What better way to celebrate the end of the working week, and coincidentally St Valentine’s Day, than by taking loved ones – be it significant other, friends or family – to Melbourne Zoo’s Twilight concert series?
Imagine strolling through the grounds, visiting the new lemur exhibit, saying hello to Mali the elephant’s new baby brother Man Jai, all before making your way to the lawn for a picnic and concert under the stars.
It is pretty much the best night any music and animal lover could ask for.
It’s even better when the entertainment for the night is none other than the incomparable Mr Daryl Braithwaite and Mr James Reyne. Adding to the warm and fuzzy feeling is the fact that all proceeds go to helping creatures, great and small, as part of Zoos Victoria fight against wildlife extinction.
If you think Daryl Braithwaite is content enough to only play past hits, think again. The year 2013 saw one of the country’s most treasured artist re-sign with Sony Music and release a new album, Forever The Tourist.
The singer-songwriter tells the rapt crowd, with his renowned sense of humour, that he has ‘sort of’ won a Grammy. This ‘admission’ is made on account of Daft Punk sampling the old Sherbet song ‘We Ride Tonight’ on their Grammy-award winning Album Of The Year, Random Access Memories.
Braithwaite is truly an Australian music legend. His set is interspersed cleverly with the right number of anthemic classics, inspiring new songs, and genuinely priceless audience interaction.
From the maturity of recent numbers such as ‘Not Too Late’ to the still-rocking Sherbet bangers ‘Howzat’ and ‘Summer Love’, and cheeky Kinks cover ‘All Day And All Of The Night’, Braithwaite and his band can still get the cross-generational crowd up on their feet for a boogie.
To complete the first component of the bill is quintessential Braithwaite fare: ‘One Summer’ and, of course, ‘The Horses’. Looking around the green, the latter seems to hold a special place in everyone’s heart.
With a twinkle in his eyes and an enthusiasm that knows no bounds, Braithwaite is one horse that won’t be put out to pasture any time soon.
The audience is privy to the easy breezy camaraderie that exists between Braithwaite and Reyne as the two make the crossover on stage.
Reyne’s reputation as a genuinely nice guy and one of our most hardest-working, respected artists received official recognition in the form of a Medal of the Order of Australia. The musician was awarded the accolade on Australia Day this year for his services to the performing arts and support to charities and welfare groups.
The air fills with his incredibly identifiable voice as Reyne delves straight into the rock-fuelled ‘Fall Of Rome’ followed by the guitar-driven ‘Slave’ and Australian Crawl melody, ‘Beautiful People’.
After a slight mishap with the drums – which is quickly rectified – the boys light up the stage again with hit ‘Hammerhead’ and surf-vibed ‘One More River’, to which more and more people jump up on their feet for a sway.
Mid-set, the singer has the crowd transfixed with his exceptional, controlled vocals on poignant tracks ‘Reckless’ and ‘Downhearted’.
After remembering something important between songs, the former Australian Crawl frontman, now 56, pulls out a piece of paper and shouts, “Happy 50th, Mark! Welcome to the club” before proceeding to play his well received 2011 single, ‘English Girls’.
Proving himself to be a versatile entertainer by crossing genres with ease, Reyne moves smoothly from upbeat country-esque ‘Way Out West’ to the beautifully tragic storytelling of ‘Rainbow’s Dead End’ and the very early Crawl ode to Errol Flynn, ‘Errol’.
Ever the gentleman, the performer reminds one punter that children are present when said heckler gets a bit wordy in the ultimate family-friendly setting.
Rounding out the night’s entertainment is an amazing performance of ‘Oh No, Not You Again’, which incites an all-in singalong.
Inviting Braithwaite back on stage for an encore, the pair belt out the iconic ‘The Boys Light Up’ with young and old alike dancing up a storm beneath the night sky. One can only wonder if the animals are dancing along, too.