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  • Writer's pictureKyriakos Tsinivits

Adelaide Cabaret Festival: ‘RocKwiz Salutes Eurovision’ Review

‘RocKwiz Salutes Eurovision’ promo. Photo credit: The Advertiser and photographer Tricia Watkinson

On Friday night June 25 2021 Adelaide was spoiled with one of the most fun Eurovision themed shows ever, ‘RocKwiz Salutes Eurovision’, in the format of the popular TV music quiz show ‘RocKwiz’! The show is part of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival and was slated as a World Premiere and Adelaide exclusive!

‘RocKwiz’ was a highly popular Australian television music trivia quiz show that predominantly focused on rock music where guest musicians performed live in each episode. The show premiered in 2005 on SBS and ended in its 14th season in 2016. The show itself continues on as live stage show that pops up across the country.

Photo credit: Claudio Raschella

‘RocKwiz Salutes Eurovision’ was presented by Julia Zerimo, who was Australia’s Eurovision commentator, alongside comedian and radio/TV presenter Sam Pang from 2009 to 2016. Julia presented the show with Brian Nankervis who is an Australian writer, actor, radio host, TV producer and comedian. He best known for his appearances on TV shows ‘Hey Hey It’s Saturday’, ‘The Panel’ and ‘Thank God You’re Here’. He also served as points scrutineer.

Honestly, as Julia Zemiro put it herself, it was a “Covid miracle” that the show even happened given the lockdowns and restrictions currently occurring throughout the country. Lucky for South Australia things are "somewhat normal" right now with 2000 people packing out the Adelaide Festival Theatre for ‘RocKwiz Salutes Eurovision’ with all the audience masked up.

The show started in typical RocKwiz fashion with six members of the audience put to the test with a round of 22 questions with only four of them progressing to the live show. The lucky audience members that made it through were Australian-Greek Con who works in sales, two OGAE members Lynne, also a public servant and Simone a CFS employee and a very young Max, who revealed he was a student currently in year 10 at high school. The young gun, impressed the audience with his immense knowledge of the Eurovision Song Contest and quick responses.

The audience members we put on a two teams where they were joined by special guests and one of the two teams who answer the most questions correctly will be crowned winners ‘RocKwiz Salutes Eurovision’.

The live band for the night aka the “EuroWiz Orchestra” consisted of on the Zoe Helpmann bass guitar, Evan Manel on the drums, Olympia on guitar and the musical director Cleo on the keyboards.

The show came with many surprises!

It started off with two people dressed in power ranger outfits, a pink and black power ranger to be precise dancing to a modern mashed up version of the Eurovision opening song the Prelude to Charpentier’s ‘Te Deum’! It was just a start to the wackiness and fun the show was going to give Adelaide.

Julia Zemiro and Brian Nankervis. Photo credit: Claudio Raschella

Julia Zemiro looked amazing, wearing a sparkling outfit to go with her “Kate Miller-Heidke ‘Zero Gravity’” inspired headpiece! The previous artistic director of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival introduced the show in a bit of French, a language she speaks fluently in.

The first special guest was the Australian Eurovision 2021 representative Montaigne who delighted the audience with a stunning version of ‘Technicolour’ hitting all her notes! She also had the pleasure to join the panel with two of the audience members. Montaigne joined team Con and Simone.

The next guest was Scottish-American actor, singer, writer and filmmaker and current Adelaide Cabaret Festival Director Alan Cumming! He performed a rendition ‘Mein Herr’ from musical ’Cabaret’ which came to prominence thanks to Liza Minnelli’s rendition in the film version of the musical in 1972. Alan joined team Lynne and Max.

Team Lynne, Alan and Max. Photo credit: Claudio Raschella

The show was great for those extremely knowledgable with Eurovision, and those once a year viewers that got a 101 on the history of Eurovision to present day.

The show consisted of various rounds with questions like “Which country has won Eurovision the most times?” to one that stumped the teams and even the audience. “What was the original name of ABBA?” Which interestingly was Festfolket, meaning party people in Swedish, similar to the Swedish word for engaged couples, which ABBA were at the time.

The show also consisted of an incredible performance of ‘Sound of Silence’ by Olympia from the live band. Julia did reveal that Dami Im was meant be on the show to perform her hit Eurovision song herself but due to filming ‘Celebrity Masterchef Australia’ interstate and the current Covid restriction rules wasn’t allowed into South Australia.

Famous “Berlin-born” Hans (actually from Adelaide) was introduced on stage as possibly Australia’s 2022 Eurovision entrant who won the hearts of 16 million Americans on ‘America’s Got Talent’. He performed his version of Helena Paparizou’s Eurovision winning song ‘My Number One’. To international Eurovision readers Hans is best known for his Eurovision medley at ‘Eurovision - Australia Decides 2019’. He replaced Montaigne on her team as she prepared to return later on to sing a rendition of ‘Making Your Mind Up’.

From the start of the show the star was truly the young Max who answered the most questions correctly. His team with Alan and Lynne won the whole thing!

Julia Zemiro ended the show with a quote from the UK’s BBC Eurovision commentator Graham Norton who once introduced a Eurovision entrant as follows “She claims to be the only yodeller in Romania, probably because the others don’t talk about it, that’s the first rule of the yodelling club.”

Alan, Hans and Montaigne. Photo credit: Claudio Raschella

The show ended on a high with Montaigne, Hans and Alan performing a sing-a-long of‘Waterloo’ to a very excited audience and returned for an encore performance of the most covered Eurovision song in history, Domenico Modugno’s ‘Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu’ better known as ‘Volare’. Both performances were amazing with the audience in full participation. It was a show to be remembered for a very long time and it goes to cement Australia’s huge love for everything Eurovision and of course Julia Zemiro!

About the Adelaide Cabaret Festival

The Adelaide Cabaret Festival is an annual event which commences on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in June. The festival itself first started in 2001. It is run by a selected Festival Director, with this years honour bestowed upon the Scottish-American actor Alan Cumming. In the past the likes of Barry Humphries, Kate Ceberano and past Australia Eurovision commentator Julia Zemiro, just to name a few, have had the honour of being the face of the festival. The festival itself attracts stars from across the world, with a few Eurovision connections. Past performers of the festival include Australia’s own Olivia Newton-John who represented the UK at Eurovision 1974, and iOTA who competed at ‘Eurovision - Australia Decides 2020’.


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