Melbourne Zoo today unveils its full Zoo Twilights 2020 lineup, with the iconic outdoor concert series once again set to showcase a diverse mix of top local and international acts in the breathtaking open-air surrounds. Melbourne’s must-see summer music event will run each weekend, from 24 January to 7 March, with all proceeds from this year’s series going towards Zoos Victoria’s efforts to save the critically endangered Mountain Pygmy-possum from extinction.
Packing a punch, this years genre-spanning program will welcome artists including timeless chart-topping icons, ICEHOUSE; nine-time Aria award-winning Australian pop royal, Missy Higgins; genre-defining Jamaican reggae legends, Toots & The Maytals; influential US gospel, soul and R&B queen, Mavis Staples; vocal powerhouse and Triple J darling Meg Mac; and the Perth art-rockers that NME dubbed as “the new pop masters,” Methyl Ethel – plus many more. These names join the previously announced headline act, legendary US songwriter and film composer Randy Newman.
The program kicks off on Friday January 24 with the glitter-cannon bang of Confidence Man – the dance-pop “enfants terrible” who have won over crowds everywhere from Glastonbury to Splendour in the Grass and Golden Plains. The upbeat Brisbane-based duo will be the dance-floor tour guides to the Zoo Twilights opening night party with support from the Ken Done-toned, sun-drenched psychedelia of Melbourne DJ collective Wax’o Paradiso.
The sky above Zoo Twilights will shimmer an electric blue when ICEHOUSE takes to the stage beneath it. Led by the creative brilliance of frontman Iva Davies for over 40 years, ICEHOUSE elevated the standard for Australian music locally and internationally in the ’80s and ’90s with an extensive catalogue of irresistible anthems – like Hey Little Girl, Crazy, Electric Blue and, of course, Great Southern Land – that saw them earn multi-platinum status around the globe and remain a chart staple for decades.
One of the most influential acts to come out of Jamaica, Toots & The Maytals are not only pioneers of reggae, they gave the genre its name. Punctuated by Frederick Toots Hibbert’s distinctive voice, the band’s buoyantly infectious ska and rocksteady anthems “Pressure Drop,” “54-46 (That’s my Number)” and “Funky Kingston” have had an enduring global influence. After spending decades bringing reggae to the rest of the world, the indefatigable nine-piece will transform Zoo Twilights into a Caribbean paradise.
Since winning triple j Unearthed in 2001, Missy Higgins has inhabited a unique place in the hearts of Australians thanks to a succession of hit songs including “Scar”, “The Special Two” and “Futon Couch”. A night in Higgins’s audience is an immersive journey through the best of Australian pop. She’ll be supported by the much-lauded Australian singer-songwriter William Crighton for a truly magical night of music.
After selling out three Zoo Twilights shows last year, eternal summer favourites The Cat Empire return for the third year running, this time supported by Queensland Music Award winner Emily Wurramara. Since 1999, the unstoppably energetic seven-piece Melbourne band have shared their inimitable brand of Latin-and roots-inspired pop with hungry fans in every corner of the world, lighting up dancefloors and establishing themselves as international festival favourites.
Manchester’s loved musical sons, 10cc invite fans of all ages to indulge in a night of nostalgia. The art-pop icons took the world by storm in 1975 with their innovative ballad “I’m Not in Love,” and it remains a singalong gold standard to this day. This summer, the band will perform alongside one of Australia’s most enduring performers, Russell Morris. Since releasing the psych-rock classic “The Real Thing” 50 years ago, Morris has recorded 14 albums, been inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame, and picked up a bunch of platinum record plaques along the way.
One of the country’s most ambitious and prolific live acts, 2019 Australian Music Prize-nominated Methyl Ethel arrives at Zoo Twilights to deliver their unique brand of richly layered, synth-hued noir-pop. Appearing at Twilights on the heels of a North America and UK tour, the 4AD-signed act will be supported by the transcendent new-wave textures of Hatchie, hailed by Pitchfork as the “dream-pop idol of tomorrow.”
