Mental As Anything to play Folkie

PRIMED: Mental As Anything are on their way to the Port Fairy Folk Festival. Greedy Smith (front) said the band is keen for their Port Fairy debut.
PRIMED: Mental As Anything are on their way to the Port Fairy Folk Festival. Greedy Smith (front) said the band is keen for their Port Fairy debut.

AS a member of chart-topping Australian band Mental As Anything, Andrew ‘Greedy’ Smith was in the thick of the action as the pop/rock outfit conquered the musical world.

In the mid 1980s, Mental As Anything climbed into the top 20 on singles charts in countries such as Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK, Austria, Norway and Sweden.

Despite this leap into international stardom, Smith still clearly recalls playing at Warrnambol’s Lady Bay Hotel.

It was an experience the singer and keyboard player remembers fondly.

“The Lady Bay Hotel was a legendary venue, we loved it,” Smith said.

“Because it was coastal, you would get the local surfers and farmers plus all the tourists who were in town.

“You always felt coming to Warrnambool the gig was going to go right off like a bomb and of course it always did.”

Smith and Mental As Anything will be back in the south-west this weekend for the Port Fairy Folk Festival. 

While the band has never played the festival before, Smith has high expectations.

“As a band, we have been together for over 40 years and we haven’t got to play Port Fairy yet,” he said.

“It’s exciting to finally get the chance. I know a lot of people go to the festival and I’ve heard they really enjoy themselves. As a performer, it’s nice to know you are going to play to a very responsive audience.”

Mental As Anything formed in 1976 and have gone on to record 14 studio albums, including their latest, The Luckiest Player.

Smith said the band is keen to showcase songs from the new album but is also aware fans will want to hear their classic hits.

“Those big hits got us into the position we are now so it is nice to play them,” he said.

“It’s always good to throw in some new ones, it’s the next part of the adventure.

“And that’s what it is, the cycle in the music industry moves so fast. In the 80s, we made it to number three in the UK with Live It Up and we went there for a four-month tour.

“When we arrived, we were guests on Top of the Pops and we were a big deal.

“One of the last gigs before we left four months later, we were playing in Coventry to a small crowd with someone yelling out asking us what was happening in Neighbours, it changes quickly.”

While it is a demanding business, Smith said performing and recording remains a labour of love.

He said the Folkie is a commitment the band is looking forward to.

“We will play 120 shows this year so it is still pretty hectic,” he said.

“It will be nice to be in Port Fairy for two days, it will give us time to look around, it will be a nice handbrake.”