In 1985, the music world offered their talents for the Live Aid super-concert charity to support South African famine relief. The rock band, Queen, was one of the highlights from the Live Aid performances and conversely, the event was a highlight of their stardom.
Sources claim the Land Down Under has experienced the worst brushfire season on record. Originating in the southeast region of New South Wales back in November 2019, the fires have swept across all six Australian states. Roughly 25.5 million acres have been destroyed, devastating over two-thousand homes and an estimation of one billion animals. To give some perspective, that amount of acreage is comparable to the size of South Korea! The eastern Australian states of Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria account for eighty-four percent of the devastation. Due to the smoke, the capitol city of Sydney (on the Australian east coast of the New South Wales state) recorded the worst pollution it’s ever seen on January 1st, with an air quality index twenty-three times higher than what is considered hazardous. This so much and so problematic that the smoke crept into birthing rooms, stopped MRI machines from working, and triggered respiratory distress in an elderly woman, leading to her death. The pollutant air quality has even affected New Zeland, which is over 1,200 off Australia’s east coast. Their skies, clouds, and glaciers have been uncharacteristically discolored. The smoke haze has even canceled tour operations. With Australia in the midst of summertime and the normal peak of their fire season around late January or early February, their disasters could only continue and worsen.
Over thirty-five years after Live Aid, the music world does it again with Fire Fight Australia, a charity concert for Australia’s brushfire relief efforts taking place Sunday, February 16th. In fact, its even been touted as a “Live Aid-style concert”! And again, Queen (+ Adam Lambert) will take the stage at ANZ Stadium for the event, which comes the day after a show on their Rhapsody Tour. They will be joined by Alice Cooper, Olivia Newton-John, k.d. lang, and many other worldwide and local music icons, some of which have yet to be announced. All proceeds will benefit Australia’s rural and regional fire services, the RSPCA Bushfire appeal, the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery and other organizations.
Concert tickets went on sale January 13th and have unfortunately sold out as of this writing. The Australian-based vendor Ticketek is the only authorized dealer, meaning that tickets purchased from anywhere else are not guaranteed to be valid and offer access to be event. As of the end of January, broadcasts of the event have been announced through Australia’s Channel Seven, Foxtel, and the 7Plus streaming service.
Live Aid was an ambitious endeavor for its time, lasting around sixteen hours between two major venues set between majorly different time zones –three venues and zones if you count Oz for Africa held in Australia the day before for that matter. Satellite broadcasting was still fairly new in 1985. Nonetheless around sixty music acts reached over a billion viewers in 110 countries and raised one hundred and fifty million pounds. Thirty-five years later, an international broadcast or live stream of some kind should be no problem. Around twenty-one acts and counting are already confirmed on the Fire Fight Australia bill, and ultimately we have the power of the internet which stars everywhere have used to react or respond to the crisis, sharing heartbreak or urging support on social media. One most significant posts was from Airbourne, an Australian rock band, who tweeted:
“Rockers worldwide – if you haven’t heard yet, Australia is literally burning – the smoke can be seen from space and has even turned the white snow caps over in New Zealand black.
“Too many Aussies have lost their loved ones – they’ve lost homes and livelihoods, and over half a billion animals have met their fate in these devastating fires.
“Firefighters – a lot of whom are volunteers – and all emergency personnel, including the large number of vets, are going way beyond the call to duty and we thank them with all of our hearts. Australia can’t survive without their staunch, courageous and never-say-die commitment to stopping these fires.
“Any help from you will be greatly appreciated and will go a long way – even just one pound, one euro, one dollar or one peso can help. Every little bit helps rockers – Australia is burning.”
Others have harnessed star power, influence, and/or their own wealth, like Sir Elton John at a recent concert drew attention to the bushfire devastation and pledged one-million dollars for relief efforts. Metallica donated $750,000 and Pink has pledged $50,000. New Jersey deathcore band, Fit for an Autopsy, and Blink-182 have geared merchandise sales towards fundraising. As news of the brushfire disasters have gone global in the last month or so, the calls to action and responses alone, ahead of the concert event itself at that, are what really have been “Live Aid-style”.
What can you do? Below are links to a few organizations taking donations or to merchandise sales supporting relief efforts or to other information about the disasters or charity efforts. This list just came together from this article’s source material and a little additional research and is by no means comprehensive, but ideally its a starting point for someone interested in lending a hand or knowing more.
https://firefightaustralia.com/– get a live album recording of the concert event
https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/volunteer/support-your-local-brigade – Donates to the New South Whales rural fire service
https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/about/supporting-cfa#donate-cash – Donates to Country Fire Authority; based in the state of Victoria
https://cfsfoundation.org.au/donate – Donates to Country Fire Service Foundation; supports volunteer firefighters
https://www.wires.org.au/donate/emergency-fund – Donates to WIRES Wildlife Rescue