RocKwiz Salutes Adelaide

RocKwiz Salutes Adelaide was a tribute to the Festival Theatre which was opened fifty years ago. As a  50th birthday present it was a wonderful gift, a celebration of musicians, especially those from South Australia, who had performed in our city’s theatre and been an integral part of the music culture. 

It was also an absolute hoot. I laughed from start to finish, and I was not alone. 

Brian Nankeveris, co-host on SBS of RockWiz started the evening prancing about like genial magician, cajoling, encouraging and warming an audience which was already primed to enjoy the show., as he set about choosing the contestants. He absolutely set the scene for the evening.

Explained in a nutshell, there are two teams, selected by a rigorous and exhaustive examination of random people dragged off the streets, to test their knowledge of music, musicians and bands. The resulting teams end up with the two who passed the tests plus a celebrity artist, although one team had Ann Wills as a member and she was hardly a random choice. The celebrity members on the teams were actually the ‘surprise’ singers whose names may have been a secret but whose singing abilities were no surprise at all. Jess Hatchcock, David Campbell and John Schuman  have established careers, sang up a storm and added class to the evening 

Having settled on the two competing teams Julia Zemiro took over as host. Julia has shown she can act, sing, talk French, and co-host a show. She was delightful, guiding  the quiz along its very merry way, never lost for words nor nonplussed by proceedings. 

The initial question that she asked was ‘what was the first show you ever saw’ which brought some interesting answers. Bananas in Pyjamas, to the Blackfriars’ Prefect’s School Dance, and Rolling Stones were among the responses. That being established the serious questions began concerning song titles, lyrics, who did what, when, and why, and so it went.

Songs  included  the serious ‘I was only nineteen’ sung by John Schuman from Red Gum,  to a rousing  Cold Chisel number Saturday Night, sung by the entire audience at the end, and in between ‘I’ve Been to Bali too’ and ‘She keeps no Fixed Address’ .

Full marks to the band : Peter Luscombe drums, Bill McDonald Bass, Clio Renner, keyboard and Olympia, lead guitar. They did a fantastic job. The lighting was impressive, the set, simple but it worked. 

The competition between the teams was intense, with the lead passing from one to the other until the final count down gave first place to one, by a small margin. Nobody really cared.

Special mention of the substitute  Dugald who pivoted about the stage in high drama, to reveal the scores. He can leave his day job!

So many there were, revelling in memories of the music that they had loved over many years. They were laughing, singing and clapping along. The mere mention of Sister Janet Mead brought half the audience to  begin singng Our Father, much to Julia’s mock consternation. 

RocKwiz was its own tribute, as well, to Cabaret. A shame there was only one performance.

Emily Sutherland

Adelaide Cabaret Festival 

17 June.

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