Party, the Absolutely ‘80s party is sure to be infectious.
Mannix goes on to explain that there was no animosity between the different acts at the peak of their commercial success – just competitiveness.
“We didn’t know each other. It was like he went for Hawthorn and I was Essendon, y’know? So, now we get on great, but we didn’t really spend much time with each other in the ‘80s.”
Countdown’s 40th anniversary has seen nostalgia for the period running at an all-time high, with the recent ABC two-part special reminding us of how many times – six – Mannix guest hosted the iconic TV show.
“I thought it was a good special – I couldn’t believe how much I was in it!” he laughs. “It was good and I’ve got a real soft spot for Countdown. It was important – that was the make-or-break show back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and we’d all watch it every week no matter what.
“Most households only had one telly in those days, so the whole family would sit around and watch the show. Two million people watching every week certainly helps you sell a few records!”
Don’t think for a moment, though, that Mannix is still living in the past – he’s quick to dispel any notion of that right off the bat.
“Look, I think it was a good era,” he says with a slight sigh. “I think people probably remember it more fondly than it deserves to be – in that you remember the good music that has come out of it, but for every one good song there were three pretty shit ones like Haysi Fantayzee or Haircut 100 or whatever!”