Wednesday, 19 September 2012



On Thursday August 30 2012 at Newcastle's Civic Theatre, I achieved an ambition in life-to be a Rockwiz contestant (a "Rockwizzer"!).

It was one of the most exciting, fun filled, yet nerveracking experiences I've ever had and not only am I more than happy to take up the Rockwiz team's offer to say a few words about my achievement, for those of you who hope to be a Rockwizzer one day, you'll either make your dream a reality or think twice about doing so after I've said my piece.

For a start, I can tell you that having been a Spicks & Specks contestant as well (at their Newcastle Ent Cent farewell show last year), the process of becoming a Rockwizzer was a lot different than becoming a Spicks contestant. With Spicks, it took a question about Chrissie Hynde to get me up on stage with Adam, Alan and Myf. With Rockwiz-it wasn't as easy as that.

Two days before the Some Kind Of Genius show, Newcastle ticketholders were given a chance on Rockwiz's Facebook page to score a Wildcard entry by answering "5 quick questions", and I don't know what was tougher-trying to be quick on the money with my answers, or the fear I was going to lose my rag with Rockwiz completely because there was about a half hour wait before the "5 quick questions" appeared.

Anyway, the wait was worth it because after having my head around questions about Johns Lennon & Howard sharing the same middle name, the brothers Dust working with The Beastie Boys & Beck, "Hello I Love You" plagarising "All Day & All Of The Night", Mr Mister having a hit with Broken Wings and Richard Hell belonging to the Blank Generation, I was one of the lucky 3 to score a Wildcard entry.

That was one hurdle jumped, but did I share this news with anyone? Hell no! I figured had I done so, I would've had more pressure put on me and such pressure would've got to me like its done before in the past when I've had once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, so I went into the Some Kind Of Genius show without anyone whatsoever knowing I had a chance at being a Rockwizzer.

Next thing you know-there I am backstage at the Civic with 23 other would-be Rockwizzers waiting and hoping they'll be one of the four sharing the stage with Julia, Brian, the Rockwiz Orchestra, Dugald and the special musical guests (those who missed out on FB won their Wildcards from Brian personally round the Civic, or found they had one hidden under their seats.

Four rounds and yours truly was one of the six in Round 2 (but not before squeezing in a Stewart Copeland style leap from the Rockwiz Orchestra's set-up as I was heading to my seat). No more hiding behind a computer and typing in my answers really fast in lower casing (there was no room for being fancy with typing skills on FB) - THIS IS IT!!!

Got off to a shaky start, but my fortunes changed when Brian played a series of pre-recorded riffs performed by the Rockwiz Orchestra (at this point, Brian & Dugald were the only Rockwiz team members to have appeared).
"Band On The Run"-check
"Love Is The Drug"-check
"I Want A New Drug"-check (but only after the 2 blokes sitting beside me were wrong with their guesses)
"April Sun In Cuba"-check
"April Sun..."-the song that changed my life at the tender age of 3. Someone at Rockwiz must've known how much "April Sun..." means to me because after recognising the riff, Dugald approaches Brian to let him know yours truly's answered the number of questions required to become a Rockwizzer. With words to the effect of "congratulations John-you're through!" from Brian,mission accomplished-I'm going to be a Rockwizzer!

Once the 24 have been narrowed down to 4, its backstage again for all sorts of behind the scenes activities, like meeting my fellow Rockwizzers Juan, Sharon and Shannon, Julia introducing herself to us, Julia and Brian giving us the lowdown on what & what not to do during the show (which I'll keep secret), Sharon & I being picked to sing in the karaoke section, then going for a quick rehearsal with James Black with Julia as our audience, signing release forms and deciding who should go on each team.

With all that sorted-time for the Rockwiz theme we all know and love, Brian's signature intros for the band (with extra guitarist Ashley Naylor from Even and Julia (I couldn't resist saying her surname the way Brian always does backstage), Julia greeting the crowd, then bringing out Vika & Linda Bull for Chic's "Good Times" before joining the band on backing vocal duties, and the moment us 4 Rockwizzers had been waiting for-Julia officially welcoming us to the stage. BLUE TEAM-yours truly and Shannon. YELLOW TEAM-Juan and Sharon.
As well as a compliment from Julia about the loud shirt I had on (to which I replied something like "Big Kev left me it in his will"), she asked me about my 1st concert, 1st album bought with my own money AND the best concert I've been to in Newcastle.

My answers?
1)Two shows on the same day-a John Lennon musical at the Civic & The Choirboys at Newcastle Beach for Surfest '86.
2)"Daddy's Coolest" by Daddy Cool "with my 8th birthday money".
3)So many great ones to choose from,but I thought seeing as we're at the Civic, I'll go with the best performer I've seen there, which was Lou Reed in 2003.

All the regular segments except for Master Blaster, plus Brian doing his Fan's Choice and a segment especially for the Some Kind Of Genius tour called 30 Seconds To Shine. 

