Queen delighted the crowd by performing a repeat of its iconic 1985 Live Aid concert. (AAP: Joel Carrett)
Performing at the Fire Fight Australia concert in Sydney, Queen fronted by singer Adam Lambert have re-enacted their entire legendary 1985 Live Aid performance.
- 75,000 people are expected to attend the concert at Sydney Olympic Park
- Comedian Celeste Barber opened the show with a dig at politicians
- Queen, fronted by Adam Lambert, performed a repeat of its iconic 1985 Live Aid show
The concert is in full swing, with 10 hours of musical performances raising funds for communities devastated by the catastrophic bushfires and the emergency services who have worked tirelessly to support them.
Queen’s set began with a gentle piano into Bohemian Rhapsody, the band then segued into Radio Gaga, as Freddie Mercury famously did in the 1980s fundraiser.
The audience appeared to be singing every word, joining in with gusto to the famous handclap motif.
A recording of Freddie Mercury was sued for the “aye oh” call back, echoed back at full volume by the crowd.
As Mercury did, Lambert followed swiftly into Hammer to Fall.
After the foot-stomping spectacular of We Will Rock You, the crowd joined force in unison to sing We Are the Champions, a song that will have many meanings for those here tonight.
Lit phones were held aloft throughout the stadium in what seemed to be a rallying cry for all, for the band’s final song.
Everyone knew they have witnessed an incredible piece of rock history.
Celeste Barber hosts star-studded show
The host, comedian Celeste Barber, whose own fundraising efforts have raised $51.3 million through a Facebook campaign, launched the show with an early political dart.
“It’s been such a hectic time. As Aussies, we bear together and look after each other — because it turns out the people at the top don’t,” she said to a big cheer from the crowd.
Barber told fans they were in for a “wicked night” with “epic” names like Olivia Newton-John and Alice Cooper, plus “multiple costume changes” by herself, she joked.
75,000 attended the concert at Sydney Olympic Park, with 23 artists performing at an event that is being broadcast nationally and to the US, UK and New Zealand.
$7,158,576 had been raised as of 8:00pm (AEST).
Barber announced organisers were setting a target of $10 million by the end of the night.
To celebrate, she thanked donors and led the audience in a chant of “power to the people”.
“We are all here for each other,” she said.
The announcement came after performances by pop favourite Jessica Mauboy and a blistering set by party-starters Peking Duk, who urged the audience to visit affected communities and holiday in Australia to help boost recovery efforts.
Waving an Australian flag, Delta Goodrem, accompanied by a choir of young girls all dressed in white, started her set with a rousing version of I Am Australian, joined by the crowd.
In a filmed message from Kensington Palace, Prince William said how he and Catherine were “shocked and saddened” by the bushfires and commended the bravery of all those who put their lives on the line.
He paid tribute to the impact on livelihoods and the wildlife of Australia and thanked all those who had donated for their generosity.
“We wish you all the best.”
Old and new national treasures and a few notable international faces are among those fronting the show.
Delta Goodrem, backed by a young girls’ choir, got the crowd going with a rendition of I Am Australian. (AAP: Joel Carrett)
Irish singer Ronan Keating and ARIA Hall-of-Famer Tina Arena were yet more legendary crowd-pleasers who pledged their support and spoke about how much the day meant to them as they both took to the stage.
Things went up a notch again with Alice Cooper whose unique brand of shock-rock theatrics would have blown the roof off Stadium Australia if it had one.
Bearing a cane and changing outfits despite his short set — including a white top hat and tailcoat featuring an Aussie flag — he powered through hits including Department of Youth, Poison and School’s Out to a roaring crowd.
It was a hard act to follow, but Aria award-winning Gold Coast singer-songwriter Amy Shark stepped up, saying it was the “greatest day of my life”.
After a short set of hits including Mess You Up, she signed off with anthem I Said Hi, saying it was a song written when she felt misunderstood and underappreciated.
“Standing here right now in front of you and everyone at home, we should feel strong and powerful right now, because we are the strongest country in the world.”
Before Sydney’s finest boyband export 5 Seconds of Summer took to the stage, host Barber led a tribute to all the firefighters — who least 1,000 of were present — by making the entire stadium stand on their feet and thank the volunteers for their dedication and hard work with the loudest of roars.
