Tina Arena: ‘I love Mardi Gras so it’s going to be a good one’
SYDNEY: ARIA Hall of Fame inductee Tina Arena gets up close and personal with an intimate concert part of Mardi Gras’ program for The Harbour. By Jason Bartlett.
A quarter century ago, a tiny pop performer strapped herself into a mesh bodysuit, leather corset fishnet and suspenders, got onto a hydraulic lift and was launched onto the stage at the Horden Pavilion and into gay icon status.
That appearance at the 1991 Mardi Gras Party sparked an emotional bond between Tina Arena and her legions of gay fans that has never been severed.
“When the audience saw me they went absolutely mad. There was so much love in that room. It felt like they were all saying, ‘Yeah! She’s finally grown up and isn’t she gorgeous’,” she wrote in her 2013 autobiography Now I Can Dance.
“In a funny way, that night felt like my coming out. It was another nail in the coffin for Tiny Tina and it felt great. The music was so loud it blew my ears off. It was an awesome night that I’ll never forget. Ever.”
Fast forward 25 years and more than 10 million albums later, and the LGBTI community is set to fall in love with the legendary chanteuse all over again at a special concert on Sydney Harbour.
Tina Arena at The Harbour on Thursday, 25 February, at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair will be a highlight of the 2016 Mardi Gras calendar. It will see the entertainment veteran take the stage in front of 1000 lucky fans to belt out some hits – and some special surprises.
She will also perform at the after party for the 2016 Mardi Gras next month – for the fourth time.
“I’ve had some wonderful experiences there, the second time I did it I was pregnant with my son Gab,” she told SX.
“It’s usually a great party and I hope the 2016 one is amazing!”
As for the exclusive Harbour event on the 25th, it will see Arena, who has the vocal range of a soprano and a career spanning more than 40 years, get up close and personal with some of her most loyal fans.
“Smaller shows allow you to connect with the audience more,” she said.
“This Mardi Gras show is super intimate, I haven’t done a 1000-seater for a long time in Sydney, so it’s going to be very special. I’ve never played an outdoor show on Sydney harbour and I love Mardi Gras so it’s going to be a good one!”
Arena, who was recently inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame, has known her special appeal to LGBTI fans since she was in her teens, however, she can’t put it down to just one thing.
“I don’t think about that very often and it’s difficult for me to be objective on that,” she mused.
“I think I’m a fighter and a survivor. I think I’ve worked hard and tried to release quality music and never been too complacent and taken things for granted. And I always speak my mind! I guess the community and I have those things in common.”
Her stream of hits stretching back decades helps as well, many of them have a particular resonance with the gay audience, like ‘I Need Your Body’, ‘Chains’ and ‘Burn’.
“‘Heaven Help My Heart’ is always well received,” she said.
As to what her audience can expect at the one-off harbour event ?
“I’m not telling you too much!” she laughed.
“DJ Dan Murphy will set the mood. People can have a few drinks and soak up that view.
“I’m playing a few songs I haven’t done live for a long time, and maybe a surprise guest, a few dancers. I’m working with Kelley Abbey on a few ideas – just wait and see.”
Tina Arena at The Harbour, Thursday, February 25, 6pm, Fleets Steeps, Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. Tix from mardigras.org.au.