They’ve performed with world-famous rock and metal bands, toured the globe, sold countless albums and won various music awards. Yet, representing Australia at the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 might just be Voyager’s most cherished dream. On the 11th of May 2023, they will close the second semi-final, and being the closing act is something they’ve done before. With a wink: ‘We’ve often been the headliner of festivals. It’s nice that those fifteen other countries want to be our opening act!’
Just shy of a milestone
It might be a bit harsh to say about a band that finalle made it to Eurovision after several attempts (more about those later), but: they’re actually a year early. How wonderful would it have been if Voyager had represented Australia at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2024? That would have coincided with their twenty-fifth anniversary!
In 1999, when some of their Eurovision competitors weren’t even born yet, the band Voyager was formed in the Australian city of Perth. Seven studio albums, a slew of released singles, a few world tours, and nine band members later, they are where they’ve long wanted to be: Danny (vocals), Simone (guitar), Scott (guitar), Ashley (drums), and Alex (bass) represent Australia at the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 in Liverpool.
Voyager ♥ Eurovision
This didn’t achieve this without any struggles. As early as 2016, a year after Australia’s first participation in the Song Contest, Voyager asked their fanbase whether they should compete to represent their country. ‘The Song Contest is the biggest show on earth,’ says Danny, the lead singer of a band that has performed in many stadiums, closed worldwide festivals as headliner, and toured with bands like Toto and Nightwish. ‘The opportunity to represent Australia at Eurovision is surreal. A dream.’ Their first serious attempt, in 2020, didn’t make it past the long list; Voyager was not selected for Eurovision: Australia Decides, the national final, with their song Runaway. They did make it to the final two years later, and it was nearly a success: with Dreamer, Voyager finished on top after the public vote, but overall, the band scored just a few points fewer than Sheldon Riley.
A year later, it finally happened: this time, Voyager didn’t need to win a national final, but was selected internally. The band members themselves describe the song Promise as one of the best songs in their history. Their band name (‘traveler’) also appears to be the starting point for the story of Promise. As if we are literally standing at the start of an epic journey, Danny asks us in the first seconds: ‘Have you ever done something like this? Have you ever closed all the doors behind you, have you ever just left on your own? No? Then you haven’t really lived.’
So then the journey truly begins. The music video for Promise showcases the expansive, imposing Australian landscapes in which that little traveler must strive to survive. ‘I’m here tonight, I’m with you,’ the song continues. ‘Promise me that you’ll hold me until I die. Promise me that everything will be alright.’ Only this last line, only this request for a promise, makes up the rest of the chorus. The questions from the beginning return, sound more desperate – or do they? ‘Have you ever been alone for too long? Longed for human touch? Have you ever lost a part of yourself – and then found something new?’
‘The song was already there,’ lead singer Danny tells us about the creation of Promise. ‘We did write it, I suppose, with Eurovision in mind. We wanted to keep the good things from Dreamer, with which we had such success with the audience. But Promise was not specifically written for the Song Contest. I don’t really believe in someone else composing your song. How can you truly believe in such a song? I would appreciate more artists performing their self-written music at the contest.’
Voyager ♥ Netherlands
A good month before the actual Song Contest, the members of Voyage already traveled to Europe, for promotional tours in, among other places, London, Madrid, and Amsterdam. That stopover in the Netherlands was special. Besides a performance at Eurovision in Concert in AFAS Live, there was also a visit and private performance at the Australian embassy in The Hague. René Janssen, founder of the Dutch branch of the ProgPower festival, attended that. He told Eurostory about the special bond between Voyager and the Netherlands: ‘We were involved through our record label in 2004 in the creation of Voyager’s debut album. Two years later, we were also the first festival to bring Voyager to Europe, and we repeated that many times in the years that followed.’
The years after that Voyager slowly transformed from an upcoming but still unknown band to a headliner at many festivals. ProgPower Netherlands keep being involved. Prior to the private performance at the embassy in The Hague in 2023, the band reflected on their history together. ‘They told us that their European adventure started in the Netherlands, and that they were grateful for the opportunity we gave them, back in 2006,’ Janssen says. ‘It was a special evening that I look back on with pride. As organizers of ProgPower, we find it very special that a band that started with us is now performing at the Eurovision Song Contest. We never saw that coming.’
Photo: Mike Dann / Eurovision.tv