Review: Sunnyboys & Painters And Dockers at the Melbourne Zoo Twilights, February 2 2018

It says a lot about a band’s longevity and popularity that they can still get close to selling out shows close to 30 years after the release of their last album, and tonight, as the Sunnyboys took to the stage for another chapter of the brilliant Melbourne Zoo Twilights, they proved that they’re still as popular as ever.

As fans piled into the Melbourne Zoo on a warm Friday afternoon, they were met by a sea of like-minded individuals in Sunnyboys shirts who undoubtedly witnessed the group in their heyday, and younger fans whose love of the band has clearly been passed down along the lines. From veterans of the Aussie live scene to the youngsters witnessing these Sydney rockers as their first gig, the crowd was truly in for something special.

Kicking things off for the evening was the cult Melbourne band Painters And Dockers, who emerged from the shadows to perform a riotous show that included all of their classic hits, whilst delivering them in their typically-animated and over-the-top manner.

Tunes such as ‘Basia’, ‘Die, Yuppie, Die,’ ‘You’re Going Home In The Back Of Divi Van,’ and ‘You Know You’re Soaking In It’ all received great reception from the eager crowd who were singing along to every line, while the wild, eccentric antics of singer Paulie Stewart were enough to make even a frontman like Iggy Pop blush.

By the end of the band’s set (which included appearances from the Salvation Army Band and Michael Barclay of Paul Kelly & The Coloured Girls), there was hardly anyone in the crowd left sitting on their strategically-arranged picnic blankets, choosing instead to turn the front of the stage into a mosh pit from which the evening’s loudest screams and applause originated.

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Following a short intermission, the audience’s attention soon shifted towards the main attraction for the evening, as Sydney’s Sunnyboys took the stage for what was promising to be an excellent evening.

Backdropped by images on sunflowers, and looking like seasoned professionals in contrast to the party-like antics of Painters And Dockers, the Sunnyboys delivered a 90 minute set which covered all of their classic hits, including ‘My Only Friend’, ‘Tunnel Of Love’, ‘I Can’t Talk To You’, and of course, ‘Alone With You’.

While the evening’s performance was a far cry from their early gigs in sweaty pubs and clubs, the group had no issue proving to the crowd why they’re considered by many to be on of the greatest Aussie power-pop bands of all time.

Six years ago, fans could almost never have conceived what they were witnessing this evening. Following a brief reunion in the late ’90s, the Sunnyboys had reconvened in 2012 for a one-off show that quickly spawned into a number of reunion shows. Now, with the group once again acting like the well-oiled machine they were in the ’80s, fans simply can’t get enough.

As the evening progress, the lights dimmed, and the crowd relished the wave of nostalgia they felt while hearing all the hits of yesteryear, it became clear that even though Sunnyboys didn’t feature the same irreverence, nor see the same crowd response as Painters And Dockers, they were still met with the reverence of a band whose discography stands alone as one of the finest in Aussie music history.

Following a brief absence from the stage, the group returned for an encore performance which continued the epic set they had already delivered. Finishing things for the evening with crowd-pleasing ‘The Seeker’, the band waved goodbye to a grateful crowd who could very easily have spent the next three hours dancing and shouting out every word.

However, all good things must come to an end, and as the band exited, fans were left understanding why a performance from a band such as the Sunnyboys is so special and why we’re so lucky to have this band back on the live circuit.

Check out the Sunnyboys’ ‘Alone With You’:

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