WHO CAN IT BE NOW? - yours truly was on the ball with both guesses:
Kate Miller-Heidke (I knew it was her soon as Julia said the words "double barrel name") and Tex Perkins (Julia only got as far as his year & place of birth, and Greg-his real first name). Knowing Kate's name's one thing but knowing her music's a different story. Tex on the other hand-been a long time fan, so you can imagine how excited I was when he made his way to the stage. And to see him do Iggy proud with his take on "The Passenger" was an added bonus. Kate on Shannon & my team, Tex on Juan & Sharon's

LOCAL AND/OR GENERAL-everyone having a go, but how I can know an Allman Brothers song I'd never heard of called Jessica (that is-until the Orchestra performed it) and not know Julia by The Beatles puzzles me. And you said a Lennon musical was one of your first concerts John?
At the end of this round, scores were level (115 all if my memory serves me correct) and Kate Miller-Heidke left to make way for another musical guest. Little did I know a series of questions about Marcia Hines meant she was the next guest and would be joining Shannon & I soon as she sang one of my fave songs of hers-"You". How's that-I didn't have to go on Australian Idol to meet Marcia Hines. Laughing!

MILLION DOLLAR RIFF-not so sharp on the buzzer with the riffs like I had been earlier, but Marcia came through for us with Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" and (from memory) Shannon did likewise with Zoot's cover of "Eleanor Rigby" (included to pay tribute to the band's recently deceased frontman Darryl Cotton)

FAN'S CHOICE-Tex's turn to vacate his seat for another musical guest. Suze DiMarchi from Baby Animals. Was that really her first time on a Rockwiz show? Did "Early Warning" with the band and looking the same as she did when that song came out 21 years ago.

30 SECONDS TO SHINE-brutal! No other way to describe it. 30 seconds to answer as many questions as possible without using the buzzer and trying not to get too distracted by the sight of Dugald being timekeeper with a Flavor Flav style clock hanging round his neck. Yellow team-not one wrong answer. Our team had to pull out the stops if we were going to be any match. When we managed the same feat, I felt like Will Ferrell in "Old School" when he  won the debate against James Cargill. I may have drew a blank with The Beatles earlier, but I redeemed myself with "Sweet Jane" by The Velvet Underground. In light of saying his show was my fave at the Civic, Lou Reed would've been pissed if I didn't know that was his song. I didn't see what scores the teams were after this round but I do know they were still level.

THE FURIOUS FIVE-I was more relaxed here than I was in previous rounds though by rights, I shouldn't have been, especially when Sharon & I would be called up to do our duet at any moment. When Sharon & I were eventually called up, a mini chocolate wheel was lowered down onto the stage in a fashion similar to how the mini Stonehenge makes its ill-fated appearance in "...Spinal Tap". Sharon did the honours in spinning the wheel and the crowd may have been led to believe there was a variety of songs to choose from, but to those of us onstage, it didn't matter where the wheel stopped-"Don't Go Breaking My Heart" was the only song on it.
We may not have put Elton and Kiki Dee to shame with our rendition, but points for effort and no matter where I do it, the move I call "the John Hurt" (inspired by the scene in "Alien" where his character meets a grizzly end, courtesy of the alien itself) always works a treat and the Civic Theatre was no exception. Just ask Julia if you don't believe me and hell-even Marcia dug it. Who said you needed to go on Australian Idol to impress Marcia Hines? And to the chap outside the Civic Theatre after the show who dared to criticise our performance - we didn't exactly see you up there did we! 

Its also in this round where Julia announced who out of Juan, Shannon, Sharon and I would be crowned "Some Kind Of Genius". Juan looked certain to earn that title, going on how good he was. I  didn't expect after correctly guessing the acronym for Abba, Julia would bestow me with this honour. A "Some Kind Of Genius" tour shirt presented to me on a royal cushion by Dugald then Julia asking me to take a bow for the audience were my rewards.

Still anybody's game during The Furious Five and when Brian counted 5,4,3,2,1 just as Juan answered the last question, I was expecting the scores to still be level and a tiebreaker question would be needed. It was up to Dugald to prove me wrong. Yellow card-230 . Blue card-245
WE DID IT!WE DID IT! Of all the questions our team got right in The Furious Five, I reckon the ones that won us the game were the 2 about the Stones song "Before They Make Me Run" and the acronym for the MC5. Would hate to think it was the one I answered about One Direction.

Before us Rockwizzers were invited up to take a bow with Julia, Brian and all the musical guests at the end,Tex & Kate got in a duet (the song's not on me at this time of writing, but I know Tex gave the Theramin a good workout in it) and all the musical guests joined in for "The Letter". Backstage-Julia and Brian were up for doing an encore, which would've happened had the Civic not turned the lights and the music back on.

Instead, my Rockwiz experience finished with quick thank yous to Brian, Julia, Peter "Lucky " Luscombe and Tex and a photo shoot with Brian, Julia and us Rockwizzers near the dressing rooms for Rockwiz's FB page.

AT LONG LAST-my 2 failed attempts at getting on Sale Of The Century in the early '90's were finally laid to rest on Thursday August 30 2012 at the Civic Theatre.Thank you Rockwiz!

1 comment:

  1. 2 more boo-boos on my part:
    *It should be "Shannon and I's team"
    *It's James Carville,not Cargill