Also in town is Canadian singer k.d. lang, while Michael Buble did a live cross from his concert in Melbourne.
Jessica Mauboy is among a host of high-profile acts performing in Sydney. (AAP: Joel Carrett)
Fans arrived at the stadium early and said they were excited to be a part of such a huge national event.
“It was a good opportunity to listen to some good singers and come together and support the firefighters and all those families that lost their homes,” said Jacqueline Rook, who came with her family, husband Stephen and daughters Michaela, 14 and Savannah, 11.
She said it would be one of the biggest shows she has ever been to.
“It’s just the environment, everyone coming together to support the people,” she said.
It was a sentiment echoed by three friends on their way in: Rachel Gleeson and Emma Carr, both from Newcastle, and Rowena O’Neill from Bardwell Park.
“We’re here to get behind our country. When things fall to pieces, we need to pull together and stand together, so that’s why I wanted to come,” Ms Carr said.
Ms O’Neill said she had family and friends down the South Coast who had been affected and were not yet getting the support they needed.
However, she added she had seen the negative commentary surrounding Barber’s fund and was aware that it was for the national fire services.
“People are complaining that the $50 million is not going to the people — that’s not meant to go to the people, that’s meant to go to the RFS because they need better trucks and a lot more support so they can get out there and fight these fires,” she said.
Friends Rachel Gleeson, Emma Carr and Rowena O’Neill outside the concert. (ABC News: Sarah Thomas)
The Daily Telegraph reported that the money raised was sitting unused because of strict fundraising rules.
Country star Lee Kernaghan, a long-time advocate for rural communities, was the first act up after Welcome to Country.
He finished his four-track set, including favourites Backroad Nation and Ute Me, with a tribute to the emergency services before launching into his anthem Spirit of the Anzacs.
“I want to send it out with love and respect for our frontline emergency services and to our men and women in uniform today past and present,” he said.
“This really is reminding me right now that we live in the greatest country on earth,” he said to the rapturous crowd.
“Australia — but it’s the Australian people who make this country great, so thank you to you and everybody involved.”
The show also featured artists including Guy Sebastian, Pete Murray and Grinspoon.
Brett and Nikki Wall came down from the Gold Coast to join their son Guy who lives in Dee Why in Sydney’s northern beaches.
They said they came armed with water and lollies to get them through the day, and they hoped that the money raised went directly to the “right areas”.
“We came today to help support the firefighters and I hope the money goes straight to the people that need it,” said Nikki.
She said was also important that funds went to the affected wildlife, as well.
Brett and Nikki Wall from the Gold Coast and their son Jay from Dee Why. (ABC News: Sarah Thomas)
“Us human beings can recover but the poor wildlife really need our help too.”
Brett said it was very Australian to back big causes like today’s.
“The spirit of Australia comes through, especially in times of need,” he said.
“Look at when overseas countries have problems, we are the first one to send aid. It’s the true Aussie spirit coming out.”
‘Really proud to be a part of this’
After his set, Kernaghan told the ABC he was relieved to have got the first performance out of the way but he was honoured to be a part of the event.
“I just feel really proud to be a part of this incredible concert and the audience here is love personified,” he said.
“They’ve all come together, they’ve wrapped their arms around all those affected by the fires and [want] to try and make a difference with the fundraising.”
He said the day was about Australia supporting Australians in a time of need.
“It’s just been devastating for so many people and I don’t think anyone could fully comprehend the impact of losing your home and all your belongings, or losing a loved one,” he said.
“That’s just something you never, ever recover from and that’s why the heart of the nation goes out to all those affected.”
He also again paid tribute to the firefighters.
“The other image that will stay with me forever is just seeing the firies on the front line facing massive walls of flames and putting their lives on the line for other people, and those volunteers, what they did, they are extraordinary people,” he said.
Other artists who have taken to the stage this afternoon include Conrad Sewell, Baker Boy, Daryl Braithwaite and Pete Murray.
With the weather rain-free and relatively warm, conditions were perfect for the crowd at the stadium, who are lapping up the entertainment and in fine singing form — even taking over Braithwaite’s classic track Horses in full volume, which he let the audience sing a capella.
All concert profits will go towards rural and regional fire and rescue services, the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery, the RSPCA Bushfire Appeal and the BizRebuild program.
People can donate today to firefightaustralia.com — all money raised here will go to the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal for local community groups.
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