After celebrating the holidays, British rock legend Elton John returned to Australia this week to resume the extensive Oceanic run of his final tour — all in the midst of the nation’s devastating and ongoing bushfire disaster.
The Rocket Man singer took the stage at Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena on Tuesday for the first of two nights as part of his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour.
In the middle of an explosive three-hour set, John took the time to address the fires, which continue to burn through the state of New South Wales.
“You should all be in awe of the work that the firefighters are doing,” he told the crowd. “There are people out there who have lost their lives trying to save homes.”
After getting emotional about the tragedy, John, 72, pledged to personally donate AU$1 million towards helping Australia in its time of need.
“There are people who have lost their lives and their homes,” said the musician. “And last is the plight of the animals and loss of their habitat that, frankly, is on a biblical scale and heartbreaking.
Since the bushfires began last September, more than eight million hectares of land have been burned.
Officials estimate that as a result of the fires, nearly 2,000 homes have been destroyed and at least 25 people have been killed.
Some experts estimate the number of domestic pets, wild animals and livestock killed in the fires could be up to half a billion.
John’s generosity was met with roaring cheers and massive applause.
“To see what is happening here breaks my heart, so we have to come together and we have to fight, and this is my bid towards it,” the three-time Golden Globe winner said.
“To those who have lost their homes, God bless and hope that your lives will be repaired very soon.”
John’s kind deed follows that of many other celebrities and musicians, including Selena Gomez, Keith Urban, Dan + Shay, and Pink, who pledged US$500,000 directly to local fire services in New South Wales on Saturday.
Australian Chris Hemsworth did the same as well on Monday night, offering a total of AU$1 million to local fire services and to the people who are in need and/or lost their homes in the vicious blazes.
The Thor star encouraged his followers to donate as well in a heartfelt Twitter message.
“Hopefully you guys can chip in too,” he said. “Every penny counts so whatever you can muster up is greatly appreciated.”
Footage captured during John’s speech at the Qudos Bank Arena on Tuesday night can be seen in the video above.