WARUMPI BAND (Dan O'Connell Hotel, Melbourne) 14th January
The rest of the band weaved through the throng to the stage, picked up their gear and started to play. For George Rurrambu, the crowd parted, mesmerised already by his presence. . . and his truly awesome afro - as light and fluffy as a freshly made stick of fairy floss. He made it to the stage, pulled his first rock pose for the evening and the "mob of spunks" was complete. Launching into Koori Man, the crowd was immediately enthralled with the combination of the Warumpi Band's beautiful cheesy '80s rock, and George Rurrambu's incredible display of showmanship. As far as Australia's, and indeed the world's, frontmen go, there is no more charismatic, entertaining, talented and piss funny than George.
"You'll be satisfied when you home in bed tonight," he promised. Early in the piece, Joining My Life infused the crowd with a reggae bop feel good mentality. Shortly thereafter things began to go apeshit. "From The Bush," a punter yelled. "Not yet," George replied, then thought better of it and started to belt it out. "Listen to me, I'm from the bush. Talkin' to you. From the bush. You've got all you need. Can't you understand? We've got to have our land."
The apeshitness increased exponentially with each song from Waru, No Fear, Stompin Ground to Fitzroy Crossing, reaching a crescendo at Black Fella, White Fella. This song has enjoyed a renaissance and increased audience through its recording by Jimmy Little. Hearing it live was a reminder of its strength and grittiness. Staff at the Dano delighted the packed-in sweaty crowd with intermittent sprays of cold water, in time with George's changing rock poses and appeals to the crowd. "Shh! Shush! I'm talkin now! You understand?" "Yes," the punters roared back, eager to cop an earful of George's unique turn of phrase and its message.
He stands with legs and arms outstretched so we can appreciate his glorious stature. I'm 43 . . . with two grandkids! Certainly, Oil Of Olay (nee Ulan) would be wise to snap him up for an endorsement deal. Special mention goes to the bass player, with his guitar held nice and high, one man boob drooping nicely over the strap and jiggling in time to the beat. Island Home was the band's much anticipated encore. Legend has it that this song goes for at least 15 minutes when played in the Aboriginal communities up North. The crowd is always reluctant to let them go because they're never sure that they'll see the Warumpis again.
I would have liked to quote Warumpi founder Neil Murray, when he wrote in his book Sing For Me Countryman that the band has a reputation as some rarely seen beast. But since some bastard borrowed my copy and never gave it back I can't, suffice to say that Murray's book is also a rarely seen beast. Thankfully Neil has released a new title, One Man Tribe. So I can say instead that the Warumpi Band proved George's theory true on Friday night. "Rock 'n' roll is a mad bastard."
- Emma Merrigan
WARUMPI ROCKS "Warumpi Band Just Went Off"
'Just went off!' That was the consensus of everyone who attended the 1998 Stompem Ground festival in Broome earlier in July.
And from the very beginning of this story I would like to say loud and clear. 'There is absolutely NO truth to the rumour that Warumpi Band are breaking upi'
At Stompem Ground, the shining star (as always) was George Diulaynga pictured in full flight on our cover this month. He is a rock star, and (I'm sure you'll agree) is looking better than ever. Anyone who has had the privilege of seeing Warumpi Band live, knows that they do, just that. Go off I And why shouldn't they. Warumpi Band has made history in this country.
Let's reminisce. Out of all the ground breaking Aboriginal super groups of the 1980's, Warumpi have really and truly stood the test of time. Their following has remained true, as has their music. And their popularity? Well wherever they may go, in rain or hail or snow, Warumpi Band still plays to capacity crowds. Rumour has it (or fact actually) that the line for autographs was just as long for George and Warumpi Band as it as for Peter Garrett and Midnight Oil. And ask any Aboriginal broadcaster around Australia, who they get the most requests for. I bet it is for Warumpi Band.
Let's go back to 1980.1 know that you can all add up, but for the record, the Deadly Vibe record, 1980 was 18 years ago (OK I know that half of you will say you weren't even born)l It was in 1980, that a young Neil Murray arrived from Victoria to take up a position working in support of the growing outstation movement West of Alice Springs. Amongst other things, Neil Murray bought a guitar and an amplifier. Neil met a man called Sammy Butcher and his brother Gordon Butcher and together with other interested young men, they pooled their resources to gradually expand their equipment as well as their music repertoire. The following year (1981) the Warumpi signature rock star, George Dulaynga arrived from Elcho Island in the Top End to step into the lead vocal slot for the Band. By 1982 the band was touring the Northern Territory and West Australia Kim berley region developing their unique sound and original music. Not to mention their fanatic and frenetic audience. In late 1983 they released the first rock track in Aboriginal language (Luritja) entitled 'Jailanguru Pakarnu' (out from jail).
The debut album Big Name No Blankets was recorded and released in 1984. The band performed in the major cities promoting the album to much critical acclaim. In 1985 the band toured national as well as in Papua New Guinea, the Soloman Islands and Vanuatu.
Midnight Oil, inspired by the Warump's outback touring, embarked on a month long tour of Aboriginal communities in July 1985. In the Northern Territory, Warumpi Band accompanied them. It was after this particular tour that Warumpi Band recorded Go Bush. The strong and respectful relationship between Midnight Oil and Warumpi Band has likewise stood the test of time, and only a month ago, long time friends Peter Garrett and George were singing on the one stage.
The band toured nationally in1987 to promote the new album that gave us the single 'My Island Home', which has become an indigenous anthem, and of course, more recently a success hit for Christine Anu.
From mid 1987-1992 the band took a break. And it was during this break that Neil Murray released the first of his two solo albums.
In 1985 Warumpi Band toured Europe performing in Germany, France, Poland, Switzerland, Italy and the UK.
In1996, Warumpi signed to CAAMA music Alice Springs, and since then have revived the magic of the past and continued to go from strength to strength. The next album Too Much Humbug (CAAMA Music) was launched as part of the Deadly Sounds Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Music Awardsin 1996, where the band was presented with the award 'Outstanding Contribution to Aboriginal Music'
And 1998 sees Warumpi still going strong and sounding stronger than ever, as any Stompem Ground punter will tyell you. They continue to tour, sell albums, and enjoy a following that is now in its second generation.
Warumpi Band, we at Deadly Vibe salute you for all of your history making and success. We look forward to the future and all that is still to come. We anticipate the next time we see you p[erform live and know that on our network, you music is still the most requested. Congratulations!