Australian TV and journalism icon Quentin Dempster stepped in at the last moment and saved Sydney’s Fire Fight Australia concert after k. d. lang was a late withdrawal with a bout of sea sickness.
In a world exclusive, The Bug can reveal that the show’s producers noticed the former ABC 7.30 Report anchor in the audience near the front at ANZ Stadium on Sunday and simply asked him: “Can you sing a bit?”
Quentin explained: “When I said, sure, I do enjoy bashing out a song in the shower and the missus thinks I’ve got a nice voice, they asked me if I knew the words to Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.
“I said, sure, I think i could wing that and they clapped their hands together, got me back stage for a bit of a hair trim. They just asked me to butch things up a bit.”
With more than 70,000 fans at the fire fundraiser, desperate organisers had turned to the former TV star after Ms Lang continued to show seasick symptoms backstage hours after she had loaded a video online of her enjoying a Sydney Harbour cruise and saying she was looking forward to the charity fundraiser.
Quentin again: “Friends and acquaintances have often mentioned how much k. d. lang looks like me – not to my face, of course – and I knew I could pull it off. I hope that doesn’t sound too cocky.
“I didn’t think the glasses would be a giveaway but I said I’d noticed the big close-up screens behind the previous world-class performers on stage and said ‘you’ll just have to be a little careful with those or the fans might catch on that I’m not who they think I am’.
“I was a bit naughty. I grabbed one of Queen’s guitars on set and did a real slowed-down soul version of Sadie the Cleaning Lady (top image) to get the tubes ready for the more difficult number.
“A quick wardrobe change and I then slipped off both my glasses and my shoes and gave Hallelujah everything I’ve got (right).”
Quentin said his Hallelujah performance went off with a hitch.
“I think I gave it quite a fright. I didn’t know there were so many ways you could really stretch out the word hallelujah almost to the point of absurdity,” he said.