In 1984, St Kilda is the heart and soul of Melbourne’s thriving music scene. Joel Reed, a brilliant young guitarist and songwriter, had followed his sister Karen to the bohemian beachside suburb to chase his dream of becoming a rock star. On the surface, it seems like Joel has got it all together. He’s in an up-and-coming rock ‘n’ roll band and is surrounded by people who want to see him succeed. However, he is also a high-functioning heroin addict and closet homosexual. Desperately lonely and dangerously self-destructive, he lives a carefully constructed lie lest he be discovered, outed and shunned by the city’s legion of hard rock fans.
When the band is forced to audition for a new frontman, Joel’s world is turned upside down. Harry Engel, the offbeat and disarmingly charismatic vocalist, rocks up to audition and Joel falls in love, but there’s no way he can tell Harry how he feels. He can’t do anything to jeopardise the band’s success and so he continues living the lie – until tragedy strikes and he realises the lie was never going to save them.
I was completely drawn into the story of Joel, founding member and guitarist in a band which is trying to secure a recording contract in the early 1980’s. Joel is also a heroin addict and closet homosexual in an era when it was still stigmatised. He knows that for the band to have any chance of success he can’t be outed as gay, but he’s drawn to the band’s new charismatic and talented front man, Harry Engels.
The music scene and the struggles of the band drip with authenticity. I can’t comment on the drug usage but it certainly seemed authentic too. The ups and downs of Joel and the band and his long-suffering but dedicated sister, Karen, who is also the band’s manager, absolutely hooked me.
I was rooting for this band and every step of the way!