It was the day when all of Australia pitched together to raise money for all of those that suffered during the devastating bushfires and Subculture was there to make sure we kept you right up to date. Here are all of our reviews of the artists playing at Fire Fight Australia.
Poor Lee Kernaghan had the unfortunate task of kicking of Fire Fight Australia to a near empty stadium. He didn’t let that worry him though and after a mellow start his catchiness caught on and had the small crowd starting to sway along to things. His highlights were clearly the beautiful duet ‘Where I Want to Be’ which saw his wife Robby X join him on stage. Then anybody who was already caught up with the emotion of the day would have had it flow over them as Kernaghan launched into his final song – the thought provoking ‘Spirit Of The Anzacs’ which he dedicated to all the firies who have put their lives on the line this summer.
Conrad Sewell arrived on stage looking like a very young John Farnham and then delivered with the voice to match. Festivals like this are important to artists like Sewell as it opens up their music to a lot of people who perhaps would have never have heard their music before. With that in mind Sewell really delivered. He eased into things with ‘Start Again’ before his backing singers really kicked in on ‘Healing Hands’ almost making themselves sound like a choir. Anyone that doubted the talent of Sewell though was really put in their place though with his amazing falsetto vocals on ‘Changing’.
Somebody had to finally get the crowd moving that that somebody ended up being indigenous rapper Baker Boy. His loud clothing really made a statement… as did his music. He fused all genres together and rap suddenly turned to didgeridoo, but more important was the fact that his tracks like ‘Cool As Hell’ seemed to get the crowd moving and on their feet.
Of course this wouldn’t have been an Australian music festival without one of Australia’s best performers – Daryl Braithwaite. As usual though Braithwaite did not disappoint. He overcame early microphone issues to deliver a great version of ‘As The Days Go By.’ That was quickly followed up by ‘One Summer’ which again had the crowd singing along. Then came the song that everyone wanted to hear from him – ‘Horses.’ Once again the crowd joined in and even MC Celeste Barber returned to the stage to ride across on her wooden ‘horsey.’ One thing became very apparent as the strong crowd sang along, even acapella at time, more people know the words to ‘Horses’ than do the words of the national anthem.
The Aussie rock royalty then continued with Pete Murray arriving on stage and going straight into a mellow version of ‘Opportunity.’ The audience then joined in again as the sweet acoustic sounds of ‘Better Days’ filled ANZ Stadium and we were once again reminded of what an amazing artist Murray is. That audience then listened in total silence as the beautiful sound of ‘So Beautiful’ filled the stadium. He then closed the set with a great performance of ‘Feeler’ and once again we were reminded just why Pete Murray is one of the best Aussie artists going around.
The grunt finally arrived on stage with alternative rockers Grinspoon. They started out mellow with ‘Chemical Heart’ but then hit full stride when they launched into ‘Just Ace.,’ the track that finally see some moshing start. They intensity continued with the ferocity of “Lost Control’ leaving those that were there for the pop artists a little confused. To close out their set they celebrated the fact it was Sunday by delivering another fan favourite – ‘Hard Act To Follow.’
ANZ Stadium then become part central as Australia’s soul queen took to the stage. Jess Mauboy kicked off with ‘Saturday Night’ before the funky guitar riffs of ‘Can I Get A Moment’ took over. She then toned it back a little with ‘Honesty’ a song that really did showcase the fact that she has one of the finest singing voices in Australia. The energy returned then as she performed ‘We’ve Got Love’ a track that now means a hell of a lot more to Australians then it did when she performed it at Eurovision. Lyrics like ‘don’t give up’ now have an entirely different meaning to Australians than they did a few months ago.
The new wave of Australian music then went on show with rapper Illy bringing some sweet, melodic rap as he started out with ‘Then What.’ He really found his groove though with ‘Catch 22’ as he crooned ‘stay another round’ and you just knew that people were hitting up Spotify to add it to their collection. Then in act of sheer bravery (or should that be stupidity) Illy decided to debut his new single ‘Last Laugh’ in front of a lazy 70,000 people, the biggest crowd he has ever played in front of. He then showed more of his skills with an stunning rendition of ‘Paper Cuts.’
Anyway who had forgotten the power of Guy Sebastian’s voice was very quickly reminded as he launched into the soulful ‘Bloodstone’ before following it up with ‘Before I Go (You’ll Know My Name)’ a track that took his voice to even deeper depths. Sebastian then showed his talent by rapping while holding an acoustic guitar as he performed both his part and Lupe Fiasco’s during their hit ‘Battle Scars.’
The vibes at ANZ Stadium rose as Peking Duk took to the stage. A real summery vibe swept in as they belted out ‘Stranger’ and then took it to a whole new level with ‘Say My Name’, complete with some Inni Kamoze inspired melodies. In what was one of the most sombre parts of the day both members of Peking Duk shared personal stories about how they had relatives and close friends who lost their homes in the fires… it is moments like that that kept reminding us why we were all there. Rightfully so they followed the stories up with a haunting rendition of ‘Take Me Over.’ To finish off they closed with ‘High’ which had the audience screaming the moment the first strains started to play… yes Peking Duk were one of the highlights of the day.
Delta Goodrem walked onto the stage draped in the Australian flag looking more like a prize fighter walking into the ring rather than a singer about to sing in front of one of the biggest crowds she will ever perform in. She quickly won over the audience with a cover of The Seekers’ ‘I Am Australian’ before then performing one of her biggest hits – ‘Born To Try.’ Then while seated at her piano Goodrem performed the song she wrote during these fires – the extremely emotional ‘Let It Rain’ while reminding us all that when Australian hurts we all hurt. Goodrem then sent all of her fans into raptures with a melody that consisted of some of her biggest songs.
