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Pulp is a student publication based at the University of Sydney.

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Nollsie’s Secret Show Was Spectacular, Ironic or Not

Nollsie’s Secret Show Was Spectacular, Ironic or Not

WORDS BY CAMERON CACCAMO

Cameron Caccamo has taken a whole week to recover from Nollsie's surprise O-Week gig...

Sometimes it is hard to tell where the ironic love for Australian Idol 2003 runner-up Shannon Noll ends, and the genuine enthusiasm begins. A resurgence in the “Noll was robbed” school of thought is overrunning Facebook, with multiple Pages dedicated to sharing memes about how the true blue singer is the best musical act out.

Naturally, when word spread that the now soul-patchless early 2000s icon would be playing a secret gig at the USU’s O-Week on Wednesday, the hype on campus lifted to dizzying new heights. Despite the reveal coming a mere four hours before the show, hundreds of students rallied before the Main Stage on the Front Lawns just to for a glimpse of their childhood hero.

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Before the gig, students telling their friends about the upcoming show were met with incredulity and “naaaaaaah m8” - and there was of course, an expectation that it’d all turn out to be one big lie (or at least that it would be a bait-and-switch, with some other shit performer, perhaps Guy Sebastian, taking the stage). Nonetheless, it was hard to ignore the huge buzz Nollsie was generating on campus.


The up-and-coming Banter and Meme Society eagerly cashed in on the Nollsie zeitgeist, temporarily adding a makeshift poster to their stall, renaming themselves “The Shannon Noll Appreciation Society”. The sign-up queue was huge.

When Noll finally took to the stage at 12.30, his entrance was met with a roar reminiscent of a State of Origin touchdown. If the meme-fuelled outpouring of love for Shannon Noll was/is elaborate performance art, no one ever told the students in attendance; they knew the words to almost every song and sang along to them just as much heart as the star himself. Dozens of phones centred on Noll. And with the occasional pan from the stage to the screaming crowds,  great Snapchat Stories were captured, so that even the friends who mistakenly believed Sebastian deserved his 2003 win were forced to appreciate Nollsie’s presence on campus.

And it was then and there, with Nollsie live on the stage, that any claim that this was an ironic love peeled away - it became clear that even without the memes and jokes surrounding the Noll phenomenon, he’s still got it. Indeed, by every measure, Noll shouldn’t be popular with University students; he was a runner-up in a show designed to give artists 5 minutes of fame 13 years ago - the average audience member would have been 5 years old during his first rise to fame. But here, hundreds of students cheered for the songs they did know, listened intently for the ones they didn’t, and gave Shannon all the love and respect you would show at a gig you’ve paid for.

Well, mostly. It was quite clear what the audience wanted most; some of them started singing ‘What About Me’ in between each song, demanding that Nollsie sing the yet-to-be-made-official National Anthem. When he finally obliged, the crowds rushed towards the stage to create a the biggest mosh-pit to grace OWeek in living memory. Of course, he also played all of his other classics, including ‘Drive’, ‘Lift’, and ‘Loud’, as well as a new track from an upcoming album called ‘Breath of Life’.

Yep, an upcoming album, later this year. If you had a surge in popularity, seemingly out of nowhere, wouldn’t you give the fans what they want too?

Of course he delivered on that in spades during the secret show too, with a bonus encore song and a couple of jokes for those who were still emotionally damaged from his loss in 2003 - “I always come second, just ask me missus”.

As they returned to the rest of OWeek, sunburnt but exhilarated, students wondered aloud whether the University year had peaked there and then. If that isn’t an indication that the Noll love is real, then nothing will be.

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