30 Years Of The Skull Cave – Tribute to Stephen Walker LIve at The Forum

Get the latest from Beat

30 Years Of The Skull Cave – Tribute to Stephen Walker LIve at The Forum


How does a city pay tribute to someone like Stephen Walker?

How does a city pay tribute to someone like Stephen Walker? A man who has spent the last 30 years at RRR ­­­- 14 of those years as station manager – deserves to be helped out and 1200 people did just that in heading to The Forum to say ‘thanks’ to ‘The Ghost’. Along with those punters came the artists, and what a roll call it was. Dirty Three, The Skull Cave All-Stars, Gareth and Dan from The Drones in acoustic mode, Dave Graney and The Lurid Yellow Mist, Ron S Peno and Sand Pebbles. Wow. Add to this some of the RRR presenters on the decks between acts and you have a very warm, very Melbourne ‘thank you’ to a man who truly deserves it.

‘The Ghost’ has been battling MS for some time and the money raised from this event was going to pay for stem cell treatment in Germany – treatment Australia doesn’t offer. With an audience of like-minded well-wishers, it was a night like no other. Everyone was there for the cause and the acts payed tribute in fine fashion. Cam Butler joined Ron Peno for a two-man set, while Dave Graney brought the band along for a set of ’70s-inspired smooth funk and soul. Gareth and Dan from The Drones were fantastic, and although their set was a short four songs ( Jezebel, The Drifting Housewife, Your Acting’s Like The End Of The World and Shark Fin Blues), the stripped-bare nature of the performance made them more powerful than ever; it was well received with grand applause and appreciation.

The Skull Cave All-Stars, including presenters of much-loved RRR shows as guests sharing vocal duties, treated the audience to a set of covers ranging from Iggy And The Stooges to Black Cab, with Black Cab members themselves amongst those joining the set. With a touching speech made by Walker from his seat behind the sound desk, the audience were reminded exactly why they were there. With his distinct voice echoing through The Forum, he was both open about his fight and clearly in deep appreciation for everyone who had made the night possible.

It was The Dirty Three that brought the house down though, playing an hour of beautiful and at times destructive music. Anyone who has seen the band will know what Warren Ellis and company can achieve live, but it was the fact that they were here out of love that made their set extra special. Clearly warm from his recent Grinderman engagements, Ellis was in fantastic form. He played up to the audience between songs by explaining each track’s meaning, however bizarre or touching they may be: "This song is about going to the milk bar and having the nice old lady telling you to get fucked."

Inviting Joel Silbersher up to play bass on two songs and confirming rumours by calling Nick Cave on stage to play keys, the set was something that few will forget. With a set list leaning heavily on tracks from Ocean Songs, including Sea Above, Sky Below, Restless Waves and Last Horse On The Sand, the group filled their hour set and were calling to play longer when time got away from us and it was time to go.

With smiles all round, we left the venue knowing we had been part of something very special and absolutely Melbourne.

( Those wanting to help The Ghost’s cause can donate by direct donations via Stephen Walker, BSB: 063 002, Account: 10009630, or cheque or money order posted to Stephen Walker, 3RRR, PO Box 2145, Brunswick East, 3057.)