Belle & Sebastian, Twilight at Taronga


Harriet Cheney headed to Taronga Zoo in Sydney to check out legendary Glasgow-based six-piece, Belle and Sebastian:

You can’t help feeling excited visiting a zoo. It brings the inner child out to play. Add to that the incredible view of the harbour and some top notch musicians and that excitement is well and truly warranted.

The first support act was a group of very randomly placed giant dinosaurs (I mean giant in relative terms – they were bigger than me but probably not giant for dinosaurs) making weird groaning noises as we made our way down the winding path through the zoo to the outside auditorium.

Then came Darren Hanlon – who was a wonderful and easily outshone the dinosaurs. Great banter. Beautiful songs. Sitting under the gum trees listening to his thick Queenslander accent; seeing him give his harmonica away to a very pleased three-year-old; hearing him tell funny stories about the overseas travel that inspired his songs – the perfect start to the perfect Sydney summer evening.

stuart murdoch belle & sebastianOf course the real heroes of the night were six-piece Glaswegian band, Belle and Sebastian (if you think that sounds like a French name, you’re right! It comes from a French children’s book that was turned into a television show in 1965 and obviously aired in Scotland).

From the very first note there was a crowd gathered around the stage. Taronga Zoo is a pretty chill venue. You take your picnic and rug and set yourself up with a wine/beer/juice. But, the venue also has you covered if you want to get up and dance, and after frontman Stuart Murdoch announced that they were going to take a “zoological trip through the back catalogue of Bell and Sebastian, uncovering a few of our little animals”, dance is exactly what everyone did.

There were a few songs from their just-released ninth album, Girls in Peacetime Want To Dance, including the synthy disco-vibing ‘The Party Line’. For the most part though the band drew on the oldies and they were very well received.

‘Funny Little Frog’ got people singing along early in the set, ‘Piazzo, New York Catcher’ saw Murdoch get off the stage with microphone and literally wander around the whole auditorium singing at different people, ‘The Boy with the Arab Strap’ was the point where the audience was invited onto stage to dance (over 50 accepted) and the final pre-encore song ‘Sleep the Clock Around’ had everyone on their feet, clapping.

The atmosphere was wonderful. You couldn’t get a better summer Sydney venue. This was my first time attending a Taronga Twilight performance in the 20 years they have been running. I’m not sure what took me so long to get there. It sure won’t be long until I’m back again for another round of Taronga music – weird dinosaurs noises included I hope.

Read our interview with Belle and Sebastian hereYou can check out the following acts at Twilight at Taronga:

Saturday 7 February – YOU AM I, supported by Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders
Friday 13 February – SARAH BLASKO, supported by Luluc
Saturday 14 February – ANTHONY CALLEA presents Ladies & Gentlemen, The Songs of George Michael, supported by Caterina Torres
Friday 20 February – THE BEAUTIFUL GIRLS, supported by Caravãna Sun
Saturday 21 February – THE BAMBOOS, supported by Katalyst with special guests (Original beats set)
Friday 27 February – BOYS IN THE BAND – 50 years of hits!
Friday 6 March – CONOR OBERST, supported by The Felice Brothers
Saturday 7 March – RUFUS WAINWRIGHT performing The Best of Rufus Wainwright, supported by Lucy Wainwright Roche
Friday 13 March – DAN SULTAN, supported by Benny Walker and Pierce Brothers
Friday 20 March – SOMETHING FOR KATE, supported by Jen Cloher

For more information on all artists and to purchase tickets visit: or head to Facebook.



Review by Harriet Cheney.