New Year's Eve performances are some of the most anticipated gigs on Australia's entertainment calendar.
Established and up-and-coming artists typically perform to thousands as fireworks light-up the sky. But this year performers will be playing to an empty Sydney Opera House forecourt and Sidney Myer Music Bowl because of COVID-19.
Singer-songwriter Odette will perform at the Sydney Opera House to mark the New Year. Credit:Kitty Callaghan
Authorities have fenced off parts of the Sydney Harbour foreshore in a bid to prevent crowds from gathering to watch the New Year's Eve fireworks in person. The developments mean Sydney has joined Melbourne in encouraging New Year's Eve revellers to stay home at home.
Residents of Victoria have been told only to travel into the city for New Year's if they have a restaurant booking. The City of Melbourne has also cancelled this year's fireworks display.
People can still watch the Sydney and Melbourne New Year's Eve concerts, as well as the Sydney Harbour Fireworks, on the ABC.
Vera Blue.Credit:Louie Douvis
UK-born Australian singer-songwriter Georgia Sallybanks, who performs as Odette, is one of the artists due to take part in the televised celebrations. She said she is disappointed there won't be a live crowd outside the Opera House, but said it was fitting given everything that has happened this year.
"I haven't played to a [large] crowd since… the beginning of the year," she said. "That was forever ago. This year has been a complete garbage fire. So it is was it is. But it's nice to know people will be listening and there will be that connection regardless of whether they're there or not."
As part of the New Year's Eve celebrations, Odette will perform a tribute to the late singer Helen Reddy. The Australian-American songwriter, best known for her hit 1970s single I Am Woman, died in September. She was 78 years old.
"I wanted to pay homage to her and her strength," Odette said. "I did get to meet her a couple of years back at this gala in LA. She was a lovely woman. So inspirational. My grandmother loved her too."
Fellow New Year's Eve performer Celia Pavey, who goes by the stage name Vera Blue, said it was an honour to play at the Sydney Opera House given she's only done a handful of gigs this year due to travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders. She said TV viewers can expect a "summery, upbeat" feel to this year's concert.
"It'll be pretty strange without an audience in front of us," she said. "Hopefully people can keep their spirits up, stay home, stay safe and start the year positively."
An ABC spokesman said the public broadcaster was working hard to ensure people all around the country could participate in New Year's festivities from the safety and comfort of their own homes.
"Producing live television entertainment without an audience is something we have become used to this year," he said.
"We have just under 200 ABC staff working on the night to bring everyone here and around the world the very best Australian entertainment."
The ABC's New Year's Eve coverage will be hosted by Rove McManus, Zan Rowe and Charlie Pickering from 8.30pm. Other musical acts set to perform include Paul Kelly, Amy Shark and Casey Donovan.
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