Home Interviews SHARON O’NEILL talks to Rock Club 40

SHARON O’NEILL talks to Rock Club 40

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PHOTO COURTESY PETER SMITH

It has been quite some time since Sharon O’Neill has performed in Melbourne but next month the very popular singer/songwriter will be hitting the stage of the iconic Palais Theatre in St. Kilda, along with many of her contemporaries from the 70s/80s and 90s, for Pure Gold Live and she is really looking forward to the experience.  “I haven’t been on stage in Melbourne for quite a while,” she tells me in our recent interview, “and at the Palais! It’s a great show; a real fun show. I think everyone’s going to have a good time.” The Melbourne show is part of a tour for the Pure Gold series of  concerts, each featuring a varied line-up of artists. Sharon will be performing in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Further dates might be added later in the year.

While she might not have been here recently to perform on her own, Sharon points out that she has toured here in various other capacities. “I quite often do back up singing if I like the material so the last time would probably be a few years ago now with Leo Sayer. I did back- ups and keyboards on his tour for a few years. That would probably have been the last time in Melbourne.  I started out doing harmonies. My girlfriend used to take the lead so it’s always been a real special part of anything I’m involved with apart from just doing my own thing. If I’m approached about anything and I really like the material, I’ll get up there and sing back-ups any day. Try to restrain me! Tony Hadley from Spandau Ballet, Paul Young, I did their tour as a back-up singer and that was great because I loved all the songs.”

Sharon says that she is equally at home whether she is singing backing vocals or centre stage, singing solo. “If I’m comfortable with the material and I like the artist, then I just adore singing back-up vocals. For me, it’s a real treat to be able to be on that side of it again after all these years.”

Although she doesn’t perform on a regular basis these days, she does sometimes get together with four other female vocalists to do some shows in New Zealand which, she says, has been wonderful over the years. “Five of us girls have a little unit and we do the wineries over there. I’ve just been over there twice in the last six weeks, doing a winery and doing Auckland. There are five of us and Debbie Harwood puts it all together over there and does amazingly! Margaret Urlich and myself, we’re both living in Australia; Shona Laing, she joins us and Annie Crummer, so it’s actually a fantastic show. We have a fantastic band playing in the show. We each do our hits and a few covers and we all help each other’s songs out with harmonies. It’s really quite massive. It’s amazing. It’s real female power there. We have a ball. Debbie came up with the logo ‘Give it a Girl’ as in give it a whirl. We have a lot of material between the five of us and so it feels very powerful.”

A native of New Zealand, Sharon has lived in Australia for around 35 years now but really enjoys the opportunity to go back to her homeland and perform. “Unfortunately, with these gigs, you kind of go in, you do your sound check, you play and the next day, you come back here. But recently, about a year ago, I did go back to my hometown and I did my own show which was amazing because I’d never really done that solo before and my whole family was able to come and it was really quite special. I got to be there for a week and go back to all my old haunts which was fantastic because otherwise it’s just all too brief.”

Sharon’s musical career began when she was in college. “I had picked up guitar and my bestie was the singer and I used to do harmonies. I had a lot of poetry floating around and I started putting melodies to it and we won a contest over there. We used to do songs at cabaret shows and we were part of a little folk group. It was kind of very slow at first. I had a day job for three years in radio and this was like a hobby to go out and sing, just the three of us; me on guitar and them singing. Then I applied for a job in Christchurch with a band. They wanted a female singer. They were a successful band already. They had hits. My mum actually said ‘Why don’t you apply?’ so I did and I got the job and that was the last thing I did in terms of a day job. I left that and joined the band and it just took off from there really.”

An equally accomplished singer and songwriter, Sharon admits that she does prefer the latter. “lt will always be songwriting for me because that came first – you know, the chicken and the egg thing – and because Nancy sang the songs, I could just concentrate on putting the music together and the lyrics together so I have to say it was really hard for me to step out front to sing on my own. That was the hardest thing ever. I was really comfortable writing and singing harmonies so the very first time I went out to sing a song, which was with that band that I joined, I was totally freaked out. It’s been something of a hurdle in the early days but I really love it now. I’m really happy to be out front and do my thing.”

Sharon says that she has a backlog of new material that no one has ever heard so, hopefully, one day we will be hearing some new material from her. In the meantime, we can enjoy the songs we know and love as the singer belts out some of our favourite tunes from the eighties at these Pure Gold shows, sharing the stage with some old friends…

“I think that’s what’s great about the ‘Gold’ shows,” she says.” The first one I did, I just loved it because it was catching up with all these people that you haven’t seen for all these years.  It’s great, after all these years, to be backstage with these people and you talk about stuff that nobody else would know but us. It’s like a big reunion really and everyone has such a great time. Egos don’t go past the door. You’re just doing songs that you’ve had success with and it’s really nice.”

Sharon will perform at the Palais Theatre in St. Kilda, Melbourne on Friday 13th May, The Evan Theatre in Penrith, Sydney on Saturday 30th April and Sandstone Point Hotel in Brisbane on Saturday, 21st May. For details on how to book  tickets for these shows, see below.

 

by Sharyn Hamey

 Copyright © Sharyn Hamey 2016.  All rights reserved

PHOTO COURTESY PETER SMITH

 Sharon will perform at

Pure Gold Live at The Palais Theatre

in Melbourne Friday 13th May

Tickets on sale now through Ticketmaster 13 61 00

or www.ticketmaster.com.au

Sandstone Point Hotel

in Brisbane Saturday 21st May

Tickets on sale now through Ticketek 132 849

or www.ticketek.com.au

Evan Theatre, Penrith

in Sydney Saturday 30th April

Tickets on sale now through Ticketek 132 849

or www.ticketek.com.au

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