Rockbrat Remembers: When Whitecross Played Brookvale, Sydney in 1987

I was watching the NRL the other night (That’s National Rugby League for the uneducated) from Brookvale Oval, and as the camera disappointingly panned away from the Sea Eagles cheer leaders, over the grandstand, and I caught a glimpse of Pittwater Road and it transported me back to a gig I saw in Brookvale many years ago – 24 years to be exact. No, the venue was not the Brookvale Hotel, (I wonder if former Magpie, the late Dallas Donnelly drank here ? I know that Sweet Fanny Adams in the next suburb Dee Why was a drinking haunt of his) a venue where I saw several bands, but rather the eloquently named Christian City Church, a ‘venue’ I only graced once. Now before you start the character assassination of Cowboy Col, let me explain. Like many other metal heads in the mid 80’s, I was exposed to Christian metal, god rock, pure metal etc etc. As a metal head, I dug metal music, the message was secondary. I had albums by Ozzy, Onslaught, Enticer, AND Stryper. The premier God metal band were Stryper right, and they had more than their fair share of metal heads, Christian or not.  The fact that they Stryper, an international metal band, were prepared to tour Australia in 1987 when most others didn’t, meant that as a metal head, you went along. There seemed to be a spate of Christian promoters back then. So anyway, I must have read in the gig guide that another white metal band were also touring, and the fact that they were playing locally, well the decision was made. That band was Whitecross – who hailed from the windy city and formed in 1985. Vocalist Scott Wenzel and guitar maestro Rex Carroll were the mainstays of the band. Their early albums, including the first one, drew comparisons to Ratt, (albeit with pure lyrics) as they were laced with fast, technical guitar work. The bands’ debut album was released in September, 1987, so the tour must have not been long after that. I bought the band’s debut album on import from Utopia, and had to endure the indignation of being stared down by the heavy metal dinguses behind the counter for being a white metal album buying wimp. Imagine being subjected to that kind of crap? Putting money into their cash register – but in the cool stakes, Mr. None More Black and Mr. Metal Up His Ass are looking down their noses at me. Whatever.  The album had some great tracks, including, “Who Will You Follow”,  “Signs of the End”, and the great, “No Way I’m Goin’ Down”. Comparisons with Ratt are best left at musical only, for if the rodent ones were glam street kings of Hollywood in 84/85, Whitecross were at the other end of the horse – fashion victims extraordinaire. (Although from memory I was wearing a Stryper sweat shirt, red Chuck Taylors and a grey sports jacket, so I certainly can’t throw stones at the White Cross dudes for their fashion faux pas). I think Mr. Rockbrat has discussed the merits of the Whitecross wardrobe in other posts which makes it unnecessary to elaborate on that point further, so I’ll just stick to scribing a few words about the night in question. Looking back, it was an odd night. Kind of like an all ages thing. No alcohol. A broad cross section of Christians, the entire crowd sober, and no smell of hoochie cooch wafting overhead. Melbourne’s Rosanna Raider’s opened the night, and from memory they kicked ass. I’ve since picked up a couple of their albums and they indeed should have been bigger – but as Farrah Fawcett lookalike Robert Sweet once accurately pointed out, “God Is not popular in rock ‘n’ roll” – unless you’re Amy Grant (right Mr. Rockbrat?) Lightforce were also on the bill, but I can’t recall anything about them.  I remember that the kids in the room were lapping it all up, high on God, teenage hormones, Coca Cola and loud guitar based rock n roll. I remember the band throwing out one dollar bills into the crowd – which surprised me, as I’m sure the tour was financially sour. My thoughts were confirmed when I saw the tour manager next to me sweating profusely, his face the colour of a beetroot. It was quite a big crowd, the band played several of the tunes off their debut album, and everyone marvelled at the hair style and guitar wizardry of Rex Carroll. Here’s a ticket stub I found from the gig. Check out the audio for the song, ‘No Way I’m Goin’ Down’ here

One thought on “Rockbrat Remembers: When Whitecross Played Brookvale, Sydney in 1987

  1. I First saw them in 89 on their next Aussie tour.One of the best gigs I have ever been to.It was at a church up at Penrith with my mates band Sacred Rock supporting.

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