Australia has always been the world's poor cousin when it comes to big concert tours. Our location at the bottom of the globe far away from any other major first world country and the subsequent costs of lugging jumbo jets full of equipment down here mean big name acts often pass on by due to the lack of profit involved. The two biggest world tours of 2012 - Madonna's MDNA and Bruce Springsteen's Wrecking Ball - failed to appear anywhere near our neck of the woods generating much outrage, heated discussion on morning chat shows and hysterical Madonna fans burning her records on YouTube. Someone must have given Springsteen food for thought and he has now deigned to visit us in 2013 with Wrecking Ball - although its 'Part 2' status still makes us feel a bit unloved Bruce - whilst Madonna is still too busy banking the $305.2 million her tour made to consider her next foray down under.
Never fear music fans, we may be ignored by some but 2013 is shaping up to be a good year on the live music front with something to suit all tastes. Here are five of the biggest to whet your appetite…
One Direction - Up All Night Tour Pass the smelling salts Aunty Mavis, the One Direction boys are coming to Sydney in October. Originally planned for September, the entire Australian tour allegedly sold out in three minutes. Due to a "scheduling conflict" (sounds a bit iffy to me - did someone forget to tell them they were due in Australia for 3 weeks?) the concerts have now been rescheduled for October, so there's every chance you still might be able to snap up a ticket.
In case you have been living under a rock for the past two years, One Direction are Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan, Harry Styles and Zayn Malik and they first shot to fame as contestants on the UK's The X-Factor in 2010. As unlikely as it seemed at the time (they only finished third), the band quickly became an international sensation, with hit singles in almost every territory in the world, including the USA, which traditionally is one of the hardest music markets to break into. Akin to the Beatles in the 1960s the band provoke scenes of mass hysteria wherever they appear and have built up a passionate fan base. In less than two years they have sold 14 million records worldwide, fairly impressive when you consider they have only realised two albums and 8 singles.
The tour consists of 117 shows world wide including 22 across Australia and New Zealand. One Direction will play in Sydney at the Allphones Arena on 5, 6, 23, 24, 25 & 26 Oct 2013. The setlist contains 21 tracks including a cover of the Wheatus classic 'Teenage Dirtbag' and the band's latest single, a mash-up of new wave classics originally performed by Blondie and The Undertones 'One Way or Another (Teenage Kicks)'.
Tickets, if any are left by the time you read this, are available at Ticketek.
Paul Simon And now for something completely different...
At the opposite end of the musical spectrum to One Direction is Paul Simon, who after brief appearances earlier in the year at Byron Bay Bluesfest and the West Coast Blues N Roots Festival, has announced he will be undertaking a full Australian tour.
Renowned as one of the greatest singer-songwriters ever to grace the world of popular music, Simon first found fame and success in 1964 as part of the folk-pop duo Simon & Garfunkel. Worldwide hits such as 'The Sound Of Silence', 'Bridge over Troubled Water' and 'Mrs Robinson' followed before the band split in 1970. Simon then pursued a solo career, with perhaps his finest moment coming in 1986 with the album Graceland and its hit single 'You Can Call Me Al'. No longer a regular on the music charts, Simon experienced renewed exposure last year when a 25th anniversary edition of Graceland was released, returning him to the charts across the world including a peak of number 12 in Australia and number 4 in the UK.
This tour will feature Simon performing tracks from throughout his career, from his early folk days, to Simon & Garfunkel and through to solo work including Graceland and his most recent album, 2011's critically acclaimed So Beautiful or So What.
Paul Simon will play the Hope Estate in the Hunter Valley on March 30 followed by one date only in Sydney, at the Entertainment Centre on Tuesday April 2. Rufus Wainwright will appear at both dates as the support act, Jimmy Cliff will also perform at the Hope Estate show.
