Australian comedian and actor Celeste Barber will host the benefit concert. (Facebook: Celeste Barber)
Two dozen Australian and international artists are playing a huge gig in Sydney on Sunday to support those affected by the summer bushfires.
Tens of thousands of people will fill up the Olympic stadium for a nine-hour benefit concert, with money raised going to a variety of bushfire-related causes. The show will be broadcast live on Channel Seven.
Here’s what you need to know.
While there’s technically no “headliner”, organisers say, the big international artists include Queen + Adam Lambert, Alice Cooper and Michael Buble, who will be beamed in live from his concert in Melbourne.
The rest of the bill features an assortment of pop, hip hop, rock and country artists from Australia and overseas:
- 5 Seconds of Summer
- Conrad Sewell
- Delta Goodrem
- Jessica Mauboy
- Tina Arena
- Ronan Keating
- Baker Boy
- Amy Shark
- Daryl Braithwaite
- Guy Sebastian
- Hilltop Hoods
- John Farnham
- k.d. lang
- Lee Kernaghan
- Olivia Newton-John
- Peking Duk
- Pete Murray
- William Barton
Given the number of artists performing and the set times, we’ll likely get a handful of songs per artist.
Hopefully, we’ll get what Mark Pope, who helped put together Wave Aid, Live Earth and Sound Relief, calls “magic moments”, the kinds of one-off spectacles these events tend to inspire.
Expect these artists to pull out their best-known songs.
For example, it would be odd if Queen + Adam Lambert didn’t play Bohemian Rhapsody, which they’ve been doing on their current Australian tour and which has been given a renewed popularity thanks to the recent film of the same name.
John Farnham and Olivia Newton-John will close the show. What else could they go out with but You’re the Voice?
The event will be hosted by Australian comedian Celeste Barber, the queen of bushfire fundraising, whose Facebook appeal in early January has raised more than $50 million for the NSW Rural Fire Service.
Where can I watch it?
The Fire Fight concert will be broadcast live on Channel Seven and Foxtel from 1:00pm AEDT.
How much has been raised?
We don’t know the total yet, but organisers said they had sold about 70,000 tickets, which ranged in price from $70 to $100.
All the bands have donated their time, as have about 1,400 people working across the event on the day.
Truck and hotel companies have also waived their fees, while commuters with a concert ticket will travel free on NSW public transport.
Geoff Jones, chief executive of concert promoter TEG, said there would be small overheads for flying artists and crew, but that every dollar possible would go towards the cause.
Proceeds from ticket sales will go state rural fire services, the Red Cross and the RSPCA. Donations made via the Fire Fight website will go to the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal.
This is in addition to the money Barber has raised through her Facebook appeal.
How did this come together?
Mr Jones said the idea for the concert originated in early December. In early January, when it was clear the fires were becoming a national emergency, he started soliciting the input of record label bosses and media executives.
Alice Cooper, Michael Buble and Queen + Adam Lambert were already touring the country around the proposed date, with the latter playing the stadium the previous evening, meaning stage equipment would already be in place.
Queen + Adam Lambert were already touring Australia, and are playing the Olympic stadium the night before. (AAP: Tracey Nearmy)
“Everybody we called, they said ‘We’re in’,” Mr Jones told the ABC, adding that several international acts had contacted his business partner, Paul Dainty, offering their help.
Trying to work out a running order was a bit like “a jigsaw puzzle,” he said, given the line-up included a range of genres and artists appealing to different demographics.
We’ve seen events like this before, right?
There was Wave Aid in 2005, a few weeks after the Boxing Day tsunami. In 2007, Sydney held a local leg of the Live Earth concert to combat climate change. And in 2009, following the Black Saturday bushfires, there were the Sound Relief concerts in Sydney and Melbourne.
Mr Pope recalled the power of The Presets playing as a thunderstorm broke out during the Sydney leg of the Sound Relief concert.
He said these kinds of events united the community and made sure that “those who survived didn’t feel alone”.
“It’s that adage of you see best in people paradoxically in a tragedy because everybody pulls together,” he said.