Celebrating a half-century of Mushroom Records, the heart of Australian music, the 50th-anniversary concert at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena on Sunday night was a testament to the label’s monumental influence and the enduring legacy of the late Michael Gudinski. The star-studded lineup featured an array of Australian musical icons, delivering an unforgettable evening of nostalgia, tribute, and outstanding performances.
Kicking off the night was the powerhouse Jimmy Barnes, setting the stage on fire with his electrifying energy. He was followed by an array of Australia’s best, including Vika & Linda, Missy Higgins, DMA’S, Paul Kelly, The Rubens and The Temper Trap. Each act performed at least two songs, with some covering Aussie classics as well as playing originals. The fifty songs that were played across the span of the four-and-a-half-hour show made up the ultimate Aussie soundtrack and were an ode to the last fifty years of Australian music.
Introduced by Briggs, surprise act Yothu Yindi stunned the crowd with their infectiously joyful and highly energetic performance of “Djapana” and their 1991 hit, “Treaty”. Another notable performance was Dan Sultan, who received a standing ovation with his heartfelt rendition of “Took The Children Away” by Archie Roach, which left the audience in complete silence and awe.
The event was smoothly orchestrated, with seamless transitions between acts, allowing the audience to bask in the history and evolution of Mushroom Records. Presenters including Andy Lee, Myf Warhurst, Asher Keddie, and others added depth by sharing anecdotes and personal reflections, enhancing the nostalgic journey through the label’s rich history.
There was a bittersweet nostalgia in the air as presenters and performers shared their tales of the late Michael Gudinski, and it was apparent that the influence that Michael and Mushroom Records has had on the Australian entertainment industry was incomparable. The evening truly felt like the perfect celebration of everything that Michael worked so hard to create, and it was clear that the future of Mushroom Records is in perfect hands, with his son Matt Gudinski now at the helm of the label as CEO.
However, amidst the evening’s brilliance, there was a notable moment of disappointment. Amy Shark‘s abbreviated appearance left fans yearning for more, as she rushed through a cover of Kylie Minogue‘s “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head.” Shark’s brief set certainly left us wanting more.
It wouldn’t be a Mushroom Records event without showcasing new talent, and towards the end of the show we were treated to performances from the label’s newest recruits, and kicking these off was Logan, introduced by Matt Gudinski himself. Logan’s performance of his song “Famous” was absolutely riveting. His energy was nothing short of mesmerising and his dance moves impressive. He had the crowd out of their seats and dancing, and no doubt won himself thousands of fans as a result. Merci, Mercy performed a beautiful rendition of Vance Joy‘s “Riptide” and absolutely wowed the audience with her out of this world vocals, and won over their hearts with her quirky and sweet stage presence. New talent Wilsn had jaws on the floor with her cover of Renee Geyer‘s Heading In The Right Direction, and Gordi had heads turning over to the B stage for her rendition of Split Enz‘s Message To My Girl. Overall, an extremely impressive catalogue of new artists to watch!
The night reached its pinnacle with an unexpected and stirring cameo by global superstar Ed Sheeran. His profound friendship with Michael was evident as he joined in (pre-recorded of course) for a rendition of Hunters and Collectors‘ “Throw Your Arms Around Me,” while lead singer Mark Seymour sang the other verses live. Sheeran’s presence added a poignant touch, honouring the spirit and impact of Gudinski on the global music scene. The rest of the band joined Seymour on stage for their 1992 hit Holy Grail, closing out the night with a bang.
Amidst the emotions that swirled in the arena, it was palpable that the spirit of Mushroom Records, nurtured by Michael’s unwavering dedication, lives on. The concert wasn’t just a commemoration; it was a testament to the enduring power of music—a celebration of a man whose vision shaped a nation’s musical identity. As the final echoes of the night faded into the Melbourne skyline, one couldn’t help but feel a profound sense of gratitude for the past, reverence for the present, and hopeful anticipation for the future of Mushroom Records under the capable stewardship of Matt Gudinski. The evening was not just a concert; it was a tribute—an ode to an unparalleled legacy that will continue to reverberate through the annals of Australian music history.