The Jezabels @ Taronga Zoo, Sydney NSW Australia 02/02/2018 written by Brendan Lewis, photos by James Adams - THIS IS EASY TO LOVE
Welcome to the jungle, yes, the mighty jungle, where the lions sleep tonight….. somehow, while the alpha beasts The Jezabels take fans on a safari through the wilderness, as part of the Twilight At Taronga concert series. Settle in, make your nest amidst the open field surrounded by wildlife and let your inner party animal out for this safari!
*Please keep all arms, legs, wings, tails inside the vehicle at all times and buckle up, as we will be leaving the grounds of this reality*
If you look to the left, you’ll see a welcoming open field on a sloping hill to rest and get comfy, with a frame around it of food, drinks, merch, medical aid, and a rather large elephant and giraffe at the end of one of the vast, lengthy spiralling paths, protruding through the zoo, this one free of stairs and away from the general public for people/party animals requiring accessible access via a shuttle bus. (thank god for shuttle buses!)….. And I’m only told later that the elephant and giraffe aren’t actually real, and instead just LED frame figures…. whoops!
As this blind ginger orangutang waits keenly all by his lonesome, in front of the stage at the barrier for the music to start, the loneliness is soon revoked as the band swoop onto the stage with the sound of dreamy entrancing synth and drums, drawing the mass of buzzing bees, I mean fans, to the hive. Now a massive roar erupts from the audience as lead singer Hayley scurries out onto the stage, to start the first song.
Hayley starts the energy off big for the first song ‘Stand And Deliver’ as she flies around the stage like a majestic swan, arms waving to express her musical energy and spreading it across the field of fans singing along like harmonious birds in a forest. Hayley’s voice softly floats beautifully above the well mixed music echoing in the open night sky, until her vocals really spread their wings and take flight with incredibly well controlled high pitch power surges in the songs’ chorus, as she continues to assert her perfectly suited energy for the music.
The band now gallop straight into the next crowd pleaser ‘My Love Is My Disease’, casting a darker minor-key sound into the atmosphere, and with the continuation of Hayley racing around the stage like a monkey swinging to and from the trees around us, and her strong, perfectly delivered and controlled melodic voice carried by stand out wild drumming, it raises the energy around me dramatically to an angsty and intense, yet somehow still exciting and euphoric, filling me with a breath taking sensation like watching a deep-red sunset atop a giant hill. The excitement is confirmed with the entire audience cheering and singing along like wolves howling at the moon, in response to Hayley’s energy.
Hayley now takes a breath and connects with her audience by thanking/welcoming us, before heading into the next string of songs , ‘A Little Piece’, ‘City Girl’, ‘Mace Spray’ and iconic track from the bands musical catalogue, ‘Endless Summer’ which I’m surprised they’re playing here in the set and not last.
The musical aura is nicely transitioned from one song to the next, starting with uplifting climactic choruses in ‘A Little Piece’ further demonstrating Hayley’s ability to hit some astonishingly high notes in the chorus, balanced with sweet tender vocals in the verses, and do so with perfect control. The vibe of this song gets the audience singing and dancing along in joyous accordance to the music.
The atmosphere now switches to another dark and deep minor-key yet still calming which is a key indication of beautiful songwriting skills in ‘City Girl’. The tempo is cleverly flowed from a 3-4 ballad sway in the intro, making the audience sway steadily like owls falling asleep on a branch, to a thumping pulsating beat in the verse, and then a flurry of flicking drums in the chorus, like a heard of Zebra’s stampeding, before returning to a 3-4 ballad. This songs evolving tempo is a brilliant attention grabber as well as continuing the flow of positivity, as Hayley’s movements on stage feed said positivity into the audience for them to shoot right back.
The vibe is now moved to a deeper emotive feeling in ‘Mace Spray’, which feels sad yet heart wrenchingly beautiful. Hayley’s voice is soft and candid in the calm verses, before the song explodes into an outcry of raw emotional power in the chorus with exquisite high notes crying out like a young lion calling out for it’s mother. As if that young lion has been reunited with it’s mother, the songs’ bridge has a more heart-warming feeling as the crowd mimics Hayley’s melodic vocal harmonies, intuitive to one another.
Now I can’t help but feel so very sorry for the actual animals in the zoo around us, as the crowd burst into a thunderous chorus of cheers, as the band now start my personal favourite ‘Endless Summer’. The entire audience clap to the beat of the song very quickly after it’s take off, before the anthemic high voltage choruses takes hold, with Hayley’s energy seeming even greater than previously, likely now charged up by the positive electrifying energy from the audience, like a field of happy little Pikachu’s…. hey Pikachu’s an animal too! As the song reaches it’s end, I now realise why the band positioned this song in the middle of the set rather than at the end, it’s a strategic energy lift to peak the energy, evening it all throughout the set nicely.
The energy and dynamics of the music are thrown around strategically for the rest of the set, from the rushing running positive vibe of ‘The Others’, to the sassy groove of ‘Pleasure Drive’ that gets everyone shakin’ a tail feather especially as the heated chorus with it’s thumping dance provocative beat takes hold. Now to a retrospective 80’s happy “let your hair down” dance in ‘Look Of Love’, and finally the excited, easy to sing along to hype in ‘Hurt Me’ with it’s catchy vocal hooks. All whilst Hayley maintains her positive expressive on-stage energy and singing incredibly, even with the must-be exhausting moving around. Hayley does also pay thanks to support artist Stella Donnally and calls her out onto the stage for ‘Pleasure Drive’, with the crowd chanting Stella over and over again…. which I believe is unsuccessful as I don’t see an extra blurry body whizzing around the stage.
Hayley thanks us once more and confesses that the next song is the bands’ last for this evening. ‘Hurt Me’ fires up the audience dramatically with it’s catchy vocal hooks to sing along to, pleasant high-spirited aura and Hayley’s exceptional vocal execution of the music and on-stage energy. Now near the songs’ finish, the energy is excelled phenomenally, as if Hayley sprayed cat-nip into the crowd of these fired up party kitties, as she sits on the edge of the stage, closer connecting with her front row fans, before she jumps off and climbs onto the crowd barrier which she now stands atop of, while a crew member makes sure she doesn’t fall backwards. Apart from riling the crowd up further as they all try to reach Hayley, this is quite impressive as she maintains her brilliant singing whilst balancing like a monkey on a branch. If it were me, I’d just be freaking out thinking “SH**-SH**-SH** DON’T FALL!”, but Hayley pulls it off like a pro!
As the band leave the stage after that power-punch, the crowd stamp like elephants, and demand an encore. The band re-emerge, thank us, and indulge the crowds demand, and play one more crowd favourite ‘Easy To Love’. This song with it’s warm gooey reminiscent/loving feeling caps the show off with a glowing buzz of positive energy.
This show was a beautifully passionate, emotive, surge of intense musical energy, filled with positivity from start to finish. I’m very impressed with the on-stage charisma of the band which didn’t compromise musical quality. The vibe/essence of the show was perfectly transitioned in strategic places, to perfectly curate the flow of energy.