Fans are advised to ‘never meet your heroes’ so I worried a little about seeing RocKwiz live; would it seem too staged? Too slow and long-winded?
Instead the now-traditional RocKwiz Really, Really Good Friday show took the entertainment to the next level, with a delightfully casual approach to creates laidback brilliance and a tangible rapport between guests, hosts and audience. All 2,500 of them.
The format is slightly different to the much-loved music trivia show, which has been aired by SBS since 2005. The size of the venue – several times larger than the back room of St Kilda’s Espy pub – creates obvious logistical differences. Instead of testing the audience on their musical knowledge to choose contestants, six people were picked at random. When this led to some minor confusion – and an extra person – host Brian Nankervis simply got him to sit on the bandstand.
Instead of music trivia the half dozen are asked for their childhood memories of Good Friday – most of which are so boring that the RocKwiz team’s idea of staging an event makes wonderful sense.
The show started as part of RocKwiz’s national tour while the team was in Byron Bay, and a move to Melbourne came last year. Because it falls in the middle of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, two of the guests are comics, although both Anne Edmonds and David O’Doherty kick off with their own brand of musical comedy; both hilarious.
Having a random teenager from the crowd in Dugald McAndrew’s roadie-cum-rouseabout role – and dressed in a bunny suit – created another level of comedic chaos.
One constant is quizmaster Julia Zemiro’s quick-fire wit, which is such an integral part of the show’s charm. She rarely misses a beat. Turns out April 14 is also her birthday, so that was marked in style, too.
It takes nearly an hour of music and silliness for all six guests to gradually replace the audience – in a break from tradition of mystery musos, Mick Thomas, Kylie Auldist, Billy Bragg and Kate Ceberano were announced beforehand – and there are far more musical interludes than normal between segments.
The famous RocKwiz Orkestra – Peter Luscome, Mark Ferrie and Ashley Naylor, plus original keyboardist James Black – are on fire as always, and key vocals were supplied by Hailey Cramer instead of Vika and Linda Bull.
Finally, after an interval, the quiz itself kicks off and it’s obvious that whatever’s been happening out in the green room has oiled the crew’s comic reflexes, if not their memories.
With a nod to Good Friday, there is of course a bit of a theme, although: “There’ll be no Christopher Cross or Nine Inch Nails,” promises Zemiro. And no references to meat.
Instead Cramer sets the tone with a lovely gospel version of Bridge over Troubled Water, Bragg and Ceberano share a duet for the Cure classic Friday I’m in Love, Bragg teams up with Thomas for the glorious Midnight Special and Ceberano, Cramer and Auldist team up for To Know Him is to Love Him.
It’s such a fun night out and it sells out every year so get in early for tickets. Especially after Zemiro revealed this week that SBS may ‘rest’ the show in 2017; demand may be even higher in 2018.
In the meantime you can get your RocKwiz fix via the tour of regional Australia, which runs from June 9 to July 29.
Arts Centre Melbourne and Renegade present
RocKwiz Live! Another Really, Really Good Friday
Venue: Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne
Date: 14 April 2017
Tickets: $30 – $149
On tour from June 9 (Ballarat) to July 29 (Perth), stopping all regional stations in between