Normally filmed at the Espy in St Kilda, RocKwiz Live! was free from studio constraints and had more of an improvisational feel.
As usual, Julia Zemiro, Brian Nankervis and the team led the night with all the manic fun we’ve come to expect from the revered quiz show.
Warming up an absolutely jam-packed crowd with the standard contestant selection process, Brian Nankervis treated us to the (un)official RocKwiz anthem; an audience sing-along Gregorian chant, no less.
Even the heavens opening and a slight delay would not dampen the good spirits of everyone there. After the 18 potential contestants were whittled down to 4, the RocKwiz Orchestra introduced Julia Zemiro with Led Zeppelin’s, ‘Whole Lotta Love’ to wild applause.
Love was definitely the theme of the night, with plenty of Barry White over the speakers and every guest performing a love song of some shape or form.
Continuing her run of recent success with a critically acclaimed debut album, I Love You Like a Brother (featuring 2 songs in this year’s Triple J’s Hottest 100), Alex Lahey was the first guest performer while Geelong local (same high school as Stu Mackenzie from King Gizzard) and Courtney Barnett label mate, Fraser A Gorman was the other guest.
As an added bonus, You Am I’s, Tim Rogers and the legendary (and RocKwiz regular) Australian-Canadian singer, Wendy Matthews came on as the second set of special guests.
Of course, the contestants were far more knowledgeable than their star team captains (or maybe just quicker on the buzzers) and sometimes just as entertaining. Edinburgh local, Jamie, nailed Mick Jagger with a pretty spot on impersonation. There was also an all in James Brown dance-off for good measure.
The twists kept coming with two moments of amazing coincidence. Alex Lahey’s first performance was Shania Twain’s, ‘You’re Still the One’, of which Fraser A Gorman was quick to point out ST was his first concert in 1999 as an 8-year-old. Wendy Matthews and another contestant named Wendy also shared the same first concert, in Elton John (not the same year, mind you, that would’ve been a little freaky…)
Jamie had the most enviable first concert experience though: seeing the Clash in Edinburgh post-London Calling (revealed to a gasping audience).
Throughout, Julia Zemiro was charming and funny in equal measure, as she always is. The French-born TV presenter (and Brian Nankervis too, for that matter) has a knack of playfully having a dig at the contestants and causing uproarious laughter at the same time. Her repeated Scottish impersonations of contestant Jamie were constantly hilarious without ever overstaying their welcome.
The live music kept coming thick and fast as the audience was spoilt with song after song from the catalogue of Hall and Oates, Nina Simone and originals by Matthews and Tim Rogers (RocKwiz drummer, Peter Luscombe, even sharing vocal duties at Zemiro’s request).
Appropriately closing the night out with a song that George Harrison claims brought him to tears every time, the Beach Boys’, ‘God Only Knows’, Lahey and Gorman ensured love was the winner of the night.
Highlight: Julia Zemiro.
Lowlight: Absolutely nothing.
Crowd Favourite: ‘God Only Knows’.