Melbourne Zoo Twilights Series review

Melbourne Zoo Twilights’s Jess O’Callaghan headed to the zoo:

It’s fun to imagine that when all the ice cream-toting kids and besotted couples leave for the day and night falls the animals all sneak out of their cages and take over the zoo when no one’s watching. It’s a fantasy that’s fun to indulge, when you’re watching a cute meerkat or a baby giraffe.

A good second, however, is the fantasy where at nightfall performers like Dick Diver, Sasquatch, Neko Case and Charles Bradley take over the zoo. That one is pretty spectacular as well.

This summer it wasn’t rouge animals taking over the zoo at night, it was awesome international and local artists.

Neko Case, who played on Saturday March 1, is actually the perfect performer for the zoo. Wild hair, huge voice, a stage presence that can fill up the amphitheatre easily. Animals also creep frequently into her song lyrics, with songs like “The Tigers Have Spoken” and “Lion’s Jaws” starting the evening off. It wasn’t all animal jokes, though, with classics like “Teenage Feeling” and “Hold On” brought out by the night’s end.

And Charles Bradley. Oh my. If you haven’t witnessed this man perform live you need to immediately Google where his next gig is an fly there. Whatever it takes. Anyone who has seen the 65-year-old soul hero becomes instantly evangelical about him, and after the zoo I am an absolute convert.

No one is immune from this. During one of Bradley’s costume changes (costume changes!) I ran to the bathroom, and found a ten year-old girl doing the same thing. She was running on the spot, looking impatient to the door and back to the portaloo cubicle again. “Mum! Quick! We’ll miss Charles Bradley! He’ll come back on! Quick!”

It’s a sloth-like crowd that heads to the zoo on a Friday or Saturday night. Families and lazy couples on picnic blankets and people who like to eat cheese and people who like to stare up at the stars while the music just happens around them. Definitely my sort of people. Despite this, before Bradley even burst onto the stage, the crowd had been brought to its feet, and if they weren’t all-out dancing throughout his set they were at least swaying along and that’s saying something.

It had looked like rain all day, but just as he was crooning out “The World is Going Up in Flames” the clouds seemed to sweep across the sky and reveal a perfect crescent moon, for everyone to beam at each other and sway under.

As with every Twilights season, all proceeds from the shows went towards the Zoo’s work to fight wildlife extinction. This year highlighting They’re Calling You – a campaign that aims to save gorillas in the wild through mobile phone recycling. Find out more here



Melbourne Zoo Twilights Series Review by Jess O’Callaghan. Charles Bradley photo by Phil Kitt.