Next to take to the stage was honorary Australian Ronan Keating who flew in from Malaysia just to perform at Fire Fight. He kicked off with of his biggest hits ‘Lovin’ Each Day’ before then crooning ‘When You Say Nothing In’ while walking through the crowd. Keating then kept the hits coming when he sang ‘Rollercoaster’ which again had the audience joining in.
Tina Arena’s set started with a funky flashback to her past with ‘The Machine’s Breaking Down’ before continuing the flashback with ‘Chains.’ While many Australians would have not seen Arena perform for a number of years she showed that she has a strong fan base when singing ‘Heaven Help My Heart’ and having a lot of audience joining with her. Then in a complete shock Arena delivered one of the biggest surprises of the night when she rocked it out when a cover of The Divinyl’s hit ‘Boys In Town.’ Now we know that Arena is that good at rock… we can only hope that one day we see her do a rock album… seriously everybody people were freakin’ head-banging to Tina Arena.
Looking like a rock n roll pirate Alice Cooper stormed onto the stage and launched into ‘Department Of Youth’ before Nita Strauss took centre-stage with an epic guitar solo in the middle of ‘I’m Eighteen.’ The youngsters in the audience then got a rock lesson as Alice and band took it to the next level with an energetic version of his greatest hit ‘Poison.’ It was then time for the teeny boppers in the audience to duck for cover as Alice’s fans started to mosh during ‘Schools Out.’
Amy Shark showed why she is one of the biggest stars in the Australian music scene at the moment with a mellow version of ‘I Adore You’ before launching into ‘All Loved Up’ while looking at home performing in a stadium. Her electronic and more aggressive sound then came through with ‘Mess Her Up.’ One of the highlights was the motivational speech she gave before ‘I Said Hi’when she reminded Australia that we are one of the strongest countries in the world and that we should never give up. Continuing to watch Amy Shark grow as a performer has been one of the highlights of being a music journalist in Australia over the past few years and seeing her perform so well in front of a stadium audience has been one of my highlights of the past couple of years.
5 SECONDS OF SUMMER
In one of the biggest shocks of the night 5 Seconds Of Summer really blew things up with an almost hard rock sound before returning to their more familiar pop punk sound of ‘Easier’. Still the epic jam in the middle of the song sounded a lot heavier than I expected they would sound. Their new track ‘No Shame’ had a catchy vibe to it as did ‘Want You Back, but nothing else matched that early hard rock sound they managed to deliver. One of the biggest cheers of the day though was reserved for when 5 Seconds Of Summer started ‘Youngblood.’ The song had their fans singing along from start to finish.
QUEEN + ADAM LAMBERT
What do you do when you are a band with a plethora of hits spanning decades but are playing a small festival slot? Queen + Adam Lambert solved that problem by beginning their set with a mash of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and ‘Radio Ga Ga.’ It was obvious from the start that Adam Lambert was at his full vocal best while Brian May showed that age certainly hasn’t sowed him down any as very soon the strains of his guitar were soon filling ANZ Stadium.
Queen then showed why they are still one of the best rock bands in the world with a high energy version of ‘Hammer To Fall’ complete with an amazing guitar solo by Mr. May himself. To follow on from that Adam Lambert then did a great mix of Elvis Presley and Freddie Mercury as the band performed ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love.’ The pumped up crowd then happily joined in when the band decided to play ‘We Will Rock You,’ there enthusiasm surprising considering many of them had now been standing for eight hours. Not even those hardened fans could match Adam Lambert’s vocals on ‘We Are The Champions’ as he reached notes that many of us could only dream about reaching. Yes, if you go back over the set list it is the same set list that played at Live Aid… respect, guys, respect.
THE HILLTOP HOODS
Following a band like Queen is never something that you would look forward to but The Hilltop Hoods did in their stride bouncing onto stage with energy as they performed ‘Leave Me Lonely’. With a full brass section their version of ‘Clark Griswold’ had a very funky vibe. They were then joined by Australian Eurovision 2020 winner Montaigne for a smooth version of ‘1955.’ Things really picked up though when the crowd started jumping as the band sang ‘Crosby Sweater.’
One of the hardest jobs of the night was given to Canadian songstress K.D. Lang who was given the task of being next on stage directly after the one minute silence for the 33 people that perished in this summer’s fires. She was up to the task though with a haunting, piano driven version of ‘The Valley’ that gave people more time to reflect on those that had lost their lives. She then followed it up with an amazingly powerful rendition of ‘Hallelujah’.
The Aussie legends kicked off their set with an atmospheric version of ‘Great Southern Land’ complete with didgeridoo, then came the moment we had all been waiting for as the band sand ‘Electric Blue’ and ordered the crowd to sing along with them… as if anybody needed any urging. They then closed their set as their fans danced along to ‘We Can Get Together.’
JOHN FARNHAM & OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN
And with the biggest cheer of the night the legend himself John Farnham walked onto stage and dove straight into ‘Age Of Reason.’ In full flight Farnham then jumped straight into ‘Pressure Down’. As the crowd begun to settle they were then whipped into a frenzy again when the recently Dame’d Olivia Newton-John joined Farnham on stage and joined him for a duet of ‘Two Strong Hearts.’ Farnham’s greatest hits package then continued and as he sang ‘That’s Freedom’ it became very clear that his vocals are still as strong as ever… there seems to be no slowing down Farnham at all.
On of the highlights of the night though was when Brian May and Adam Tambo joined Farnham on stage for ‘You’re The Voice.’ It was no secret that a few years ago May was trying to get Farnham to join Queen so this was a rare opportunity for the pair to work together… and a moment that Aussie music fans wills remember for a long time to come. We were promised that this would be a day to remember… and that moment with two music legends made sure that was certainly the case.