On 1 April , 1977, 6UWA became the first FM radio station in WA, eventually becoming RTRFM.
We’ve been celebrating the fact through the year, all culminating with The Big 40: A celebration on RTRFM’s past, present and future.
On Sunday, 19 November, over 950 people filled the Perth Concert Hall for an eclectic, multi-stage event that boasted one-off collaborations and specially curated performances.
Gina Williams and Guy Ghouse started proceedings in the Hall, with stories and stirring songs in Noongar language.
Post rock lords Mt Mountain played their album 'Dust' in full, complete with stunning visuals of the Australian outback and guest musicians it was a performance that filled every corner and crack of the Concert Hall.
Out in the late-spring sunshine, The Veranda Stage featured the infectious grooves of Grace Barbe Afro Kreole, Red Jezabel played their seminal album 'Revelations' as well as Perth’s king of Blues Rick Steele and infamous party starters The Sunshine Brothers.
Tura New Music and Difficult Listening presented a stage of Perth musicians that specialise in the new, weird and esoteric that echoed through the foyer, equally challenging and delighting punters.
Long-time Perth faves Adam Said Galore reunited on the Concert Hall stage (finally!), WA’s hip hop pioneers Downsyde took over the Hall with special guests including a string section, and Abbe May teamed up with WAYJO for a re-imagining of her impressive back catalogue and tracks from her highly anticipated forthcoming album.
Odette Mercy and the Soul Atomics are a musical powerhouse, their Big 40 performance was taken to a new high with the addition of Mercy’s family in the form of a 30-piece Tongan choir.
Named for the classic Jebediah album, The Slightly Oddway Orchestra was created in the context of much loved 'Breakfast with Caitlin' segment - featuring West Australian musicians covering West Australian songs. They closed the veranda stage with four groups of WA musicians playing local tracks that have been all over the RTRFM airwaves in 2017.
It’s indicative of how close-knit the WA music scene is when members of these bands are in the audience, singing along to each other’s songs.
The night closed back in the Hall with RTRFM: A Musical History. An audio visual experience put together by Chris Wheeldon, Davey Craddock, Stephen Aaron Hughes and Timothy Nelson among many others.
The story of the station played out on the screen, with photos, animation and historical video and audio from our archives, studded with songs that have defined the sound of RTRFM over the years, performed by musicians that have become a firm part of the RTRFM family.
The performance clearly included a heavy hit of nostalgia for the crew that filled the Concert Hall, as exclamations of recollection and joy from the audience around the Hall became a part of the performance. If you missed it, head to RTRFM's Facebook page to watch RTRFM: A Musical History.
Thank you to all the amazing volunteers, musicians and audiences that not only made The Big 40 something truly special, but have also supported RTRFM over the last four decades.
Our 40th year may be coming to a close, but the good will and community spirit it generated will undoubtedly carry us through the next 40 years.
*Please note that working for RTRFM gives me a disproportionate love for these people, bands and the event in general. This is a highly subjective review of an event that I helped create.