FIRE AID Concerts Fantastic!

By Michael Barker

Fremantle People did what they do best last Friday and Saturday nights, 31 January and 1 February 2020 – they rose to a heartfelt cause, in this case bushfire relief for our friends in fire-ravaged Eastern parts of our wide land, and attended sell-out Fire Aid concerts at Fremantle Arts Centre headlined by the amazing John Butler and supported superbly by San Cisco, The Waifs, Stella Donnelly and Carla Geneve.

The Shipping News was at the Saturday night concert. We were wowed by each of the performers. Carla Geneve started the ball rolling, just as Stella Donnelly had done on the Friday night. The Waifs then strutted their stuff to a very appreciative audience. San Cisco followed. What a polished and talented set of musos they are. And then along came John Butler. What he can’t do with a guitar probably can’t be done. You’d think he was performing with 10 support artists, but it was just him.

The purpose of the evening was reinforced early on when Donna Simpson read a poetic and poignant letter from a friend on the fire-front in Southern New South Wales.

Later, Butler did much the same when he introduced his rendition of Danny Boy with the touching story of how his grandfather had died fighting a bushfire near Nannup in 1958, on 2 February of that year.

All this happened under perfect Western skies. As the sun set, the wind dropped, the sounds soared and the mosh pit filled to overflowing. In the ‘back stalls’ the older demographics, and some younger ones, could be seen nestling amongst the pine trees, looking over the Port, and reminiscing about all the wonderful Fremantle Art Centre concerts they’d attended over the years!

Philip Stevens, the manager of John Butler, The Waifs, San Cisco and Stella Donnelly, also made an entrance from stage left just before Butler’s set commenced. Managers are not often seen or heard at music gigs – at least not from the stage – but on this occasion an exception was called for. Stevens was the driving force that saw these concerts happen in record quick time. And with justified pride he announced that the concerts had raised in excess of $650,000 by way of Fire Aid. Take a bow Phil Stevens!

The artists and the army of volunteers who made the concerts such moving occasions, deserve great praise. As does Fremantle Arts Centre and the City of Fremantle for embracing the concerts without hesitation.

For those who missed the concerts, and for those who want to relive them, you will soon be able to buy a live recording of the performances. Keep an eye out on for the recording at