18th February 2020

 Fire Fight Australia – Concert for National Bushfire Relief - Fan Feature by Jane Remedio

Queen + Adam Lambert - Fire Fight Australia – Concert for National Bushfire Relief - Sunday 16th February ANZ Stadium Sydney Australia

Just one word, unprecedented, that’s how they are describing the Summer of 2019/20 here in Australia. Just one powerful word that encapsulates the horror that the worst bushfires in living memory can cause. The statistics are stark over 18 million hectares burned - that’s an area bigger than the size of England. 33 lives lost including firefighters from Australia and the USA. An estimated 2,680 homes lost. An estimated One Billion wild animals have perished including species faced with an imminent threat of extinction.  And that doesn’t even begin to describe the fear of being caught in a raging bushfire with an unstoppable fire front bearing down upon you. Survivors describe the oncoming noise like that of a roaring jet engine, embers rain down like fire, the sky turns red and day turns to night, its hell on earth. Further afield ash drifted down onto once-pristine beaches, toxic smoke-shrouded cities; it drifted along past the Tasman Sea and across the globe to South America. In the aftermath, all that remains is a blackened landscape, broken dreams and ash. If there is one band that understands the support it takes to recover and rise like a phoenix from the ashes it’s Queen + Adam Lambert. 

Fire Fight Australia – A concert for national bushfire relief was borne from the outpouring of empathy from Australians and those worldwide shocked by the imagery on our screens; and the need to support the victims, survivors, wildlife, and townships affected by this tragedy. In times like these the music, community does what it does best by coming together to use the unifying power of live music to encourage 70,000 concert goers, those at live sites across the nation and viewers on big and small screens to open their hearts and donate, to create hope and help communities rebuild and recover.

Queen + Adam Lambert was supportive from the moment Australia reached out by not only agreeing to play but donating some of their staging from their previous night’s gig. 

The broadcast began at 1 pm with a montage of news footage of the devastation caused by the fires finishing with an aerial view of the stadium. The entire introduction was blanketed with Queen music. It was a signal of appreciation from the promoters, networks and the artists involved to Queen + Adam Lambert and their crew for everything they did to make the event happen. The crew worked well into the early hours to strip down sections of the stage ready for it to be rebranded for the Fire Fight concert the next day.

After an afternoon of acts like Conrad Sewell, Grinspoon, Ronan Keating, Tina Arena, 5 Seconds of Summer (5 SOS) and Alice Cooper, Queen + Adam Lambert hit the stage at 8:25 pm. They entered via a special tunnel entrance 70 metres long under the stage.  As the house lights went up there was a roar from the crowd that could be heard kilometres away. Their set began with ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and as they segued into ‘Radio Ga Ga’ there was a higher level of excitement from the crowd as they realised that they were recreating the now-famous set from Live Aid.  Footage of Freddie Mercury’s Ay-oh call and response from Wembley 1986 was beamed onto the screens and echoed back at full volume by the audience. ‘Hammer to Fall’, ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ and ‘We Will Rock You’ followed. As they brought the set home with ‘We Are the Champions’ lit phones were held aloft in solidarity, the crowd knew how special this was and that they were witnesses to a piece of rock history. The press is calling it Live Aid Down Under. Others say they stole the show…again!

Queen + Adam Lambert’s set energised the crowd, it brought them together as one and donations poured in whilst they were on stage. By the close of the concert $9.5 million had been raised. 

It had always been Brian May’s dream to play live with Australian singer John Farnham and that dream came true when he was welcomed on stage to perform ‘You’re the Voice’ the final song of the night albeit without the original Red Special. As a fitting finale Firefighters dressed in their yellow protective gear were welcomed on stage as the last refrains from the song rang out. 

After the show, Brian May said of Queen’s involvement: ‘Awesome. I don’t think I’ve felt quite like that since Live Aid’. Those sentiments were echoed by the crowd; as they left the stadium Queen t-shirts were only second to the official Firefight Australia t-shirts as the most popular attire worn. When asked by roving reporters who their favourite of the 23 acts who had played were, the majority answered Queen. 

As a grateful crowd tumbled onto public transport or crawled into their beds at home the nation felt uplifted and hopeful for the future. Thanks, Queen + Adam Lambert, we love you!

Donations are still being accepted at www.firefightaustralia.com

 *** Proceeds from this event go to bushfire Rescue, Relief and Recovery and Rehabilitation programs in affected states across Australia.

(photo: Jordan Munns)