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14 Artists Who Need to Tour Australia as Soon as Possible

They often say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but countless Australian music fans are holding out hope for some of these musical icons.

Collage of Depeche Mode, Björk, and Tom Waits

Australia is often a major touring destination for most artists, but some of the world's biggest names seem to have an aversion to coming down under.

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It’s no secret that Australians love their live music. Why, in addition to Melbourne being named the live music capital of the world, Irish icons U2 managed to pull in US $35.7 million from just eight shows in Australia last year. No matter how you slice it, that’s a testament to how much your average Aussie likes a night out with some good tunes.

But spare a thought for some of the most diehard music fans out there who never get a chance to see their favourite acts live. While Aussies never got a chance to see Canadian icons Rush during their lifetime, artists like Madonna and Paul McCartney finally ended local touring droughts of 23 and 24 years, respectively, when they both finally visited a few years back.

However, countless artists remain on the wish-lists of numerous Australian music-lovers. With some of them not visiting for a number of years or even during their entire careers, we’ve decided to take a look at some of the artists who need to add a trip down under to their itineraries, stat!

Image of metal icons Metallica

“There are so many people choosing violence and division right now,” Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo said.

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Metallica

Years Since Last Tour: 7

In the interest of fairness, this one should be prefaced by saying that it’s not quite Metallica’s fault that we’ve waited seven years for their return, with last year’s planned tour being cancelled due to frontman James Hetfield entering rehab.

For a band like Metallica though, it could almost be expected that it takes them a while to circle back around to country. After all, as one of the most successful metal bands in the world, it’s understandable that their legions of fans around the globe are calling for the group to headline their local stadium. However, the band’s last trek to Australia took place way back in 2013, and while we’re not bitter per se, that was a total of four North American tours ago.

Having been out on the road on their WorldWired Tour since 2016, Metallica have been busy with close to 200 tour dates around the world. Though they’ve promised a return to Australia at some point, we’re hoping it’ll take place before a new album kicks off a brand new tour cycle.

Image of English rock outfit Radiohead

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Radiohead

Years Since Last Tour: 8

While Radiohead have played hundreds of critically-acclaimed shows in countries like their native United Kingdom and even the United States, the only thing Australians are united in is a collective dismay at a lack of the band’s local gigs. Touring the country a total of four times since their formation, it took Radiohead over eight years to return after their 2004 tour, with two albums following in the meantime.

Though Thom Yorke and co. haven’t given a reason why Australia so frequently gets a raw deal with their shows, it appears they do like to try and make up for lost time when they finally return, with the group’s frontman famously playing a DJ set to a packed crowd at Sydney’s Goodgod Small Club back in 2012.

At this stage, there’s no word when you can pencil in a return visit, with drummer Philip Selway recently revealing they’d be taking 2020 off to focus on other projects. “This is kind of the year away from Radiohead, but we will pick that up again,” he explained.

Image of US metal outfit System of a Down

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System of a Down

Years Since Last Tour: 8

When System of a Down announced heir hiatus back in 2006, fans figured that it would just be a handful of years before the group returned to both the live stage and studio in order to resume their usual touring and recording habits. While their 2011 reformation is yet to boast new music, the group’s live return resulted in their third visit to Australia when they headlined the 2012 edition of the Soundwave Festival.

Serving as a stunning return to form for the metal titans, local fans have been left waiting for news of another tour ever since. Considering they’ve been somewhat consistent with their touring schedule since reuniting, it’s logical to assume that live dates are set to follow at some point. However, since the’ve never done a headline tour of the country, it’s likely we’ll be waiting until Download Festival announces them as headliner in the coming years.

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Janelle Monáe

Years Since Last Tour: 8

Despite Janelle Monáe having risen to fame throughout much of the last decade, fans have been bumping her tracks ever since the release of her demo record, The Audition, way back in 2003. While 2010’s The ArchAndroid brought Monáe the widespread success she so deserved, it eventually resulted in her first-ever visit to Australia back in 2012, which took place as part of the Vivid LIVE festival in Sydney.

