Yesterday's Fire Fight Australia concert (16 February) was 'Live Aid down under' with an army of artists and over 70,000 people in the audience all united for a common goal.
Staged at ANZ Stadium in Sydney, throughout the event thousands of donations were made to numerous charities including Bushfire Volunteers, CFS Foundation, Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal, NSW Rural Fire Service, Australian Red Cross and RSPCA.
Hailing from Arnhem Land and the Yolngu people came Danzal Baker, better known as Baker Boy. The Indigenous artist shot out like a bullet from a gun with an entourage of backup dancers while merging rap and Didgeridoo (an instrument we don’t see enough) with mathematical skill. It felt like a genuine, appropriate opening and an authentic Welcome to Country.
Baker Boy - image © Barnaby Downes
Next up was Daryl Braithwaite, he and crew spurred the crowd with unanimous approval through ‘The Horses’ (duh). Host Celeste Barber pops out mid-chorus astride a broomstick as her horse, all the while people are chanting: “That’s the way it’s gonna be, little darlin!” It’s cheesy and we loved it.
A brief interlude shows an interview with a local firefighter who speaks and reinforces the devastation and impact saying: “This is like nothing we’ve ever seen before." Illy then charged on stage asking “Do you want some?!” and we responded in kind as he performed his hit single ‘Catch 22’ hopping along and moving the crowd from docile to ravenous bopping.
Illy - image © Barnaby Downes
He also dropped the freshly released new single ‘Last Laugh’ before ending his set snagging a wide selfie with the people. It’s touching and appreciated.
The musical menagerie known as Peking Duk waste no time making their entrance, bringing some electronic energy with them while Adam Hyde strips his shirt off (it was hot). At the end of set they speak fervently about home loss, strength and unity, thank all the firies and volunteers for their effort and urge the people to visit the affected towns.Click here for more photos.
Host Celeste re-emerges to announce that $600,000 has been raised as more and more people pour in for Australian sweetheart Delta Goodrem, she enters wielding the Aussie flag and encompassed by a backup choir as she ravishes the crowd with ‘Sitting On Top Of The World’ and ‘Lost Without You’.
Delta Goodrem - image © Barnaby Downes
Taking a break from his Ol’ Black Eyes Is Back tour is Alice Cooper. Emerging in a red ringmaster’s jacket, adorned with medals and copious amounts of leather that only he can pull off, he asked “Who’s got the power?!” while brandishing an accoutrement of items including a crutch and even a rapier that he points at randoms while he stares into their souls; it borders on utopian.
The 72 year old absolutely brought the house down with a captivating performance of ’School’s Out’ before a costume change, donning a white tailcoat with the Australian flag patched on the back; this Prince of Darkness is a true legend and master of his art form.
Alice Cooper - image © Barnaby Downes
Bringing a tender touch, pop star Amy Shark pulled at our heartstrings with ‘Adore’ and ’Mess Her Up’; she spoke prior to her last song, ‘I Said Hi’: “This is my anthem and it makes me feel strong, tell the world I said hi."
Amy Shark - image © Barnaby Downes
Moving onwards and upwards, Adam Lambert and the boys from Queen entered to a salivating anticipation amid thunderous applause, sprinkled with many a phone torch being waved.
Their musical punches were certainly not held back as they opened with the intro for a little tune called ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ before transitioning smoothly into ‘Radio Ga Ga’; new singer Adam Lambert owned the hell out of this performance with remarkable stage presence and a resplendent jaguar-leopard-ish print suit.
We then had the man himself, Freddie Mercury performing 'Ay-Oh' on screen which practically hypnotised the audience in a beautiful unison. The house was brought down with ‘Hammer To Fall’, ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’, ‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘We Are the Champions’ – all the while the ground quakes with claps and stomps, Brian May and Roger Taylor delivering rocking solos, enrapturing people of all demographics. Queen has aged like fine wine.
Queen with Adam Lambert - image © Barnaby Downes
Cutting straight to Michael Buble live on screen as he has emerged from his post-Christmas slumber, he performed at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne grooving and shuffling throughout the performance; before he closed his set, he requested firefighters and their families in his audience to stand as he acknowledged their sacrifice.
The boys from Hilltop Hoods come cascading in, and surprise, surprise we had cheeky cameos from Adrian Eagle for ‘Clark Griswold’ and Montaigne for ’1955’, thus adding even more artists to the cavalcade of performers; if the people were starting to feel tired they were certainly roused.
The Hoods brought it home with certified banger ‘Cosby Sweater’ sparking chants of the chorus “And it’s all good”.
Hilltop Hoods with Adrian Eagle - image © Barnaby Downes
Our boy Russell Crowe delivered a surprise message as he asked for a minute silence in memoriam for all lives lost, people and animals alike; it’s a sombre moment, yet it warms the heart.
Other highlights include Guy Sebastien unveiling a big, fat cheque for $200,000 from the Sony Foundation; Ronan Keating stating “Even though we’re 12,000 miles away, we’re with you, you’re not alone”(gotta love the Irish); and Icehouse performing ‘Great Southern Land’ alongside Indigenous artist William Barton from Mount Isa, fusing a classic with the Didgeridoo – it’s fitting and it blends well.
Host Celeste Barber - image © Barnaby Downes
By the end of the night it is announced a whopping $8.8 million was raised (that number has since increased to $9.5 million), reiterating this was akin to a modern Live Aid.