Despite having awoken at twenty past six from a sound sleep, I still felt quite exhausted. In fact, I did what I seldom do, that is return to slumber but only until twenty-two minutes to seven, by which time the “2KY News” had been and gone. When I decided to stretch in the kitchen, I must have pinched a nerve in my upper back. Fortunately, the resultant acute discomfort gradually began to ease as the day wore on. The temperature was twenty-one degrees Celsius, as we made our way to work, with the maximum forecast to reach that of thirty-two.
The last race on the card at Rosehill Racecourse was declared a ‘no race’ after an attendant had accidentally pushed the ‘no-race’ button.
Tiki and I donned the same clothes that we had worn to her birthday party and departed to collect her parents and accompany them to Kamahl’s concert at the Opera House. The night out was intended to be our Christmas present to the pair. “Mum” informed Tiki that her father was in an awful mood. He had arrived home from a do he had attended in Wollongong last night, reeking of alcohol and with the admittance that he had gambled on the pokies, for what must be the first time in his life! This peeved “Mum”, as he doesn’t permit her to play on them when they go out together.
“Dad” informed us as he entered our car that he felt “buggered”. With that admission out in the open he proceeded to be restless for the entire journey although, admittedly, it did feel quite uncomfortable to be travelling in such heat.
Having positioned the ‘Galant’ in the queue at the entrance to the parking station between Circular Quay and the Opera House, I was soon to learn that not only would our car be parked for me, we would be called upon to produce the fee of two dollars and fifty cents, in advance. Both demands raised disquiet in me, but not to the degree it would have had I known that hours later we would return to the vehicle and find it to be unlocked, with the keys in its ignition.
We walked to the Concert Hall and up the stairs to door fourteen. It wasn’t until we were seated that I observed others looking at their programmes. Wanting to make it a special night for our guests, I firstly became angry with myself and then Tiki over the fact that we hadn’t so much as asked the pair if they had wanted one.
Tiki, who usually carries all of our money when we venture out, was so slow to produce the two dollars that were necessary in order to purchase one that her father had long had the amount in hand. This culminated in my impatience and my irritability — at the way the evening had unfolded to that point — getting the better of me and I loudly instructed her to hurry up.
Money in hand, I told the usher at the door to remember me and left on the long walk down to the foyer. The programme was accompanied by a forty-five r.p.m. record, “Christmas With Kamahl”. Returning to my seat five minutes before the show commenced, I removed my coat because of the heat. This didn’t make me feel out of place, for “Dad” hadn’t so much as donned his at all!
With the Concert Hall’s seating about seventy-five per cent occupied and those seats which are located at the rear of the stage completely empty, the first half of the concert proceeded at a slow tempo. Kamahl sang Dave Mills’ hit of 1971, “Love Is A Beautiful Song” and gave all of us the chance to ‘sing at the Sydney Opera House’ by joining in. “Let Me Be There”, Olivia Newton-John’s hit of 1973/’74, was sung prior to Kamahl’s introduction of harpist, Alice Giles, to the stage. Her performance, at the age of just sixteen, sounded like a meritorious one to me and, upon its conclusion, she told of how she dearly wanted to purchase her own harp. Whilst Alice told of how she’d already saved the sum of two thousand dollars towards her fulfilment of this goal, she also explained that she still had much saving ahead of her as a new harp costs between eight and nine thousand dollars.
Kamahl sang a song without the use of the microphone, in order to demonstrate the power in his voice. He was born in Kuala Lumpur of Sri Lankan parentage and emigrated to Australia in 1957. He told of how he used to sing in talent quests in Adelaide, with the “Amateur Hour” being one of those brought to mention.
During the interval, we adjourned to the top level where we assuaged our thirsts to some degree with an orange juice each at the combined cost of two dollars. We gents used the modern individual urinals. I also took the opportunity to comb my hair, however, when I had raised my arms to do so, the top button flew off my new brown coat. As this was only the second time that I’d worn it and as it had cost me eighty-five dollars, I was displeased to say the least!
The second half of the concert featured the three women and one man that are The Claire Poole Singers. The vocal group excellently performed its renditions of such songs as “Amazing Grace” and “Harmony”. A barefooted Kamahl, clad in a kaftan, re-emerged to sing his last bracket of songs. My three companions weren’t completely honest when he asked for those who hadn’t been to the Opera House before to raise their hands. This concluding segment included “Are You Lonesome To-night?”, which I believe dates back to the 1920s, “The Impossible Dream” from the musical, ‘The Man Of La Mancha’ and ended with “My Way”. “Old Man River”, from the musical, ‘Show Boat’, was sung as an encore.
Tonight’s concert was Kamahl’s twenty-third at the Opera House since November, 1973. I didn’t say anything to the others, but there was nowhere near the atmosphere that there was when I attended the double bill which featured Cliff Richard and Harry Secombe on the night of the twenty-first of October, 1973; just one day after Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, had officially opened the building.
However, Kamahl possesses an enviable philosophy and outlook on life and is presently assisting the National Parks and Wildlife Foundation. As we walked back to the parking station, we passed those people who were queuing to receive Kamahl’s autograph. He’d earlier told the audience in regard to this: ‘You don’t really need to have a programme or a new album…a bus ticket will do.’
Although I was nearly falling asleep, due to fatigue, I still drove home. “Dad” had dozed through the greater part of the concert’s second half.