In what is already a contender for lineup of the year, revered Australian indie-pop artist Julia Jacklin returns to Zoos Twilights (after supporting Cat Power last year) with support from US artist Weyes Blood. An intimate event featuring two stunningly generous artists, the night will begin with Weyes Blood (aka LA-based artist Natalie Mering) performing the inimitable brand of indie-folk that established her 2019 record Titanic Rising as one of the year’s best releases. Expect a hush to fall over the crowd as Jacklin shares the deeply felt pop that saw her 2019 record Crushing connect with listeners all over the world.
In her long-awaited Twilights debut, Sydney’s Meg Mac will bring her commanding voice, cinematic lyrics and beguiling stage presence to eager Melbourne fans. After capturing the world’s attention with her platinum-selling debut EP, the singer’s striking first record earned multiple ARIA nominations and saw her play sold-out shows around the world. Returning home, the acclaimed artist will perform from her loved back catalogue and the dramatic and vulnerable second record Hope.
After a decade-long hiatus, UK art pop pioneers Stereolab make a much-anticipated return; delivering Melbourne fans the same lush, layered sounds that established them as one of the ’90s most influential indie acts. Driven by the hypnotic vocal melodies of French frontwoman Laetitia Sadier and the sonic experimentation of Brit Timothy Gane, the band broke the mould of what alternative rock could be in the navel-gazing grunge era. The cosmic funk of Mildlife sets the scene for Stereolab, showcasing the psych, funk and jazz blend that’s seen the improvisational prodigies sell out shows around the country.
The history of soul was rewritten when Mavis Staples first picked up a microphone. A true living legend, Chicago-born Mavis Staples is woven into the fabric of gospel, soul and R&B music. An alchemist of American music, who has collaborated with the likes of Prince, Bob Dylan, Ben Harper and Arcade Fire, the unstoppable octogenarian performer has released over a dozen albums and been inducted into both the Blues Hall of Fame and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The once-in-a-generation artist will share her musical legacy as the sun sets over Zoo Twilights, with masterful support by one of the most inspiring voices in Australian soul, Emma Donovan, who will perform with her band The Putbacks.
Zoo Twilights invites concert-goers to pick a spot under the stars on Melbourne Zoo’s lawns for an unforgettable night of music. Taste of Twilights, a huddle of some of the city’s best food trucks and pop-up bars, neighbours the stage and serves up brews, snacks and street food. Zoo Twilights is an all-ages event.
Zoos Twilights is where culture and conservation collide, and, as always, all proceeds from the concert series will go towards Zoos Victoria’s conservation projects which this year support the fight for Australia’s only hibernating marsupial, the critically endangered Mountain Pygmy-possum.
Zoo Twilights is taking place on land that belongs to the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay respect to this country’s First Peoples past and present.
Tickets on sale 8am (AEDT) Tuesday, October 22 at www.zootwilights.org.au
Zoo Twilights 2020
Friday January 24 – Confidence Man, supported by Wax’o Paradiso
Saturday January 25 – ICEHOUSE, with special guests
Friday January 31 – Toots and The Maytals, supported by Systa BB
Saturday February 1 – An Evening With Randy Newman
Friday February 7 – Missy Higgins, supported by William Crighton
Friday February 14 – The Cat Empire, supported by Emily Wurramara
Friday February 21 – 10cc, supported by Russell Morris
Saturday February 22 – Methyl Ethel, supported by Hatchie
Friday February 28 – Julia Jacklin, supported by Weyes Blood
Saturday February 29 – Meg Mac, supported by Fergus James
Friday March 6 – Stereolab, supported by Mildlife
Saturday March 7 – Mavis Staples, supported by Emma Donovan and The Putbacks
ZOO TWILIGHTS 2020 24 January – 7 March