Australia: Ed Sheeran, Sydney City Limits, Young Thug Cancels, The King’s Arms

Inaugural Sydney City Limits Off To Strong Start

The inaugural Sydney version of Austin City Limits staged Feb. 24 to a strong draw of 20,000 at Centennial Park – and to strong reviews.

Presented by Secret Sounds, Live Nation and C3 Presents, there were strong sets from Justice, Beck, Future, Phoenix, Grace Jones, Sigri, Thundercat, and The Libertines, as well as Australia’s The Avalanches, Vance Joy, Gang of Youths, Tkay Maidza, Tash Sultana and Dune Rats

Maidza was a last minute stand-in after Atlanta rapper Young Thug pulled out. According to Live Nation Australia, he was “unable to comply with the requirements for processing his Australian entry visa application.” He was also to do some headline club dates in Brisbane and Melbourne.

Visa issues in January 2017 caused Young Thug to pull out of Laneway festival shows in Australia and New Zealand.

As he already had a New Zealand visa granted Feb. 12, Live Nation was trying to get him to fulfill obligations for Auckland City Limits at Western Springs March 3 and Outer Limits at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin March 2. But the promoter announced Feb. 26 that he cancelled.

Aussie Live Entertainment Tackles Sexual Harassment, Bullying

The Australian live entertainment business is taking a strong stance in eradicating discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment and bullying in the workplace.

Live Performance Australia (LPA), the sector’s peak music association, released a draft Code of Behaviour Feb. 26 for feedback from members. While many already have policies and procedures to deal with complaints, LPA chief executive Evelyn Richardson says the code reflects the importance of an industry-wide commitment to long-term cultural change.

“People who work in our industry expect and deserve leadership from us on these issues, as do our audiences and the wider community,” she said.

LPA also is planning initiatives including a roadshow to educate CEOs, company owners and senior managers on the code and include specialist workplace training, participate in an industry roundtable being convened by the Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Commissioner, will work closer with the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance union on the issue and examining options of better workplace training.

The Association of Artist Managers (AAM), which has 220 active managers and part of the global Music Managers Forum, announced Feb. 26 it has updated its 12-clause Code of Conduct to include one on sexual harassment. It warns, on the consequence of expulsion from the association: “To not engage in any acts of sexual harassment including unwanted, unwelcome or uninvited behaviour of a sexual nature, which makes a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated.”

Auckland’s Famed The King’s Arms Goes Dark

One of Auckland’s legendary music venues, The King’s Arms, is going dark Feb. 28 after 20 years. Its owner Maureen Gordon died at age 86 last October, and the building will be demolished to make way for apartments.

Bleeders’ singer Angelo Munro described it as “the CGBG of Auckland,” not only for the number of unknown acts it launched – including Mint Chicks, The Datsuns, Die! Die! Die!, The D4 and Pan Am – but for the many scenes it fostered. Gordon never did work out the club’s capacity (550) and would happily sell 800 tickets when international acts such as Lloyd Cole, Peaches, and The Misfits came through.

Gordon’s family is offering framed, 30-centimeter sections of the stage for NZ$200 ($146) to NZ$250 ($183), each framed with a plaque. However, fans have been souveniring items since the building was sold including the lightbox venue sign from the roof, toilet signs, photographs and trophies.

Ed Sheeran Record-Breaking Tour Gets Bigger 

Ed Sheeran
John Salangsang / Invision / AP
– Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran makes a stop at KIIS FM Jingle Ball at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., Dec. 1.

Ed Sheeran’s Australian/New Zealand tour, which set a record by selling more than 950,000 tickets in one run, has gotten bigger.

Before it kicks off 18 stadium shows March 2 at the new Optus Stadium in Perth, his production team reviewed sight lines and green lighted 5,500 more tickets for release – 4,500 in Sydney and 1,000 in Perth.

Following the addition of Missy Higgins for all Australian dates, Drax Project for Auckland and Six60 for Dunedin, five more acts are also on the bill.

Irish singer/songwriter Ryan McMullan, who was on Sheeran’s European run, opens for the three Sydney shows. Another personal Sheeran choice, up-and-coming Sydney singer/songwriter Fergus James, is in Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane while Australian hip-hop act Bliss n Eso are included for the four Melbourne shows. Wellington folk duo Lost Bird play the three Auckland stops and Mitch James plays the three Dunedin dates.