HEARTS DOWN UNDER: Aussie members of Venetian headliners Human Nature band together to aid relief efforts toward fires ravaging their homeland
When the boys from Human Nature were back home in Australia in late November and early December, the smoke was everywhere.
“It was just extraordinary,” Toby Allen says. “The color of the sky was red and the smoke was just everywhere. I’d wake up in the morning in the hotel room thinking, ‘What if I left something on? Is something burning?’ But it just turns out the smoke is infiltrating everywhere.”
Allen thought he could get away from it for a little while, at least, in a movie matinee. Half an hour into Joker, the smoke had taken over the theater, too. The bushfires had already been burning since September. They’re still raging, affecting a staggering 41,000 square miles and killing, according to a University of Sydney estimate, a billion animals.
To help raise money to benefit relief efforts, Human Nature is donating 100 percent of proceeds from ticket sales of their Jan. 25 show at The Venetian, which falls on Australia Day, analogous to the Fourth of July in the United States.
“You think of what you can do to help,” group member Mike Tierney says. “We thought we could try to raise some money to go toward the people that are fighting the fires, but also the recovery that’s going to go on I don’t know how long. Small towns are being destroyed. We thought if the Vegas community wants to help out any way they can, coming to this show on the 25th might be a way they can feel like they’re helping a little bit.”
Allen and Tierney, plus fellow Human Nature members Phil Burton and Mike’s brother, Andrew Tierney, first came together at an agricultural school on the western edge of Sydney in New South Wales, the state hardest hit by the fires. Not far from there, west of Sydney, are the Blue Mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage Area that has seen 20 percent of its area burned, according to The Guardian.
“There are actually places I used to holiday as a kid with cousins that have been drastically affected on the south coast of New South Wales,”Allen says. “To think those areas you used to have so much fun in and enjoyed life so much could be devastated is heartbreaking. I grew up in the Blue Mountains, which is where some of the most devastating fires have been. To think places I grew up in and enjoyed have been wiped out is incomprehensible, really.”
While worldwide aid comes pouring in, Australia is entering the heart of its summer. It’s been uncommonly dry, which has contributed to the overall situation. No one knows when the fires might be fully contained.
The group will travel back to Australia early in February for a couple of weeks, when they’ll be able to reconnect with everyone living with the fires. So far, their families haven’t been endangered, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been close.
“One of my aunties was outside of Sydney,” Allen says. “She lives in a rural area by a river. They at one point had the fires coming up to the other side of the river with helicopters coming to get the water drops out of the river, which was sort of scary. There’s only so much backburning you can do. It’s vast, and a lot of it is inaccessible. There’s footage where there’s just massive, massive areas of trees that would instantly combust in this huge plume of black smoke. You can’t fight that.”
IF YOU GO: Human Nature Sings Motown & More is performed at the Sands Showroom in The Venetian hotel-casino, Tuesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 pm. All proceeds from the Jan. 25 show will benefit the Australian bushfire relief efforts. Tickets start at $49.95 plus taxes and fees. Tickets can be purchased at any Venetian box office or by calling 702-414-9000 or 866-641-7469. Tickets are also available at HumanNatureLive.com or Venetian.com.
OTHER WAYS TO HELP: Donations can be made by visiting the websites of the Australian Red Cross and the Australia Zoo . For a comprehensive list of organizations involved in relief efforts, visit The Guardian “How you can donate” page.
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