Liam Payne flying solo in Australia ahead of Everest gig
Singer Liam Payne arrived in Sydney on Thursday ahead of his headlining gig at the second annual TAB Everest Race Day on Saturday.
The superstar musician – who was one-fifth of the enormously popular band One Direction until they split in 2016 – arrived to throngs of cameras at Sydney airport, before making his way to The Star in Pyrmont, where he'll be staying during his time in Australia.
On Saturday, Payne will hit the stage at Royal Randwick Racecourse for a 45-minute set once the racing has ended.
Payne, 25, revealed that he would be singing songs from his new EP, First Time, which was released in late August and hadn't been performed since.
"I have a new song out that I am going to include in my set," Payne says. "I haven't sung any of my EP anywhere yet as I’ve been having a bit of a break since I released that so I might perform some of those as well.
"I haven’t been to Australia in such a long time so that will be perfect."
Payne was last in the country in February 2015, when he and his One Direction bandmates took their On the Road Again tour around the world.
A month after their sold-out Australian concerts, band member Zayn Malik departed the group citing stress, and four months later the rest of the band confirmed they would be going on an indefinite hiatus from 2016.
Before the group's split, Payne had been working as a producer and record company director behind the scenes, and was slowly building an identity as a solo performer.
In 2017 he released his soon-to-be hit song, Strip That Down – with guest Quavo and co-written by Ed Sheeran and Steve Mac – and his solo status was confirmed.
Also in 2017, Payne welcomed his first child with his girlfriend Cheryl Tweedy (best known as Cheryl Cole) after the pair had started dating in 2016.
Liam Payne in London on October 1 this year. Credit:PA Archive
Payne and Tweedy met many years before they became romantically involved, when she was a 24-year-old judge on The X Factor UK and he auditioned as a fresh-faced 14-year-old.
While he didn't make it through to the finals that time, he returned two years later and was placed with four other teenage boys, who went on to form One Direction.
Payne and Tweedy reconnected in 2016, welcomed their son, Bear, in early 2017 and announced their split in July this year, after which Payne took an extended break from his career.
Payne's performance in Sydney on Saturday will mark his return to the local spotlight, and although he's here in Australia without his bandmates for the first time, the fan frenzy doesn't seem to have died down, with plenty of young admirers and paparazzi waiting and hoping to catch a glimpse at the airport on Thursday.
Asked ahead of his trip if a One Direction reunion might be on the cards, Payne gave fans some hope.
"I think I have been asked that question more than any other band member," he told Pedestrian. "I don't know why people think I am like the spokesman at the moment. I am like Captain America answering all the questions.
"Me personally as me, I would love to get back together at some point. I think when it is all comfortable for everyone else. Rushing these things is how things get messed up."
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