All the hits from Aussie rock's best at Wickham festival

Singing along to Rain, Are You Old Enough? and April Sun In Cuba at the top of your voice with a group of strangers in a pub is almost a rite of passage in Australia.

ON SONG: Mark Williams, of Dragon. Catch him and 15 other legendary Australian acts at Live At The Foreshore on November 5. Picture by David Stewart

ON SONG: Mark Williams, of Dragon. Catch him and 15 other legendary Australian acts at Live At The Foreshore on November 5. Picture by David Stewart

Dragon had the knack for writing catchy rock songs.

So did bands like The Radiators, Wa Wa Nee, GANGgajang, Allniters and Machinations. And you can see them all at Live At The Foreshore on Sunday, November 5. 

Mark Williams, for one, can’t wait to belt out Dragon’s greatest hits to a crowd of thousands.

The versatile singer has fronted many bands in his time, including INXS, but Dragon has become a full-time gig. The band lost their original lead singer, Marc Hunter, to cancer in 1988.

“In some ways I am like a chameleon in being able to sing other people’s songs but I very much do it my own way as I can’t sing like anyone else. I very much have my own voice but have the other person in mind when I sing,” he tells Weekender.

"I very much have my own voice but have the other person in mind when I sing."

Mark Williams

“I would never dare to try and be Marc Hunter. For me, that would just be an insult.

“About three or four years after I started singing with Dragon I totally lost my voice and couldn’t sing a note for six months. We hired various singers and I played acoustic guitar on the back line alongside the rest of the guys and in that six months we actually became a band.

“The bond was formed and it’s only gotten stronger from that point on.”

It is a testament to the quality and popularity of their music that Dragon survived their tumultuous early years and were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2008. Their catchy, singalong songs struck a chord with a nation and became anthems. 

“It’s unfortunate that they never made it internationally because they were well on their way in the ’80s. But circumstances prevented them going further,” Williams says.

“The band talks about it with a bit of jest.

“There’s a lot of luck involved with making it. I had a huge hit with Show No Mercy in 1990 but that was because I had a fantastic group of people around me and everything fell into place.

“Sometimes I’m singing Dragon’s songs and the interaction between the audience and us feels like it could be anywhere in the world.” 

Live At The Foreshore is now in its third year and has relocated to Wickham Park this time around due to the construction work being undertaken in Newcastle in readiness for the V8 Supercars race.

“We’re excited about having a crack at a new venue. It’s a beautiful green space that gives us a load of options to create another great rockin’ day,” festival promoter Brent Lean said.

“It’s only a few minutes up the road from the foreshore with a great transport network at the door.”  

Sixteen acts are playing on the day: Glenn Shorrock, Dragon, The Radiators, GANGgajang, Chocolate Starfish, Sean Kelly (Models), Christine Anu, Kids In The Kitchen, Uncanny X-Men, Mark Gable (Choirboys), Shane Howard (Goanna), Machinations, Allniters, Real Life, Wa Wa Nee and DV8.

We’re talking about hit songs like Sounds of Then (This Is Australia), My Island Home, Cool ChangeOut Of Mind Out Of SightBarbados, I Hear Motion, Run To Paradise, Solid RockEverybody Wants to Work, Pressure SwayMontego Bay, Send Me An Angel, Sugar Free and Darby St. Blues.

This boutique festival is as much about the food and the atmosphere as it is the music. This year the focus is on Japanese street food. Inspired by comfort food from areas like Hokkaido and Hiroshima, the festival will have alleys dedicated to regional specialties like miso ramen and okonomiyaki. 

There will also be food trucks, sweet treats, Hunt & Gather Markets and even an onsite cafe run by Lizotte’s in a garden-styled outdoor lounge setting.

Craft beer, wine, cider and artisan cocktails will be on offer at the 18+ event.

Live At The Foreshore is at Wickham Park on November 5. Gates open at 12.30pm with the last act finishing at 8pm. Tickets and information at liveattheforeshore.com.au.