Wiggles finale upsetting for big kids

JASON BLAKE
Last updated 05:00 25/12/2012
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ROMP-BOMP-A-CHOMP! The original Wiggles bow out at the Entertainment Centre on Sunday afternoon before their reinvention with three new members.

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Young children are the least sentimental fans. Either you're there and available for them, or you're not. There's no such thing as nostalgia for the under fives.

One little girl was escorted into the seat next to me with her eyes closed. This was a surprise. ''Now you can open them!'' she was told. ''Where are you?''

The girl looked around. ''Er … the movies?'' Kids don't have much sense of occasion, either.

It's different for parents. Anyone who brought kids into the world from the early 1990s onwards will likely have The Wiggles and their songbook burned into their brains. Not surprisingly, Sunday's final live show by the group's founders, Greg Page (Yellow, 40), Jeff Fatt (Purple, 59), Murray Cook (Red, 52) and Anthony Field (Blue, 49), took on a wistful hue.

After more than 7000 shows (more than 50 of them in the Sydney Entertainment Centre, itself about to be pensioned off), you might expect some self-indulgence but for the first half of the gig at least, The Wiggles Celebration maintained a disciplined, professional face that only gradually broke down as the love in the room became obvious.

By the end, the emotion on stage was palpable and despite stories hinting at the contrary, so was the affection between old bandmates.

Shout-outs were made: to former Wiggles dancers, many of whom were in the audience; to friends of the Wiggly empire, and to children, now in their teens and twenties, who have appeared in the Wiggles DVDs.

No reference was made to Sam Moran (save for appearances in a medley of old clips), who replaced the ailing Page in the group from late 2006 until January this year.

It seemed churlish not to acknowledge a performer who spent six years in the yellow skivvy. Even now, the Wiggles are struggling to get the spin right on this episode.

This finale was also the soft launch for Emma Watkins, Lachlan Gillespie and Simon Pryce, who will join Field on stage as new Wiggles from this point on.

They are three adept performers though their obvious professionalism had a slightly chilling effect on those accustomed to the homespun antics of their predecessors.

It's usual for people to start dashing for the exits five minutes before the end of a Wiggles show, just to beat the pram jam. Almost everyone stayed this time, and they were treated to a little bit of history - an encore.

For once, there were tears before bedtime from the grown-ups, too.

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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