MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Some of the biggest names in Australian music, both past and present, take to the stage Saturday for Australia’s largest ever fund-raising concert and show support for victims of the nation’s deadly bushfires.
About 120,000 people will attend concerts held simultaneously in Melbourne and Sydney that were organized after 210 people died and 10,000 were left homeless by last month’s Victorian bushfires — Australia’s worst natural disaster in more than a century.
Three defunct bands are reuniting for the concerts billed jointly under the banner Sound Relief. Australian pop star Kylie Minogue is flying in to act as master of ceremonies.
Expatriate Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees will also fly back to Australia to perform and Olivia Newton-John is also expected to appear at the Sydney concert that will be opened by U.S. band Coldplay, which is currently on tour in Australia.
“With the help of the Australian Music Community, these concerts hope to bring people together,” Michael Chugg, head of one organizer Chugg Entertainment, said in a statement.
“We will remember those who have lost so much, and celebrate the heroes of this devastating story.”
A minute’s silence will be held during the evening.
Ticket agency Ticketek said the event at Melbourne Cricket Ground was sold out with 79,000 people paying $75 a ticket, making it Australia’s biggest paid concert by topping the previous record crowd of nearly 75,000 for Guns n’ Roses in 1993.
A crowd of 40,000 will attend Sydney Cricket Ground.
“It’s just an amazing result,” Michael Gudinski of Frontier Touring Company said in a statement.
“It’s truly impressive how much the Australian public has gotten behind this. It speaks volumes of the passion of our great country - helping a mate in trouble.”
Bands reforming for the day include Midnight Oil — whose lead singer, Peter Garrett, is now a minister in the Australian government — Split Enz, and Hunters and Collectors.
The Melbourne line-up also includes U.S. singer Jack Johnson, Augie March, Gabriella Cilmi, Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson with Troy Cassar-Daley, Liam Finn, Paul Kelly, Wolfmother and Bliss N Eso with Paris Wells.
The Sydney concert will feature The Presets, Josh Pyke, Eskimo Joe, The Hoodoo Gurus, Jet, Icehouse, Little Birdy, You Am I and the Midnight Juggernauts and be closed by Gibb.
“I shall be there with wings on my heels to help in any way I can the victims of this terrible disaster, let’s make it count for all of them,” Gibb said in a statement.
All profits from the Melbourne show will go to the Red Cross Victorian Bushfire Appeal to help victims of the bushfires while the Sydney funds will be split between the bushfire appeal and a disaster relief fund for flood victims in Queensland.
(Additional reporting by Belinda Goldsmith)
Editing by Bill Tarrant