Now, almost eight years, and one cancelled tour later, fans appear to be no closer to getting the announcement of a return appearance from the artist. With her most recent album, Dirty Computer, being released in 2018, and numerous acting roles taking place since then, it’s logical to assume she might be a bit too busy to book in an Australian tour these days. While a new set of dates being announced seems closer to a dream than a reality, at least we’ve got those amazing memories of May 2012 to tide us over.

Image of Icelandic musician Björk

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Björk

Years Since Last Tour: 12

It feels as though it’s always been in Björk’s nature to reside somewhere just outside of the spotlight of mainstream publicity. Though her music has constantly been a source of praise and inspiration, her live shows have always felt as though they’re designed to be once-in-a-lifetime affairs. Though her ’90s output resulted in two tours across 1994 and 1996, fans had to wait another 12 years before Björk would return; this time sharing a Big Day Out bill alongside Rage Against The Machine.

Famously, fans at the Sydney leg of the tour found themselves somewhat hard done by, with her festival appearance being cancelled due to vocal issues suffered during a headline gig at the Sydney Opera House. Maybe this is why when Björk Digital made its world premiere at the 2016 Vivid LIVE event in Sydney, the artist actually turned up for a pair of DJ sets, and overlooked the rest of the country.

Though three studio albums have arrived since her last full visit to the country, it remains to be seen when Björk might return for a series of headline shows.

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Rage Against the Machine

Years Since Last Tour: 12

Just like Björk, the last time Australian fans saw Rage Against the Machine on local soil was thanks to the 2008 Big Day Out festival. Having reformed only one year earlier, many were witnessing something that they thought the might never see, while others treated their performances as the life-changing events they truly were.

Though rumours of new music never came to fruition, the eventual split around 2011 gave birth to Prophets of Rage; a supergroup featuring three quarters of the group (minus frontman Zack de la Rocha), alongside members of Cypress Hill and Public Enemy.

Although Prophets of Rage did make an Australian appearance for the inaugural Download Festival in 2018, last year brought with it the news that Rage Against the Machine had once again reformed for a series of tour dates in 2020. However, while this impressive list of dates is slowly expanding, Australians are still left wanting in regards to when we might see the giants of political rock.

Image of US indie-rock outfit Guided by Voices

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Guided by Voices

Years Since Last Tour: 20

If there’s one thing that fans of Ohio indie-rockers Guided by Voices would be painfully aware of, it’s the band’s aversion to touring outside of North America and the UK. In fact, across the 37-year career, the band have barely toured outside of the US, UK, and Canada to the point where most countries boast one solitary visit from the band at some point. Such is the case of Australia, where the group toured in 2000 in support of their 11th album, Do The Collapse.

To be fair, Guided by Voices did split up in 2004, and since 2010 have been relatively consistent with their performances, meaning that the chances of them once again returning to Australia aren’t hopeless. However, with an apparent magnetic attraction to the recording studio rather than the tour bus, it’s unclear when Robert Pollard and his extensive list of collaborators might return to our shores once again.

Image of US punk outfit Rancid

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Rancid

Years Since Last Tour: 22

For over two decades now, it’s been painfully obvious that Rancid don’t have any plans to return to Australia. A shame, really, considering that their first two visits between 1996 and 1998 not only remain a highlight of the ’90s for many punk fans, but also resulted in the romance of frontman Tim Armstrong and Australian Brody Dalle. Ultimately, their separation a few years later seemed to sour Armstrong’s view of Australia, even going so far as to label Melbourne (Dalle’s hometown) as a “tropical London” on the Rancid song of the same name.

Now, 22 years on from their last tour of Australia, fans are still wondering if the band may in fact ever return. Though new records have come forth, an apparently misguided attempt at marketing merchandise to their Aussie fans in 2016 resulted in comments stating that the band “obviously don’t give a fuck about [their] fans down here.” Though it’s doubtful that such language has enticed the band to tour here any time soon, it looks as though any hopes of catching Rancid live will involve airfare costs.

