RocKwiz Live Salutes The ARIA Hall Of Fame

RocKwiz Live Salutes The ARIA Hall Of Fame

A spectacular Friday evening sunset beckons the RocKwiz faithful once more to the doors of the Palais – with the promise of a great night’s entertainment. Tonight, the second of two sold-out Melbourne shows, the RocKwiz team are treading the boards once again – this time celebrating the Aria Hall of Fame.

Brian Nankervis spruiks his way through the crowd outside the theatre and is immediately inundated with fans wanting selfies – but he’s an old pro and he's well prepared for such eventualities, improvising with his 'anti-selfie megaphone’… which makes it impossible to get a satisfactory photograph of his face!

RocKwiz Live Salutes The ARIA Hall Of Fame

He’s here to solicit suitable contestants for the show tonight. People are at once shy, and then after seeing others take up the challenge and realising that’s the reason they are all here, begin to muster. The questions are fairly hard and you need to get four in a row to be selected.

The Palais Theatre is packed tonight after last night’s much publicised appearance by a freshly reformed Skyhooks with Ross Wilson fronting in the late great Shirley Strachan's absence. Although nothing of that magnitude has been publicised, punters are keen to see what tonight’s show has in store. Nankervis warms up the audience by inviting a few dozen of the keenest audience members onto the stage to do some impromptu Sharpie dancing to AC/DC's 'High Voltage Rock n Roll'. After a few minutes of some very gutsy dancing, the winner walks away victorious with his very own RocKwiz tea towel.

RocKwiz Live Salutes The ARIA Hall Of Fame

It's now time to pick the contestants for the evening... 24 large yellow Rockwiz Wildcards have been placed randomly under seats and those people are now invited to try their skill... together with the five selected outside before the show, they are all invited to come up on stage for a four round shoot out to find our top four rocKwiz brainiacs. It's a fun quick process and Nankervis makes everyone feel very comfortable under the spotlight. After the formalities of introductions of cast and victorious contestants, it’s onto business as usual and tonight's first special guest is up. It's none other than triple j favourite, Olympia who’s just about to release her debut album. Rocking a platinum bob and dressed in a spacey electric blue spangly outfit, she choses to perform a faithful rendition of Icehouse’s ‘We Can Get Together’. Powerful backed by the faithful RocKwiz orchestra, she blitzes the song.

Next guest is the legendary solo artist Brian Cadd best known in Aria history as a member of The Groop, Axiom and Bootleg Family Band. He playfully saunters on stage to perform his classic 'Ginger Man'. As he sits alone, centre stage under the sole spotlight at the keyboard, his voice is still as strong and evocative as ever – absolutely captivating. As I watch everyone on stage I notice they are all riveted. It’s easy to see from this inspired performance why he is so adored here.

After his performance, he joins the other contestants and reminisces about being involved in the recording of ‘The Real Thing’ with Molly Meldrum, Russell Morris and Johnny Young. When asked by Zemero about what it was like to be in that room, Cadd confesses it was terrible! Apparently Molly could never call a halt to the creative process, always thinking of new things to add to the mix... Just when everyone thought it couldn't be improved upon, he was asked by Molly to do a Nazi/dictatorial voice on the outro of the track. When he asked what he should read or sing in that requested "Dictatorial voice” he said Molly handed him an old BASF tape box that was hanging around in the studio and told him to read the guarantee off the back of it. Listen carefully and you might just catch it.

RocKwiz Live Salutes The ARIA Hall Of Fame

Julia Zemiro apparently has been taking voice lessons and in the absence of ARIA award winner Olivia Newton-John, she surprises the audience by taking the microphone and rocking a very worthy version of 'Let Me Be There'. During the song, she playfuly teases one of the contestants, Brad, who is on workers compensation... Luckily Brad is very good natured about it and plays along!

