There was a buzz in the air at Taronga Zoo on Saturday night; Missy Higgins, who is now twelve years post the success of her debut album The Sound of White, is still an act people can’t get enough of.
Something for Kate’s lead-vocalist-cum-solo-artist, Paul Dempsey, opened the night with a low-key acoustic set, playing through a chunk of his solo material as well as Something for Kate’s Déjà Vu, which was received well.
Dempsey went on to cover David Bowie’s Ashes To Ashes, going on to tell the story of hearing the song for the first time as a child and the opportunity his band had to play alongside Bowie during a tour several years ago, making it a sweet and fitting tribute.
Missy Higgins opened her set with a solo acoustic rendition of Don’t Ever which earned her thunderous applause, before she was joined by her full band to play through No Secrets from her latest album, Oz.
Higgins is a highly polished and well-produced live artist — her vocal clarity and cleanness is something fewer and fewer artists are striving for in this day and age, and every song in her set was performed stunningly. Early in the set, she mentioned that the high winds of the evening were worrying her, as she had donned a particularly flowing skirt, quipping, “I didn’t even wear my good undies!”
There wasn’t one track which wasn’t met with adoring cheers and applause from the audience, though a few tunes were clear crowd favourites, like Peachy.
Higgins is a delight on stage — funny and amicable, always quick with a story and praise for her band, and happy for a little back-and-forth with the audience. She gushed about her recent opportunity to appear on legendary Aussie TV show Play School, how much she loved the show and the fun she had filming on set.
And then — the highlight of the night, the gig of the year material and potentially the best moment of Australian music history ever — she sang the children’s song Three Little Fishies. THAT’S RIGHT, Missy Higgins led the entire crowd of a sold-out show in a sing-a-long of Three Little Fishies. What a legend. Unfortunately for any fans who missed the show, she advised it would be the first and last time she ever covered that particular number at any of her shows.
As if Three Little Fishies wasn’t enough, Higgins had more to offer. After Song For Sammy, a tune written for her young son, she played Watering Hole and once again had the entire crowd joining in with various wild animal noises. Lizard shrieks, elephant trumpets, lion roars and bird cries rang out at full volume. Again, who but Missy Higgins could elicit that kind of response from a crowd?
Her two earliest hits Scar and The Special Two went down perfectly, of course, before she played an as-yet-unheard number called Oh Canada which is slated for release in the next week or so. The song is inspired by the Syrian refugee crisis, and particularly that poor little boy who washed up on the beaches of Turkey in 2015.
Occasionally when artists begin to tread such political lines it’s a bit of an eye-roll and a ‘stay out of politics’ vibe, but with Oh Canada, Higgins has captured a soul and a feeling few other songwriters could, and it’s a truly touching and emotional song.
Not one to end on a downer, Higgins closed the night with Steer, which quickly pulled the crowd into some fun party vibes ahead of the trip home.
Gallery: Missy Higgins, Paul Dempsey – Twilight At Taronga, Sydney 13.02.16 / Photos: Olivia Hadisaputra