The Bats

Live In Australia, August 2001

News clipping

To begin my story, the Tri-Nations game between the Springboks and Wallabies has just finished here in Perth.I must admit that I am almost relieved it was draw. After having lived over here for 20 years and being a citizen and all that,my loyalties usually lie with Aussie sporting teams, but I am never disappointed if the "old country" wins. There is a rugby club on the Swan River, south of Perth called Palmyra, which has been a venue for the Boks to practicewhilst on tour. They usually organise some sort of entertainment for their supporters.This time they managed to coax The Bats and comedian Derek Gordon to fly to Perth and put on a few shows.I was fortunate (and clever) enough to purchase some tickets and attend their first show on Thursday night with a group of ex South Africans.

At a rough guess, I would say there were close to 400 people there, which is good turnout for a Thursday night.The Castle Lager and boerewors rolls were flowing freely when we arrived. I ran into Eddie Eckstein and Paul Ditchfield after arriving and had a quick chat. Eddie is not a stranger to Australia - I met him in Sydney in 1982 when he was a temporary resident and did a few comedy shows and television commercials over there. He was telling me how time marches on and that most of them were in their 60's.The show started with Derek Gordon, and within minutes he had the whole room screaming with laughter. After establishing thatabout 90% of the crowd were indeed ex-South Africans, he proceeded to let rip with an assortment of jokes full of South Africanslang. Some Aussies in the audience seemed to laugh even louder than the Jaapies!

When The Bats took over the stage, they were just as warm and wonderful as I remember them over 20 years ago.The three original members were there, Eddie, Paul and Pete Clifford, but it was sad to see the absence of Barry Jarman, who passed away only six weeks ago (read a tribute to Barry here...). His replacement, Derek, (the baby of the band at age 52) was in true Bats tradition, a total clown and versatile multi-instrumental musician (or mental musician??). They mentioned on stage that Pete Clifford had been Dusty Springfield's guitarist before he emigrated to South Africa in 1964.

The songs were all there - All I Got, The Rock Machine, Groen en Goud, Weltevrede, Shabby Little Hut and many new ones about Hansie Cronje and the state of the New South Africa. I was amazed at the stamina of these guys - they put on a long, long show which ended at almost midnight. They said they had broken up in 1982 so that means they haven't played together for almost 20years! They still all handled their instruments with ease, and had a certain tightness that many young groups would be envious of.Eddie as usual, did his brilliant stand-up routines with his Japanese/ Indian/ Chinese/ African accents.I hope The Bats will come back again, even if we have to install wheelchair ramps for them.

A good night was had by all!!

Rob Williams, 18 August 2001

Musicians:

  • Eddie Eckstein: vocals, drums
  • Paul Ditchfield: vocals, keyboards, guitars, bass
  • Pete Clifford: vocals, guitar
  • Derek Gordon: vocals, various instruments

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