Clairy Browne And The Bangin’ Rackettes @ Melbourne Zoo
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Clairy Browne And The Bangin’ Rackettes @ Melbourne Zoo

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I love a good trip to the zoo, and what better way to enjoy it than combining the usual delights of zoological hi-jinks with live music? Friday night was my first excursion to the Zoo Twilights, and with Clairy Browne and The Bangin’ Rackettes plus Chris Russell’s Chicken Walk providing entertainment, the excitement was justified. 

The environment was perfect for a picnic, and these events seem to cater for families and more archetypal gig-goers alike. The show opened with an announcement from a zoo staff member reminding people that these gigs are to help raise money for animal conservation, punctuated by a roar from the nearby lion enclosure – something that would happen regularly throughout the show. 

Chris Russell strutted onstage immediately after and started banging out instrumental jams and making terrible jokes. It definitely contributed to the atmosphere and set people at ease – a testament to his larger-than-life stage presence and ability to win a crowd over. By the time he got into his songs with words, including an acapella number accompanied by handclaps, the crowd was really enjoying his brand of raw blues and an older gentleman in a loud shirt was dancing vigorously as close to the front of the stage as zoo staff would let him, where he remained for Chris’ entire set.

After a break, the band came on first, followed by the Bangin’ Rackettes, followed by Clairy herself, to thunderous applause. The showmanship and theatrical aspect of the entrance jam was the perfect introduction of things to come, and really set the mood of the band’s performance. Ms Browne demanded that the crowd ‘get up off their arses and get dancing’ – they did, at least as much as a Melbourne crowd can. 

As anybody who has seen or heard Clairy Browne before will attest, she has a commanding voice and presence, and her classic soul voice and songwriting sensibility are positively engaging. Her pseudo-cover involving the chorus from Salt N Pepa’s What A Man left the crowd wanting more, with its mix of contemporary and ‘90s throwback styles. They played Toys, a track off the forthcoming record that got people moving with its classic soul and rock sounds, but a very modern R&B twist. 

Upon thanking each band member and providing a roaring instrumental outro, the band were persuaded back onstage by an audience screaming for more, and they didn’t disappoint, choosing You Don’t Owe Me Nothing for their electrifying encore. 

You’ve probably already seen them, but Clairy Browne and the Bangin’ Rackettes just keep getting better. 

BY REI BARKER
Photos by Kate Davis 

Loved: The music and the lions.

Hated: Having to leave the grounds to smoke.

Drank: Ginger beer.