A question about Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds' 'The Ship Song' prompts an introduction to Denis Walter who is here tonight to reprise what he refers to as his Triple J Hit Pick. The song certainly suits his baritone voice but as wonderful as it is, seeing him neatly presented in his brown jacket, I can’t help having a few ‘Carols by Candlelight’ flashbacks. But, even being as seasoned a performer as he is, it seems that even Denis is thrilled and humbled by the invitation to perform at RocKwiz...It's obviously a big deal for him, as I discover later that he even has his very own cameraman documenting the performance from the audience!

Certainly one the highlights of the evening follows as Vika Bull steps up to plate and delivers a scorching rendition of AC/DC’s tribute to Bon Scott: 'Back In Black’. She absolutely nails Brian Johnson’s lyric and it is nothing short of incendiary. As Zemero quite rightly questions at the song's end, "Where DOES she get the energy???"

RocKwiz Live Salutes The ARIA Hall Of Fame

Davey Lane from You Am I, a personal friend of the late great frontman of The Masters Apprentices Jim Keays, pays tribute to his pal in the form of his sublime cover of ‘Because I Love You’. Solo acoustic at first and then the band (and audience) kick in on the chorus’s of "Do what you wanna do, be what you wanna be - yeah". It is a really uplifting moment and you can sense the affection he has for the man in his performance. Another standout.

Later in the show, Zemero welcomes the ‘magnificent, word-perfect, fucking amazing' Kate Ceberano, who delights in pointing out to the audience that she’s still relishing wearing those unsuitable sandals – ”Who’s gonna be the boss of what woman wear?”. She chooses to perform Renee Geyer’s ‘Heading in the Right Direction” and brings all the sensitivity and gorgeous nuance of Renee's original to her rendition.

RocKwiz Live Salutes The ARIA Hall Of Fame

As she joins the panel briefly for some questions and banter, we inevitably hear all about the Grand Final debacle, but the difference is tonight we hear her spin on it, as she puts everything into personal context. While she admits it’s been a ’shit week’ and that she’ll never put herself in that position again, she also resolutely states that she was so taken by that moment on a personal level (her Dad’s ashes were scattered on the Hawthorn Football club grounds) that it’s a moment that no amount of media nonsense can ever take away from her.

RocKwiz Live Salutes The ARIA Hall Of Fame

It’s nearly stumps time and the scores are tied. Davey Lane brings it home for his team with the answer to a tie-breaker question and then returns to the stage once more with Olympia to make a little bit of history – duetting on ARIA award winner Split Enz’s 'History Never Repeats', which is then rounded out in spectacular style by a full cast rendition of Johnny O’Keefe’s 'Shout!'.

Overall, an extremely entertaining evening out, made all the more memorable by the razor-sharp repartee and witticisms of Nankervis, Zemiro and contestants. The Melbourne crowds are obviously well aware of just what a great a night of entertainment an evening at RocKwiz promises… when tickets went on sale, both local shows sold out in just days. Although I’m sure it’s bloody hard work pulling together a show like this with an ever-changing lineup of talent, the RocKwiz team demonstrated once again they are consummate professionals, making it look effortless as they maintain the flow and pace through the different segments of the show.

Special mention must also be made of the ever-brilliant RocKwiz Orchestra of Peter 'Lucky' Luscombe (Drums), James Black (Keys, Guitar) and Mark Ferrie (Bass) which has now been augmented by Ash Naylor ('the man who can play any song in the world' on second guitar. All consumate professionals – between them they can arguably claim more flying hours than any other musicians in the country – they bless every RocKwiz performance with the heartbeat of aural authenticity and can be relied on by Zemiro and Nankervis to roll with any curve ball request that is thrown at them...

My one regret? I just wish I’d made it to the previous night as well. Skyhooks reformed would indeed have been something to see. RocKwiz is currently touring the show around Australia, so if they come your way and you get the opportunity to grab a ticket, more your luck. It's a brilliant show with an ever-changing lineup of Aria-award winning musicians guesting, so if you go, you never know who you might see! Highly recommended.

RocKwiz Live Salutes The ARIA Hall Of Fame

Source: YouTube from maccak

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