Alecia Beth Moore, better known to you and me as Pink, has rather a lot of fans in Australia. Around 660,000 to be precise, which is the number of tickets sold to her record breaking 2009 Funhouse tour, the biggest ever tour in our nation's history. Her 58 sold-out shows over three months grossed $60 million, which staggeringly made up 40% of the total gross the show made over 151 worldwide dates. This time around, Pink has already announced 42 shows and with plenty of room in the schedule there's every chance she will break her own record she set in 2009.
The Truth About Love Tour is one of the most anticipated concerts of the year and marks Pink's first concerts in Australia for four years. It's safe to say the music won't veer very far from Pink's usual rock-pop style, but the show promises to be visually stunning with images from the American performances showing aerial aerobatics and Pink flying to the back of the arena to bring the front of stage experience to those in the cheap seats.
Pink will play 11 concerts in Sydney in two blocks. The first shows are at the Sydney Entertainment Centre between July 30 and August 10th and the second block takes place at Allphones Arena on 2nd, 4th & 5th September. At the time of writing tickets were available for all shows, including the True Love package which not only gives you admission to the concert but a special VIP Entrance, a one-hour pre-show party with drinks and snacks and an exclusive tour gift.
Tickets are available now from Ticketek and Ticketmaster and start at $109.90. All tickets come with the option to buy Pink's latest album The Truth About Love at a reduced price.
It was big news in the music industry when Aerosmith announced their upcoming Australian tour in late February. Despite having played almost 2,000 gigs in their career, only eight of those have been in Australia and it has been a massive 23 years since the rockers last played here.
Aerosmith are probably more famous now for lead singer Steven Tyler and his stint on American Idol, but you might be surprised to learn they are the biggest selling American rock band of all time, hitting the 150 million mark which is technically classed as 'rather a lot'. Inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2001 the band has released 15 albums since their formation in 1970 including their latest Music from Another Dimension! released late last year. Australia has been a happy hunting ground for Aerosmith and they have achieved more number one singles in this country than anywhere else in the world, including the spooky and dark but rather brilliant Janie's Got A Gun and karaoke favourite I Don't Want To Miss A Thing. Perhaps 'forgetting' to tour Australia for eons helps record sales? (see also Madonna and Bruce Springsteen).
Aerosmith are living by the treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen philosophy and are playing a paltry three gigs in Australia, one each in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Sydney is definitely the gig to be at with the ANZ Stadium turned into a mini rock festival for the evening of 28th April with local rock legends Wolfmother, Grinspoon, Kingswood, Spiderbait and Diva Demolition all performing at the concert along with official support act The Dead Daisies. Sydney, get ready to rawk.
Tickets start at $129 and are available now from Ticketek.
The xx - Night & Day tour
Pink, Aerosmith and Paul Simon represent the safe, established face of music, but this list is going to end where it begun with a band that are very much the future of music. And that is probably the last time you'll hear accusations The xx and One Direction have something in common.
The current darlings of indie pop, The xx take up where Everything but the Girl left off with a dreamy but awkward indie-synth-pop-electro-dance style that almost defies description. The band formed in London in 2005 by Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim who were joined by Jamie Smith a year later. It wasn't until 2009 that their first album xx was released, which promptly reached the top 5 in the UK and topped The Guardian's Albums of the Year chart. The rest of the world was a little slower to cotton on and it was only with last year's release of Co-exist that world domination began. The album hit number 1 in the UK, number 2 in Australia and more importantly, top 5 in the USA (something else they have in common with One Direction…). A North American tour followed and that tour now brings the band back to Australia. They first visited in 2012 playing two intimate shows in Sydney and Melbourne that sold out instantly.
This time around the band are playing a larger venue, the Hordern Pavilion, although this choice of venue has faced some criticism from fans who feel the Hordern is not suited to the more delicate sounds of The xx. To be fair to whoever made that choice, the first show sold out in nano-seconds so it looks like most fans are willing to take the risk. A second show was speedily added to the excitement of all and tickets are still available if you get in quick. If you miss out consider a road trip to Perth, Melbourne or Brisbane where the band are also playing.
The xx play the Hordern Pavilion on the 6th & 7th April. Tickets start at $90 and are available from Ticketek.