The lawns of the venue were packed blanket-to-blanket giving the night a relaxed and intimate atmosphere, while the ambient, earthy zoo smells wafted through with the occasional breeze – which really gave the Twilight at Taronga series a unique feel compared to a ‘regular’ gig in a concert venue.
Indie-alt outfit Fractures opened the night supported by a four piece band. Some of his earlier numbers had an almost Sigur-Ros-ish vibe, which was the perfect sound to accompany the plentiful picnic foods being consumed, though as his set progressed he got a little heavier and funkier.
He has a great sound, and if he plays his cards right is definitely a contender for his own niche in popular Australian music. His stage presence might come off a little awk at first, but it’s soon clear that that’s just his dry sense of humour – he was consistently cracking solid jokes, and his between-song banter earned him plenty of laughs. There could well be a backup career in the making there…
The sun setting over the Sydney Harbour Bridge unfortunately stole the limelight of his last couple of songs, with crowds flocking stage left to snap pictures instead of paying attention to his closing number. Ultimately it was less an indictment on Fractures’ quality, and more a reminder that no one competes with Mother Nature.
A moderate crowd gathered at the foot of the stage as main squeeze of the night Birds of Tokyo came on, opening the set with older hit Broken Bones, though for their first few numbers a solid quarter of the ‘mosh pit’ was under ten.
Plans proved to be a bit of a magnet, drawing some more of the audience down front and centre, particularly as they snuck in a mash-up of classic Eye of the Tiger pre-bridge. As the set went on and fans recognised their favourite numbers, the stage crowd grew consistently, and by the close of the night most people had abandoned their blankets to have a dance up front.
Every track saw the crowd’s enthusiasm grow, even a lower number like an acoustic rendition of Wayside had fans signing out in harmony. Some cheeky banter won people over quickly, and the intimate venue meant some friendly hecklers could have a back-and-forth with more a than a few requests for lead vocalist Ian Kenny to “take it off” – to which bassist Ian Berney replied that they’re always trying to get him to do that, thus far to no avail.
A cover of David Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes went down well, and was an honourable tribute to the brilliant artist. A big fan favourite of the evening was Wild at Heart, which saw dancing from front row right to the back of the crowd.
Despite a strict curfew (gotta let the animals get their shut eye of course), there was still time for the boys to depart stage and build anticipation for an encore – which the audience chanted and cheered for relentlessly. Lanterns preceded the final number for the night, This Fire which absolutely went off with the crowd joining in.
And just like that, the night was over, with lights coming up immediately, staff jostling to have people moving on, and a classic Sydney “don’t let the door hit you on the way out” shut down.