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Tones And I, Jimmy Barnes, Amy Shark & More Set for COVIDSafe Concerts Program In Australia

BRISBANE — Live music is returning to Sydney, with a little help from government.

As Australians kicked back for another weekend in lockdown, a statement dropped Saturday (June 13) from the New South Wales government detailing “Great Southern Nights,” a live music campaign featuring some of the biggest and brightest homegrown artists.

A lineup starring Tones and I, Jimmy Barnes, Birds of Tokyo, Missy Higgins, The Jungle Giants and Paul Kelly will present 1,000 gigs for Great Southern Nights, curated by ARIA and an industry advisory committee and playing out in venues across regional New South Wales and the state capital, Sydney.

Other big names booked include Thelma Plum, The Presets, Amy Shark, Tash Sultana, The Teskey Brothers and The Veronicas.

There is one slight catch. The shows don’t kick off until November. Action-starved Australians won’t mind the wait, and the program gives concert fans something to look forward to, notes Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres.

“With the NSW Government’s 24-hour economy strategy set to reinvigorate Sydney’s nightlife,” he points out, Great Southern Nights will be a “big step forward for our state’s live music and hospitality community that has been hit hard in recent times.”

These are the hardest times many Australians can remember.

The health emergency is just the latest calamity in what’s been a bitter year in these parts, as many Australians struggled with an unprecedented bushfire season and a prolonged drought in the months before COVID-19 became a trending topic.

The live music industry has lost more than $340 million in income due to this triptych of disasters, according to the I Lost My Gig platform, set up by Australian Music Industry Network and the Australian Festival Association to tally the impact on the creative community.

Venues and artists are invited to submit an expression of interest to be involved in Great Southern Nights at www.greatsouthernnights.com.au.

A string of industry organizations on Monday applauded the initiative, including APRA AMCOS, Live Performance Australia, Sounds Australia and the Live Entertainment Industry Forum.

The NSW program follows the announcement last week of Anti-Social, a series of live gigs starting this July at the Zoo in Brisbane, Queensland.

On show night, the Zoo will operate with a reduced 100 capacity and, like Great Southern Nights, the Anti-Social shows will feature all-local bills and observe physical distancing.

The music stopped across Australia in March, when the federal government enforced strict social distancing measures and closed the country’s borders.

Billboard understands a raft of southern winter-warmer shows will be trialed around the country in July, to coincide with relaxations on health and safety restrictions.

Australia’s live industry got a boost last Friday (June 12) when prime minister Scott Morrison announced socially-distanced crowds of 10,000 could soon attend concerts and sporting matches, and the 100-capacity rule on indoor gatherings could soon be scrapped, depending on coronavirus infection rates in the weeks ahead.

Outdoor festivals will be allowed under these new plans, but promoters would need to offer seating to guests.

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