Music

The Best And Wildest Musical Moments Of ‘Rove Live’

Never forget the time David Bowie hid his sunglasses in that giant bowl of M&M's.

It’s almost hard to remember now that there was once a time when live music was a regular feature of Australian television. 

While ABC’s iconic show Recovery called it quits in 2000, Channel 10’s Rove Live flew the live music flag right up until the end of the decade.

The show beamed performances from some of the world’s biggest artists into our living rooms each week, and also introduced us to artists who were at the very beginning of their world domination.

So we at Music Junkee decided to go over the 10 years of performances and pull out those songs that were truly memorable. And then we reached out to the great man himself, Rove, who — much to our surprise and happiness — jumped at the chance to relive the best musical memories of the show he steered for a decade. 

In fact, he not only wanted to help out — he decided to write the whole bloody thing. So here’s the inside skinny from the skinny guy on the inside.

Get stuck in, and say hi to your mum for him. 

Rove Live

David Bowie — ‘The Man Who Sold The World’, ‘New Killer Star'(2004)

Even at the time I knew how big a deal it was to have David Bowie on the show, and even more so now that he was taken so soon. I am so thankful to have had the experience. He is one of only maybe two or three artists I can think of who performed more than one song on the show and was rightfully the first to do so.

More than anything I remember him being playful and fun, even going so far as to somehow hide his sunglasses in our famous bowl of M&M’s, which he then pulled out later during our interview. I got a little tongue-tied during my introduction for him and he spent almost the rest of the night playfully hanging shit on me for it.

One of the biggest names in music was truly one of the most delightful I have ever met.


Destiny’s Child — ‘Nasty Girl’ (2002)

No matter how big they became, these girls are still the same three friends who grew up in Texas. I always truly enjoyed having them on the show as they were always just absolute sweethearts who seemed to somehow find my childishness endearing.

“Kelly introduced me to French fries with ice-cream during this interview, which we shared together the next time she was in the country.”

The surprising stand out moment I have was Kelly introduced me to French fries with ice-cream during this interview, which we shared together the next time she was in the country. As she told me: “don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it.”

My main memory of this appearance, however, was their gold outfits. They worked really well for their performance but looked a little out of place as they tried to sit on the couch for our interview in those tiny, shiny miniskirts without any kind of wardrobe malfunction going on but somehow managed to pull it off.

Beyoncé was also in full afro mode for her Foxy Cleopatra role in the upcoming Austin Powers: Goldmember movie which only added to the unique look they had going on.


Bloc Party — ‘Banquet’ (2005)

Bloc Party were the perfect example of what we tried to achieve with our music on the show. We would have regular meetings where we would listen to all the upcoming releases from the various music companies to decide who we would want to have perform and I recall Bloc Party being one of those bands that I must admit not being aware of by name at the time, but I just really liked their track to the point it got them a spot on-air.

Naturally they did a fantastic job, so I hope that there were people similar to me who maybe were not sure who Bloc Party were before our show but then went and bought some of their music after hearing them.

We had such a tremendous platform — or literally “nana rug”, as we called it — to showcase music talent on our show that it’d be nice to think things like that could’ve been happening over the years with our acts in studio connecting with our audience at home.


Silverchair — ‘The Greatest View’ (2002)

This was a significantly memorable landmark performance in the history of our show. This was the big return for the boys after lead singer Daniel Johns had to step down due to his crippling physical ailments.

But here they were, back and with arguably one of the greatest albums in Australian music history. We ended up pretty much building the entire show around them and their triumphant homecoming.

Before the show we recorded a separate interview for a special we put to air on Ten to coincide with the launch of their album Diorama, which helped us all get warmed up for the night. It worked especially well for Daniel as we had a one-on-one interview with him later in the show which he was supremely nervous about and was only made worse by the fact he was in obvious and severe pain that had him moving pretty slowly while he was backstage.

I don’t know how he got through it, but he did. When the show was done we all hung around at the studio chatting until very late.


Lady Gaga — ‘Just Dance’ (2008)

I remember Gaga arrived at our studio having just been criticised for lip-syncing on one of the morning shows, after a technical glitch made her audio go out on a delay that made it look like she wasn’t singing live. When we met before the show, she confessed she was quite upset by the accusations and told me she was adamant that this would be put to rest with us.

We were completely sympathetic to her cause and did all we could to help her look as good as possible and she was very touched as she was only an emerging artist at the time, so went out of her way to give her all and even name-dropped the show during her song to prove it wasn’t a pre-recorded backing track.

“It’s easy to get someone on your show, the key is getting them to come back. I’m glad Gaga was one of those.”

She never forgot it and when she was next back in the country, as one of the biggest names in entertainment, we were one of the few shows who didn’t have to beg, borrow and steal to get her on. I’m proud of that because it was important to us to be a champion of the emerging artists as much as we were of the superstars and it’s nice when it means a lot to those emerging artists when they become the superstars.

As I always say: it’s easy to get someone on your show, the key is getting them to come back. I’m glad Gaga was one of those. She even gave me a gift of some leggings she had designed which I still have today.


