Live Review: Birds of Tokyo + Fractures – Melbourne Zoo (13.02.16)

A gloriously warm, sunny Melbourne evening saw a sold out crowd descend upon Melbourne Zoo for Birds of Tokyo‘s gig as part of the Zoo Twilights series. The Zoo Twilights run for two weeks, with all proceeds going towards fighting the extinction of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot. As the sun slowly made its way to the horizon, there was a sea of people as far as the eye could see from the stage back across the Zoo Lawn.

First up on stage was Melbourne’s Fractures, aka Mark Zito and his band. They got the crowd warmed up with a great selection of chilled-out tunes blended with some light rock. Zito did his best to engage the extremely relaxed, but attentive crowd, and almost regaled us with a tale of frisky lions before he quickly remembered it was an all-ages show. A stand out track from their set was “Won’t Win”, full of soothing vocals and lush guitars. We were treated to the runner-up World Premiere of new track, “Alchemy”, which made its first appearance at the Sydney Zoo show the night prior. The set was short but satisfying, and a fitting warm up for style of event.

There was only enough time to down a few more cheese and crackers before Perth lads, Birds of Tokyo, took to the stage. There was a real buzz in the crowd but it was possibly hard to discern with everyone blissfully reclined on picnic blankets and camp chairs. Ian Kenny was in stirling form, with his voice clear in the summer air and more than ably backed by an always impressive band of talented musos. Special mention here, too, to the production team – the sound was fantastic where I was sitting, and that’s not always easy to achieve in an outdoor venue. Couldn’t fault it.

It’s tempting to list everything on the setlist because each track was flawless, but there are several which deserve particular attention – “Plans”, which morphed halfway through into a surprising, but completely logical, “Eye of the Tiger” before reverting to conclude as “Plans”. “Wayside” featured Ian Kenny alone with Adam Spark on acoustic guitar, followed by the magical “Boy”. “I’d Go With You Anywhere” had folk up and dancing, rightly, and the crowd was starting to become more vocal in response. One of my favourite tunes, “Wild At Heart” was as good as ever and always a joy to hear live. Bonus points, also, to Kenny and the band for delivering a stellar cover of David Bowie‘s “Ashes to Ashes”.

All too quickly the band left the stage but reappeared soon after to pump out their two smash hits, “Lanterns” and “This Fire”. The crowd was up on its feet for both songs and it was a much deserved reflection back to the band about the quality of the gig. It was one of the best shows I’ve attended with outstanding location, logistics, atmosphere, and artists. Over too quickly, desperate to do it again.