Live Review: The Age Music Victoria Hall Of Fame Concert

24 November 2015 | 2:34 pm | Bryget Chrisfield

"We're all gagging for the rock'n'roll segment of this evening's proceedings and AC/DC's achievements make us swell with national pride."

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There are some gorgeous outfits milling about outside Palais Theatre, but it's Music Victoria CEO Paddy Donovan's cream suit that wins Fashions On The Field/Footpath. Brian Nankervis is just perfect as host. His RocKwiz experience makes him an expert at managing spontaneity as well as narrating the video packages. From the moment Nankervis appears, circulating through the crowd and inciting a clap-along until his final "thank you"s, he's is flawless.

To mark Palais Theatre's induction into The Age Music Victoria Hall Of Fame, the inimitable Vika Bull and Grinspoon's Phil Jamieson perform Gimme Shelter after Nankervis informs us The Stones played their first-ever Victorian concert within these walls in 1965. Add this performance to Grinspoon's killer Cold Chisel support last night and the jury is most definitely in: Jamieson is back. Bill Armstrong (of Armstrong Studios) is then inducted into the Hall Of Fame by his long-time buddy and legend in his own right, Normie Rowe.  

Paying his respects to another of tonight's inductees, Stan 'The Man' Rofe, Mark Seymour, with the help of tonight's incarnation of The EG Allstars — featuring Bill McDonald (musical director), James Black, Ash Naylor and Ben Weisner — absolutely shines during his rendition of The Loved One (by The Loved Ones, but later covered by the mighty INXS). Brian Cadd — who Nankervis informed the crowd is still gigging around the country, "on land and sea" — sings A Little Ray Of Sunshine to honour Sunbury Festival, another of this year's inductees.

To those of us who never knew the story of Thunderbirds saxophonist/flautist Henri Bource, who lost his leg after a shark attack during which he bravely instructed his diving companions to keep filming, the evening proves educational. Many in the crowd express their extreme delight when saxophonist Paul Williamson takes to the stage to perform Wild Weekend with The EG Allstars. Kate Ceberano pays tribute to Hall Of Fame inductees The Seekers when she sings I'll Never Find Another You; she puts her own spin on it, but many in the house wish she'd stayed true to the original.

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It's extremely exciting to watch Barry Gibb inducting Olivia Newton-John via video package (filmed in LA), but then Angie Hart's A Little More Love underwhelms (the band sound fabulous, though). Archie Roach and Paul Kelly score a well-deserved standing ovation for Roach's heart-breaking Took The Children Away (which was rightfully added to the National Film & Sound Archive's registry in 2013). Uncle Jack Charles then welcomes Roach into the Hall Of Fame and his "from the feral... to the bald" call brings the guffaws.

We're all gagging for the rock'n'roll segment of this evening's proceedings and AC/DC's achievements make us swell with national pride. Bull absolutely nails the opening verse of Highway To Hell, her projection and power making it hard for Kingswood frontman Fergus Linacre (his mic should've been turned up to level the playing field).

After intermission, we watch a video montage of John Farnham's achievements while we're simultaneously wowed by his mullets through the ages, some of which really are spectacular. His performance is everything we anticipated and then some. Farnham stops Pressure Down mid-way through when he loses his spot and starts the song over. He seems rattled by this, but we don't mind. The mastery of Chong Lim is on full display and when he cranks out the Playing To Win keys intro several audience members jump to their feet. The joker in Farnham is front and centre as he attempts (and fails) various showbiz elements including throwing (and then failing to catch) the mic stand. "Don't mess with me, 'cause I'm a Hall Of Famer," Farnham teases. Long-time backing vocalist Lisa Edwards looks fantastic; exactly as she did back in the '80s, complete with high hair.

A fan strides all the way down the aisle to personally hand a card to Farnham. Another in the front row hands him a T-shirt, which he wipes his face with before handing it back to her. Farnham tells us he's "absolutely rooted". You're The Voice (earlier labelled "unofficial national anthem" by Farnham's inductor and Sony CEO, Denis Handlin) is a spiritual experience and when the two pipers enter, one from each wing, all of our dreams come true. Farnham then pulls out Sadie (The Cleaning Lady), joking during the song's introduction that he'll take note of those who leave during this song, find out where they live then go around to their houses and "nail them".

Farnham's encore performance of AC/DC's anthem It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock 'N' Roll) is the perfect way to close this event, which runs flawlessly, and — finally — the punters are on their feet. We could not be more proud of the Victorians whose contributions to our music scene we celebrate tonight.