“These are rockstars, it’s how you do it,” Minister for Tourism Andrew Barr threw over his shoulder at the media scrum as he strolled towards the INXS carrying black helicopter that had just landed on the lawn in front of Old Parliament House, Canberra, at 11.15am Eastern Standard time.
“It’s terrific to be here at Parliament House to welcome Tim and Kirk from INXS,” Barr said in front of the cameras.
“It’s terrific that they’re going to be headlining the Enlighten festival on Saturday the 12th of March. This is a terrific event for Canberra. We’re lucky to have a band with the reputation and quality of INXS to be the headlining act.”
The aging musos in black suits nodded and the minister smiled.
Radio, TV, print, online – I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many of them in one place at one time.
“It’s cheaper than the cost of an ad in the Canberra Times,” Barr told me before the chopper landed and event staff carrying fluro orange traffic cones created an invisible barrier between the scrum and the stars.
Indeed it was. Until last night we didn’t even know who the ‘legendary’ band Barr intended to have choppered in. It was a stunt. A glorious stunt, the likes of which we love and pray for in the January news vacuum.
But compared to local talent at the scene, INXS proved quite dull.
A man in chinos and a bucket-hat on a skateboard on a platform with a cross labelled ‘Eternity’, holding up religious propaganda and pictures of Jesus, spent the prelude to the helicopter show screaming at the scrum from on high, 100 metres away from the minister.
“I’m with Adrenaline!” he repeatedly hollered at us.
“The skateboard shop in Braddon!”
“I’m a major INXS fan as well!”
“I’m trained by the SAS!”
His cries alternated with skateboard stunts as he did a reverse crucifixion, standing on his head for minutes at a time.
“$20 says he runs under the helicopter,” one of Barr’s staff said.
Puzzlingly, for the cameras Barr and his rockstars walked closer to the skateboard wielding Christian.
“You can use my skateboard anytime! I’m a huge fan!”
“GOD BLESS MICHAEL HUTCHENCE!”
Bugger the rockstars, give me the cream of Canberra’s crazies any day.
“CityNews” asked Australian Capital Tourism how much the stunt cost, this was their response:
This morning’s media call was organised by Australian Capital Tourism to help promote ENLIGHTEN see Canberra in a whole new light. Coverage from today’s media call has been positive in national media outlets and is helping to raise awareness of this fantastic new event to potential interstate visitors and the local community.
INXS were not paid an appearance fee for today’s promotion.
Contractual arrangements between artists and event organisers are commercial in confidence.