Promtional image of Depeche Mode

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Depeche Mode

Years Since Last Tour: 26

When Depeche Mode released Violator – their seventh album – in 1990, the English outfit decided to visit Australia for a two-date promo tour. Unfortunately, singer Dave Gahan strained his voice at the Sydney performance, causing the Melbourne date to be cancelled just as doors were set to open. Making it up to fans a few years later, Depeche Mode returned in support of their follow-up, Songs of Faith and Devotion, in 1994. Since then though, it appears the group aren’t too keen on adding some more stamps to their passport.

Since 1994, Depeche Mode haven’t exactly been a prolific group (releasing just six albums), though their relentless touring schedule have seen them play shows almost everywhere around the world except Australia. Could it be it’s now been far too long for a return tour? Or could their lack of local dates be due to Martin Gore’s comments in 1994 that “Australia is where [they] are least successful”? Either way, it’s looking like fans holding out for a new Depeche Mode tour are set to be let down yet again.

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Garth Brooks

Years Since Last Tour: 26

His name is synonymous with country music, he’s one of the best-selling artists of all time, and he boasts an amazing 13 Grammy Awards, but one thing Garth Brooks is seemingly unable to achieve is another Australian tour. Performing down under for the first and only time in 1994 as part of his debut world tour, Brooks’ shows were a massive success, but once this international trek wrapped up, his tour dates were mainly confined to North America.

Even a stint as the Brisbane-born Chris Gaines wasn’t enough to convince Brooks to head back down to Australia. Of course, it’s not just Aussies who have been overlooked, with Brooks’ European fans not seeing him perform live since 1998 either, despite a five-date tour of Ireland being planned – and subsequently cancelled – in 2014. Currently, it seems as though Brooks has no intentions of performing outside of his native US, despite the pleas of his legions of fans.

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Van Morrison

Years Since Last Tour: 35

It says a lot about an artist like Van Morrison when he’s been on the road with remarkable consistency for over 50 years. Unfortunately, the lion’s share of this touring has seen him perform predominantly in the United Kingdom and the US, with Australia’s sole exposure to his music occurring back in 1985.

Arguably one of the hardest-working musicians in the business today, Morrison’s aversion to coming down under seems to stem from the fact that Australia is so far away. In fact, Bluesfest’s Peter Noble claimed in 2014 that a friendly relationship with Morrison’s agent led to the discovery he’s effectively “wasting [his] time” attempting to lure the Northern Ireland icon down to our shores.

At 74 and with 11 tour dates under his belt this year already, it’s clear that Van Morrison has no plans on stopping touring, but if catching him live is on your bucket list, you might want to start looking at flights.

Image of US musician Tom Waits

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Tom Waits

Years Since Last Tour: 39

When Tom Waits first visited Australia back in 1979, his visit was marred by his now-iconic appearance on The Don Lane Show which Lane famously claimed “lit up our switchboard for about an hour after the show. And not all with compliments, either.” Two years later, Waits was back, and his month-long tour was just as memorable as the first, with tracks from his 1980 record Heartattack and Vine on full display.

Since then, it’s been radio silence for his Australian fans, with close to 39 years passing since his last visit. Of course, it’s not as if promoters haven’t been trying to get Waits back down under, with Peter Noble revealing that his frequent attempts to procure the artist had become even less likely in recent years, with the now-70-year-old performer having effectively retired from touring following his last large-scale tour in 2008.

Though he’s not retired altogether (he’s still a semi-active actor), it’s looking less and less likely that Waits will return to Australia, and even more likely that his diehard fans may have missed their chance to catch him on stage.

Image of English musician Kate Bush

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Kate Bush

Years Since Last Tour: Never Toured

In all honesty, it’s almost amazing that anyone has managed to see Kate Bush live, really, let alone her Australian fans. Though she first rose to fame with the success of The Kick Inside in 1978, both this record and her Lionheart follow-up resulted in 1979’s Tour of Life; her sole live trek to date. In addition to TV performances throughout the US and Europe, these 28 shows were critically-acclaimed, but left Bush exhausted and unwillingly to take her music on the road.

Though one-off performances did follow, it was until 35 years later than fans got another chance to catch Bush performing live, with her 22-date Before the Dawn residency at London’s Hammersmith Apollo. Again, attracting critical acclaim and drawing fans from all over the world, these shows have been her last to date, and the ever-reclusive Bush has made no announcements regarding new music or further performances.