OUT of all the classic rock bands from the 1970s, AC/DC were one of the few admired by the punk and new wave movement.
By the mid 70s, rock music had became grandiose and artists more aloof as they donned extravagant costumes and played longer guitar solos and bigger venues, giving birth to stadium rock.
But AC/DC never wavered, continuing with their stripped down rock ’n’ roll and unpretentious approach.
So it’s no surprise that Fremantle singer/guitarist Dom Mariani – who burst onto the scene as frontman of punk-garage band The Stems in the early 80s – is a fan of AC/DC.
“It was the favoured soundtrack of the suburban hoon doing laps around Fremantle in the late 70’s and early 80’s in their hotted-up Holden or Falcon,” Mariani says.
“I was a fan from the moment I saw them play Baby Please Don’t Go on Countdown.
“They were the antithesis to Sherbert (who I didn’t mind) and Air Supply, but Bon Scott had a cheekiness and stage persona that was instantly appealing.”
Mariani is busy rehearsing with his latest band, the critically acclaimed Datura4, for the Bon Scott-inspired High Voltage festival in Fremantle.
Since forming in 2009, Datura4 have released four albums, wowing fans and critics with their heady mix of blues and psychedelic rock.
Songs like Neanderthal Jam have all the musicianship of classic rock, but with a modern twist and catchy hooks.
“I would say Datura4 is my favourite of all the bands that I’ve put together because it satisfies and fuses all of my rock and roll influences and guilty pleasures in rock,” Mariani says.
“It may have taken me awhile to get back there, but I’d describe it as an open slather of hard rock, heavy blues and psychedelic rock which goes back to my earliest influences as a teenage high-school rocker growing up in Fremantle.
“I’ve been lucky and I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed all my previous bands from The Stems to DM3 and The Someloves to The Majestic Kelp.”
The High Voltage festival was inspired by the successful Highway to Hell in 2020, which commemorated the 40th anniversary of Bon Scott’s death with tribute bands playing throughout Greater Fremantle and on trucks barrelling down the Canning Highway (the original ‘Highway to Hell’).
This time the festival has been expanded with a wider variety of bands at Fremantle Oval, Wilson Park and Esplanade Reserve, as well as bands playing on trucks as they do 5km bog laps of the CBD and South Fremantle.
The Oval zone will be more geared towards kids while the Esplanade features the most bands including Katy Steele, Dan Sultan, The Southern River Band, DIESEL and Natalie Gillespie.
It’s hoped the festival will become an annual event and bolster Fremantle’s reputation as a hub for music, culture and arts.
64-year-old Mariani, who has lived in the port city most of his life, says Freo is a bit special with a European flavour.
“My parents were Italian immigrants who came out on passenger ships in the mid-fifties to start a better life as did so many others,” he says. “Growing up in Fremantle was the best thing that my folks could have done for us. There was a very European flavour growing up in the port city, which has diminished somewhat over the years, but I do love living in Fremantle and being near the ocean with all it has to offer.”
Datura4 are playing Wilson Park at around 1pm as part of the High Voltage Festival on Sunday May 7 from 1pm-6pm. For the full line up and more details see highvoltagewa.com.au
by STEPHEN POLLOCK