MCG rocks to Sound Relief

As rain pelted down on a sodden MCG, the irony was not lost on the 80,000-strong crowd who flocked to the Sound Relief concert on March 14, 2009.

Hastily arranged to support victims of the Victorian bushfires, the 10-hour music fest provided hope, support, inspiration and money to so many in the affected communities. It was another fine example of the MCG’s broader role as a meeting place for society and it will go down as a memorable event in the ground’s long and proud history.

It was officially Australia's biggest-ever concert, with the 80,518 fans beating the previous record set in 1993 by Guns ‘n Roses at Calder Park.

From the moment the dreadful fall-out from that fateful February 7 day became clear, talks began about a community event on a grand scale. Music promoters Michael Gudinski and Michael Chugg proposed simultaneous concerts under the Sound Relief label to raise funds not only for bushfire victims but also those ravaged by the floods in south-east Queensland.

The MCG was the logical Melbourne venue. However, the Victorian Bushrangers were likely to host the Sheffield Shield Final and had first call on use of the ‘G. After a series of talks and exploration of options, Cricket Australia and Cricket Victoria kindly agreed to relocate the final to the Junction Oval, a move for which all concerned were extremely grateful.

Everyone attending departed with a different highlight. The reforming of rock icons Midnight Oil, Hunters ‘n Collectors and Split Enz was popular with the older brigade - as was Paul Kelly’s return to the ‘G - while Gabriella Cilmi, Jet, Wolfmother, Augie March and international act Kings of Leon had the current generation in raptures.

Even Kylie Minogue made a cameo appearance, more than 10 years after her last MCG performance at the Mushroom Records 25th anniversary gig in 1998.

But the day and night belonged to the people. Young and old, from the city and country, all had gathered to pay their respects, show support, have fun and celebrate each other. Of all venues, none could have been more appropriate than the People’s Ground.