Australasian News: Bluesfest Boosts Aussie Economy; WOMAD, Bay Dreams Return To New Zealand & More


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Bluesfest Festival Grounds (Image courtesy of Bluesfest)

Bluesfest Boosts Aussie Economy By $272M

An economic impact study of Bluesfest Byron Bay over five days in April reported it boosted the national gross regional product by A$272 million ($187.8 million), created 2,149.4 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs, spent A$108.8 million ($75.1 million) in wages and salaries with an outlay of A$459.2 million ($317 million).

The study by Reuben Lawrence Consulting, published July 21, also looked at the event’s effect on Byron Shire, the Northern Rivers region and New South Wales (NSW).

Returning after two years of COVID cancellations, the event drew 101,024 patrons – 45 percent from outside NSW and who spent up to A$180 million ($124.2 million) outside the festival site on travel, accommodation and car rental.

Such figures see an extra demand for Bluesfest, revealed festival director Peter Noble.

Regional cities are pitching for one-day versions. Noble is also in negotiation with Southeast Asian countries – including Singapore and Indonesia— to stage there with flow-on bills.

“I’ve always seen the Bluesfest brand as a global one and definitely want to see it expand,” Noble said.

Elton John Encore May Head For History Books

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While Elton John continues his bittersweet goodbye to touring, the Rocket Man has added five more dates to his upcoming trek through Australia and New Zealand.  

The new shows include McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle Jan. 10, AAMI Park in Melbourne Jan. 13, Allianz Stadium in Sydney Jan. 18, Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane Jan. 21 and Orangetheory Stadium in Christchurch Jan. 24. 

The performances land ahead of the previously announced dates at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium on Jan. 27-28, which were rescheduled from February 2020. 

John is currently in the midst of his final North American dates, which will close out with three nights at Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium Nov. 17, 19 and 20. 

The “Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour” has seen many stops and starts, with an initial postponement in February 2020 after John fell ill with pneumonia.

Shortly afterward, dates continued to be postponed due to the worldwide pandemic, with John finally being able to get out on the road this year.

John ranked No. 11 on Pollstar’s list of “Top Touring Artists Of The Decade” with a total gross of $675,886,369 from the start of his career to 2019. The “Farwell Yellow Brick Road Tour” is promoted by AEG Presents and presented by Alliance for Lifetime Income, with the newly added Australiasian dates also being produced by Chugg Entertainment and Frontier Touring.

The last time Elton was Down Under, he played a total of 40 dates throughout Australia (34 dates) and New Zealand (six dates) in 2019. 

The five-city extension of Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour in January 2023 could see it in the history books Down Under.

The encore through Chugg Entertainment, Frontier Touring and AEG Presents amount to 170,000 tickets.

The first leg shifted 705,000 ti in Australia and New Zealand. The new tally of 875,000 would place it as third biggest concert tour ever, replacing Adele’s 730,000 in 2017. Ed Sheeran played to 950,000 in 2018, while Dire Straits’ “Brothers In Arms” (1986) shifted 900,000.

Splendour In The Grass’ Muddy Return

The much anticipated July 22-24 return after a two-year COVID hiatus by Byron Bay’s Splendour In The Grass was hit by relentless rain that turned North Byron Parklands into a mud bath.

Splendour explained: “The weather exceeded the forecast information we had.” It led to last-minute volunteer shortages, not helped by the fact its capacity increased to 50,000 from 35,000.

Patrons had a 15-hour wait to enter the camp site. The first day with Gorillaz, The Avalanches and Wet Leg was canceled although many acts played impromptu gigs in Byron clubs that night.

On the second day The Strokes, Glass Animals and Jack Harlow were among those who played but some catching 10:30 p.m. buses out had to wait until 6 a.m. because of insufficient drivers. Many left early, but the majority expressed glee at catching buzz acts after two years.


WOMAD, Bay Dreams Mark 2023 Return

After being canceled due to pandemic restrictions, major festivals WOMAD NZ and Bay Dreams announced their 2023 dates.

WOMAD, which did not proceed 2021 and 2022, will celebrate its 20th anniversary March 17-19 at Bowl of Brooklands and Brooklands Park. Organizers said international names will return.

The festival draws 17,000 on each of its three days, and in 2020 had an economic impact on the region of NZ$6.1 million ($3.8 million). 

With EDM star Diplo headlining, Bay Dreams stages at Trustpower Baypark in Mount Maunganui Jan. 3 to a limited 30,000, and at Trafalgar Park in Nelson Jan. 5 to 15,000.

Promoter Mitch Lowe expected up to 15,000 tix to be snapped up first day. The two shows injected NZ$10 million ($6.2 million) into the local economy.