Live Review: Julia Jacklin thrills a sold out Melbourne Zoo Twilights crowd

The Melbourne Zoo Twilights happen every summer in the outdoor surrounds in the Royal Melbourne Zoo. Tonight is a sold-out show featuring Julia Jacklin with support from Weyes Blood.

There are all ages here tonight although mainly younger guys and gals in their vintage threads. Hipsters, parents, lovers, friends and babies combine together to soak in some amazing music. Looking around, I get the impression that every retro shop in Melbourne sold out of clothes this week and as I gaze up there is enough cloud in the sky to keep the warmth around us although jackets and blankies a must for those not up and dancing. There’s also an array of food vans to keep your stomach as entertained as the music.

Weyes Blood is tonight’s support band. Blood is an American songwriter and musician who has performed with many fellow talented musicians such as Lana Del Ray and at the end of 2020 she supports Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds on their American Tour. Blood kicks off the night with A Lot’s Gonna Change and we all realise what an amazing voice Natalie Laura Mering has. Dressed all in white her powerful vocals settle the crowd into what will be one fabulous night of female vocalists. We’re told “Everyday” is dedicated to the tree kangaroos and spider monkeys as the band had already been around the zoo checking it out and these two animals mentioned were a favourite for the band. Mering’s voice is reminiscent of Karen Carpenter incorporating upbeat songs that settle into soft rock, experimental rock, and psychedelic folk. “Picture Me Better” is an acoustic number beautifully performed and before too long the set ends and we all await the lady of the hour, Melbourne born, multiple award winner, Julia Jacklin.

As the sunlight disappears, the birds fly over us and settle down for the night and the sultry sounds of Julia Jacklin shine through. Displaying a voice exactly like her albums, Julia and her electric guitar take stage initially to sing “Comfort”. After this, her band enters and into “Body” she sings, which is just as stunning live as it is on her album Crushing. The clouds in the sky mostly disappear and those remaining have a touch of pink through them and the moon is like a toenail sliver. Punters are stopped in their tracks to take photos of the spectacular sky. Singing “Leadlight” Julia is joined by Kookaburras cackling in the background and the ambience of the fairy lights that grace the trees side of stage are becoming more prominent. Julia tells us it’s weird wearing a period costume singing about her emotions to thousands of strangers. “Motherland” is a delicate quiet number sung beautifully whilst bats take flight above.

Most of the punters on the lawn closest to the stage are standing by now. Others at the back are happily munching away on their dinner. Julia sings “Good Guyfollowed by a Leonard Cohen cover “Memories, which is an absolute salute to the legend. “Don’t Know How To Keep Loving You” has the crowd cheering whilst “Head Alone” and “Pressure to Party”, a song about societal convention has the 3,000 crowd singing and dancing with the biggest smiles on their faces. Julia tells us she writes a lot of songs about bodies but it’s this sweet indie-pop with folk and delicate piano ballads infused with country that has brought about a huge following for this Melbourne based artist.

As the show comes to an end, her fans can be pleased with her setlist, with songs from her first album Don’t Let the Kids Win and her second album Crushing.  Her banter throughout the evening was a winner and proves she is a natural at chatting to the audience. Julia is making a stamp on the Australian music scene as an empowering female singer and no doubt we will be seeing much more of her.

Proceeds from this years Melbourne Zoo Twilights shows help save the critically endangered Mountain Pygmy-Possum from extinction.


Photo by Daniel Hanssen – Check out the gallery HERE.

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