Shakira — ‘Whenever Wherever’ (2002)

What a cutie! This was one of those occasions where we took a gamble on giving a young artist an interview segment as well as a performance, which was normally only reserved for the true A-listers, but her song was taking the world by storm so we thought we’d take the risk.

It wasn’t until I met Shakira properly backstage that I realised how she was really just a kid and her English wasn’t great, so I must admit to being slightly nervous about how things would go.

It turns out I needn’t have worried as she didn’t hold back making jokes, having fun and being endearing as hell. I will always remember her breaking out an impression of The Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin none of us saw coming that was truly hilarious.


You Am I — ‘Good Mornin’ (2003)

Having such icons of Australian rock on the show was always a treat. I loved it whenever we had You Am I on because it was one of the few times you’d see the true fanboy in Pete Helliar emerge. As I remember it, this was for a Best Of album they had released which meant we had any of their greatest hits to choose from.

Lead singer Tim Rogers is a relatively quiet guy which is why I would get such a kick out of seeing him in full performance mode. It was like he took on a whole new persona and was a constant reminder of never judging a book by its cover.


Magic Dirt — ‘Plastic Loveless Letter’ (2003)

This was one of those examples of when live TV can backfire on you. All our bands would usually be first to the studio on show day to sound check and get an early rehearsal in, so it was almost a given that the first thing I would do every week when I arrived was head in and treat myself to a private gig as I watched on from our empty audience seats.

“Magic Dirt didn’t even have time to stop and eat anything all day before their performance.”

Needless to say, when I turned up for this episode to find Magic Dirt had not even turned up yet, I had questions. It turned out they had missed a flight that morning (from Queensland, I think?) but had assured us they would make it in time.

That’s easy to say, but when you’re a live television show, unfortunately waiting for others to get there and join you is not an option. They did make it, but it made for a very stressful day for them where I believe it was so frantic they didn’t even have time to stop and eat anything all day.

You’d never know it from their performance.


Tori Amos — ‘Big Wheel’ (2007)

As the years rolled by with our show, there were artists and bands you just never expected would ever be on. I must admit Tori Amos as one of them. She’s such a big name that just seemed to be one of those ones who never needed to visit our shores. So when we managed to get her on, I was a little surprised but supremely happy about it.

And then we got her again only about a year and a bit later. Not only that, she ended up on the same episode as Daniel Radcliffe and Zac Efron, so it was just about as star-studded as you could get — and she surprised a lot of people by giving a performance that was a slightly different one for her.

It was very upbeat and fun, with a slight country twang that was a perfect end to what was a very, very fun show that night.


Jet — ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl’ (2004)

Long before the explosion of their debut album Get Born, our music producer Paige alerted us to this new rock band who she predicted were going to be huge. Trusting her advice, we did the young guys a solid and booked them on the show to perform their song ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl’.

By the time the album launched and then exploded, we had them already locked in to do our show while everyone else was scrambling to get the hottest band in town. It shows that having faith in your people and taking a chance on raw young talent can create a win for everybody involved.


Garbage — ‘Shut Your Mouth’ (2002)

This one sticks in my mind for everything that happened after it was over. Garbage were a huge get for us and at the time one of my absolute favourite bands, so there was no doubting how exciting it was to have them on the show.

After every episode, each music act was offered to watch their performance back, on a monitor we had backstage. After Garbage had watched theirs they demanded to speak to our director. There was a slight panic and buzz of activity while our director Peter Otts (aka “Pottsy”) was summoned from his control room, while we all nervously waited to watch the outcome.

When Pottsy arrived, Shirley and the boys wanted to let him know that they had played on television shows all around the world and our performance was the best they’d ever looked, so wanted to meet the man who made it happen.

A very cool validation for us all, once the nerves had settled from what we thought was originally going to be a massive fight with our softly-spoken director and an angry band of Scots.


Ben Folds — ‘Rockin’ The Suburbs’ (2001)

By this stage, Ben Folds was no stranger to our show and he and I had become good friends. Before this particular performance, we were talking in his dressing room and he asked me, “It’s ok to say ‘fuck’ on your show, right?” I reminded him that, yes, our broadcast laws and late timeslot meant we can get away with it.

He then went on to finish his song later that night with the famous line “better watch out, because I’m gonna say fuck” as many times and as loudly as a human being possibly can. Which is not quite what I meant he could do. But I think he knew that. Cheeky bastard.


Powderfinger — ‘Burn Your Name’ (2009)

For me, this may forever be the most memorable performance we ever had on the show. And it wasn’t even put to air. This one happened at the end of my farewell show in 2009. I was talking to the boys before the show about how it would be my last and also mentioned in passing how ‘Burn Your Name’ was my favourite song off their new album.

Even though they were booked to play the single ‘All Of The Dreamers’ to close the night, after the show they called me up on stage to perform ‘Burn Your Name’ with them as a parting gift of appreciation. My favourite song from my favourite band; what a way to say goodbye.

Rove McManus is an Australian comedian, TV presenter, radio host, and former host — of course — of Rove Live. Follow him on Twitter.

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