30 September, 2016. 15:06
ERROL PARKER | Editor-at-large | Contact
Now nearly 30 years since Powderfinger first appeared on stages and stadiums around Australia, Brisbane City Council has today unveiled a tribute to the River City rockers, one that will remain for many years to come.
The statue which was commissioned by the Queensland state government, depicts eighteen-metre high bronze reproduction of lead singer Bernard Fanning in the centre of New Farm Park.
Created by world renowned Brisbane sculptor Phillip Piperides, who made such masterpieces as the Lockyer statue, the Artie Beetson statue, and the other statue of Steve ‘The Pearl’ Renouf’s headgear
“I’ve never done a statue this big,” said Piperides.
“It was a big challenge,”
“but no different to how the ‘finger challenged the conventions of rock’n’roll.”
The reserve will be named Powderfinger Park – and will feature memorabilia and various dedications to the band from leaders and other famous musicians.
Speaking to the Betoota Advocate today, Bernard Fanning recalls growing up in the area had a real influence on the band’s “uniquely Brisbane” sound.
“If Brisbane could make a sound, it would sound like Powderfinger,” said Fanning.
“Everybody from Brisbane loves Powderfinger,”
“And Powderfinger loves everybody in Brisbane.”
Chairman of the official Powderfinger Fan Club Ashton Coffeey, says that even though his youth spent in Auckland made him fall in love with Scribe (feat. P Money), when he moved to Brisbane in 2003 – Powderfinger made him never want to leave.
“It’s an organic sound,”
“Indie bands like Tame Impala and Jet have tried to copy their formula and just fail. They failed miserably,”
“Nobody sounds like the ‘finger.”
Brisbane Mayor Graham Quirk, another die hard fan of ‘Bernie, says he had initially proposed erecting the statue in the iconic Vulture Street in South Brisbane, as a fitting tribute to the band’s multiplatinum album of the same name.
“Unfortunately I was overuled on that one by Nannastacia (QLD Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk)”
“She was the one that made the call to put the statue in New Farm park,”
“The state government said it would be a good idea to put some sort of a tourist hotspot near the Valley [Fortitude Valley] considering the new lock-out laws they have brought in to kill nightlife. A statue of Bernie is a good substitute for live music”
“I guess if you can’t drink rum and listen to Bernie past midnight, at least you can drink a flat white and look at the statue of him,”
Vulture Street was described by certain critics as “a rawer, louder, but homogenous” album that lacked an “x-factor” – but those people are wrong, according to reformed country music lover and XXXX Brewery worker, Harold Nijistic.
Mr Nijistic says that his life before discovering Powderfinger was unhappy.
“I used to be such a jerk to people,” said Nijistic.
“People used to say ‘why did you just say those horrible things to that guy?’ and I didn’t know. I think I used to blackout and turn really mean and not remember it,”
“Then I discovered Powderfinger one night while a few mates and I were pre-drinking in Centenary Place before a night out in The Valley,”
“I think it was ‘Sunsets’ I heard playing on the radio and I thought to myself ‘maybe I should start smiling more and stop being such a mean jerk’ and that was it,”
“I felt like a new person because their music is so happy and about smiling with your mates.” he said.
The influence of the River City’s favourite sons has been far and reaching, with the neighbouring suburbs of Milton and Kelvin Grove also planning memorial sites.
While the Australian cricket team has “Under the Southern Cross” as their team song they sing to celebrate a victory, one former Queensland Reds blindside flanker has revealed to The Advocate that when the union boys get up, they love to belt out a few ‘finger tracks.
“Yeah when we get up and have a big win, the boys love to sing ‘Baby, I Got You On My Mind’ at the top of their lungs,” said the red-headed Roman Catholic.
“It’s pretty fucking cool,”
“But sometimes, when we get towelled up by the ‘Tahs or the Blues, we like to scream out ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’ to signify that we miss that winning feeling,” he said.
“It’s a crazy time.”
The statue and memorial park will be officially opened this weekend by King Wally Lewis.
With additional reporting from AAP.
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