ALEX FORMOSA BAUDO chats to Rock Club 40 about Communication – The Marc Hunter Songbook
On 17th July 1998, the Australian music scene lost one of its most popular, gifted and enigmatic performers when Marc Hunter lost his battle with cancer, leaving behind an extraordinary legacy of music that lives on in the hearts and minds of millions. Most notably known as the front man for Dragon who had a string of hits throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s, Marc’s musical catalogue extends much further than that. He also released five solo albums and wrote or co-wrote an impressive collection of material during his career.
This work is paid homage in ‘Communication – The Marc Hunter Songbook’, a show put together by Marc’s good friend and fellow musician Alex Formosa Baudo.
Alex explains that he came up with the idea for this show around three years ago on the fifteenth anniversary of Marc’s passing. “I did a show at the Gershwin Room (in Melbourne) and I had this idea of a storyline behind the show and I wanted to make it into a semi musical. I wanted to show people that Marc wasn’t just a singer in a band but he was also a great solo artist. He made a lot of really strong solo records which, incidentally, will be remastered and released digitally very soon. The idea was not to just focus on Dragon’s work but also his solo stuff and actually show people what a great talent we lost and so we did the first show on the fifteenth anniversary of his death and it was very successful and since then I have put more ideas behind it and started writing it and putting little monologues behind the songs. And then we started to do a series of shows after that at The Flying Saucer Club. The storyline is basically around Marc’s life and little anecdotes that a lot of people have heard and some they haven’t and a kind of journey through his life and focussing on what great songs he’s written or co-written and it sort of gets you by surprise because you kind of forget about all the songs that he has written and the vast variety of styles etc. and what a great singer he was of course.”
The show has been performed with much success in both Victoria and South Australia and will have its final performance for 2016 at Lucky 13 in Moorabbin, Melbourne next week. As Alex tells me, “It will be the last one for the year at this stage and we’re all gearing up for it and it should be a good one. We’re going to make it a damn special one. We’re going to be doing pretty much the whole record so there will be a little bit of variation from the previous shows. Before we only did about five or six tunes off the album but this time it’s going to be full on and for this show we’ve done a bit of a mixture of arrangements.”
Alex will be joined by Mick Pealing (Stars), Billy Miller (The Ferrets), Eric McCusker (Mondo Rock), Adrian Scott (Kylie Minogue), Rick Petropolous (The Ferrets) and Mike Oliphant (Dione Warwick) and special guest support on the night will be Pat Wilson.
“We have added a couple of little surprises that we’ve been putting together since we got this line-up together,” he reveals. “All the stuff from the album is there but there’s a few things we’ve changed around and a couple of little surprises as well.”
The stories that Alex shares during the show are stories that were told to him by Marc who was a good friend. “The last six months of his life, we spent a lot of time together. We travelled to Italy together with his wife Wendy. We were on a mission there to beat this thing he had. And in conversation he told me lots of stuff which was quite amusing and some very funny stories. He was in a lot of pain but he always had this flair and an elegant wit to him. So he told me all these stories which I could relate to some of the songs and they all kind of fit into the puzzle, if you will.”
Alex recalls meeting Marc when he did his first solo record, Fiji Bitter. “I remember he used to come around daily to my parents’ house because my brother was working with him on that record with Richard Lush and he would come around daily with his acoustic guitar and just rattle off four or five tunes at a time that he’d just written the day before. He played the piano as well and he was great at co-writing with other people. Someone would come up with an idea and he would just tag on that and finish it for them. His mind was always active in a composing way. He was very prolific. I remember that.”
He points out that he could have easily recorded a whole album of Dragon hits but he says that wasn’t the idea behind it. “The idea was basically doing my renditions of a few well known Dragon hits and also songs that weren’t hits that Marc co-wrote. There is a beautiful song called ‘Smoke’ which he wrote with his brother Todd and his wife Joanna and it’s just such a strong song and it’s quite eerie. It’s so much about his life about to end and this was a song that was written for the ‘Dreams of Ordinary Men’ album. It’s such an eerie song and a beautiful song. I completely stripped it and recorded it as a piano vocal. I remember putting it together thinking ‘Wow!’ It was almost like he already knew what was going to happen and he wrote it down as a lyric.”
You can catch ‘Communication – The Marc Hunter Songbook’ at Lucky 13, Cochranes Rd Moorabbin (Melbourne) on Friday, 7th October. Doors open 8pm.
by Sharyn Hamey
Copyright © Sharyn Hamey 2016. All rights reserved
Please note that the ‘Communication’ CD will be available to purchase at the show.