I'm afraid to admit, but as a family we've never been the greatest fans of the Wiggles. I can't really explain why we've not bought into them, as they're pretty much unavoidable as a phenomenon. What makes our ambivalence towards them even worse is that we've got a friend in Canberra who has toured with them as a sound engineer.
The band's endorsements stretch across umpteen products in the supermarket, they have sold a staggering 17 million DVDs and 4 million CDs worldwide and have a couple of entertainment theme parks in Australia and the US (with more to follow). In 2009 they made $45 million and have been Australia's top earning entertainers for 4 years in a row. They're huge in the US, UK and in fact throughout the world.
Remarkably the success grew out of a defunct one-hit band called the Cockroaches and a couple of members of the band started their careers as teachers, progressing(?) into busking in Sydney's circular quay. Many of the kids that grew up watching their early career have now got children of their own.
They arrived in Canberra tonight as part of the Australia Day celebrations, and their own 20 year 'birthday party'. They were amongst the main attractions at a free concert to see them on the lawns of Parliament House. It was pretty big news really (especially for 2 certain children under 4) and their parents who had always resented paying out the big bucks required to go and see them at previous opportunities.
The night began with the Australian of the year awards (which the vast majority of the crowd shunned) but then at 7.15pm on the dot the Wiggles arrived on stage.
We'd got there pretty early to ensure our spot near the front and both Audrey and Eli had waited exceptionally patiently for the show to begin.
The 45 minute show was wonderful.
The Wiggles are absolutely non-stop on stage and even though both Amy and I commented that Murray (the red Wiggle) is looking decidedly decrepit after 20 years on the road the kids loved it. Their show is really action packed and they really involve the children. Even though we don't own any of their CDs somehow we knew a lot of their music (by osmosis?) and it was great to watch Audrey toe tapping and clapping along.
I'm not sure whether following our experience we're going to rush out and equip ourselves with a mass of Wiggles merchandise and then jet off to Wiggles World, but both Amy and I agreed that the frowns we had once reserved for Murray, Anthony, Jeff and Sam/Greg had been entirely misplaced. Toot Toot, Chugga Chugga Big Red car, sign me up for the Wiggles fan club!