As the sun made its way towards the horizon, a sizable group of music and animal lovers of all ages braved the bleak looking weather and headed in to Melbourne Zoo for the opening night of the annual Zoo Twilights series. Perfect Tripod had the honour of kicking off the series with their versions of some classic Australian songs with a support set from Dan Kelly.

Families, couples and groups of friends enjoyed the opportunity to take a wander around the zoo and visit all the animals before gathering on the lawn between the Lion Park and the Reptile House in time for Dan Kelly to go on. The relaxed nature of the evening passed on to those present as they reclined on the grass, most equipped with chairs or blankets, and enjoyed their picnic dinners while Kelly and his backing vocalists serenaded them with his guitar. The lions and African wild dogs were similarly laid back in their respective enclosures, cuddling together and heading off to sleep as the sound of Kelly finishing up his set wafted over the evening breeze.

Once it was time for Perfect Tripod to take the stage, Gatesy came out and kicked off their set with Banjo Patterson’s unofficial Australian anthem, ‘Waltzing Matilda’ before Yonn, Scod and ‘new recruit’ Eddie Perfect joined adding their backing vocal parts. Seamlessly they changed songs into Gotye’s ‘Heart’s A Mess’ with Perfect taking the lead and Tripod providing wonderful a cappella backing parts. The set was filled with some great Australian songs and covered a wide variety of artists from Australian Crawl to Kylie Minogue and beyond.

While most of the songs were sung ‘straight’, there was of course a lot of comedy in the banter and the onstage action as well. Yonn took centre stage with both a whistling and interpretive dance solo  during their rendition of Lanie Lane’s ‘(Oh Well) That’s What You Get (Falling in Love with a Cowboy)’ while Gatesy was very excited about a version of Little River Band’s ‘Reminiscing’ which he took the lead on while the other three managed to incorporate “Shut up” into their backing vocals. The choice by the four men to perform ‘Not Pretty Enough’ by Kasey Chambers was amusing enough and, despite singing it faithfully, it garnered quite a laugh from the audience. They finished up their main set with the ‘real’ “Australian National Anthem” (which sounded surprisingly similar to and had the same lyrics as John Farnham’s ‘You’re The Voice’) in which they worked the phrase “Johnny Farnham” into the backing vocals.

Even with a dreary weather outlook, the opening show of the Zoo Twilights series was great. The incredibly relaxed atmosphere and choice of artists made for a perfect start to both the series and the Australia Day weekend.

Wes Fahey

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