Comedian Russell Howard first international act to play Aus and NZ

Live Nation Asia Pacific has welcomed its first international act in Australia since COVID-19 cancelled most tours over a year ago with British comedian Russell Howard currently touring the country.

The comedian landed on Australian soil after completing 19 shows across nine cities in New Zealand.

Howard, who was required to quarantine, will be the first international act to play both Australia and New Zealand since last year.

Live Nation Asia Pacific president Roger Field Both, told The Industry Observer: “Australian and New Zealand governments have done an effective job managing the COVID-19 pandemic, which has enabled us to get back to live events a lot sooner than other markets.

“The next test, particularly for Australia will be finding the balance as we reopen and return to living a reasonably normal life. Something New Zealand has excelled at so far.”

Field said The Australian Open tennis grand slam event was an “incredibly important” aspect of learning how to produce all aspects of international events, in addition to the return of crowds to sport during the latter parts of the season.

The priority, he added, needs to be for all Australian State governments to work together to establish a framework where artists can move freely around the country, and similarly provide financial risk underwriting in the event of restrictions being imposed at short notice.

Despite the industry taking a beating during 2020 due to COVID-19, Field said the silver lining is that domestic acts have the spotlight to themselves for the moment.

He pointed to New Zealand, which saw an all-domestic lineup for Rhythm and Vines festival, which proved “hugely popular for fans who have been incredibly supportive.” Also, in October, the country had a live audience of nearly 20,000, for the Live Nation event featuring local artist BENEE at the Spark Arena in Auckland, while Crowded House headed out on a 10-city tour in New Zealand playing 12 dates.

Field said: “As an industry that’s normally run off its feet, we’ve also had the opportunity to consider what we do, and how we do it.

“There’s been some great innovation and lateral thought, as well as the perfect storm of reasons for our industry to come together with a common set of goals, and clearly articulate our financial and social importance to Governments.”

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