BABY ANIMALS Debut Album 25th Anniversary gig. The Forum, Melbourne. 21-05-2016.


Words Anthony Moore.
Photos Stephen Boxshall.

© Stephen Boxshall 2016.Baby Animals self-titled debut from 1991 was one of the first albums I bought on CD and what an absolute cracker it is too! Fast forward to, unbelievably, 25 years later and the band are touring playing the album in its entirety. Two sets of Baby Animals; the first with a mix of songs from the current lineup of Suze DeMarchi (vocals, guitar), Dave Leslie (guitar), Dario Bortolin (bass) and Mick Skelton (drums), the second set playing their debut with the original lineup, DeMarchi, Leslie, Eddie Parise (bass) and Frank Celenza (drums).

There was no support band opening up, just straight into Baby Animals. They kicked the night off with ‘Got It Bad’ from 2013’s This Is Not The End album. Leslie was having some amp issues to start off with but it didn’t put a dampener on things at all, the rest of the band already had the room’s attention and DeMarchi’s vocals, amazing power and tone! The first time I’ve ever caught Baby Animals live and in the first few seconds of hearing her sing I decided it will definitely not be the last!

Stand outs from the first set were ‘Hot Air Balloon’ with DeMarchi’s kick arse rock vocals, Bortolin’s thumping bass lines and Leslie summoning up Thorpey with a killer solo; ‘Bonfires’, a song about DeMarchi’s home town of Perth, full of superb vocal layering and such a smooth vibe, and live it was absolutely stunning; ‘Under Your Skin’, the closer of the first set, more solid bass lines from Bortolin and also a great example of Baby Animals song writing strength.

At times during the first set the band seemed to lose the crowd. They were still giving it their all and sounded tight, so I’m not sure whether it was due to people not knowing all of the songs or simply just the anticipation of what was to come in the second set, regardless Baby Animals current line up rocked solid throughout. They ended the set with DeMarchi enjoying the setup of the night, “Hope you stick around for the next band, they’re really good too!”

When Baby Animals came on for their second set to play their debut with the original lineup, it was like it was a completely different band. Yes, the rhythm section was different, and although the first set rocked, that original lineup chemistry shone through from the outset. Even DeMarchi came out with her longer hair pinned up at the back, maybe to look more like the older photos, or maybe she was just hot.

It didn’t take much for the crowd to go nuts, a few seconds into the intro of ‘Rush You’ and we were all 25 years younger! And when DeMarchi sang “But I love a love a love you” in the chorus, pointing out to the room, easily one of the biggest cheers of the night!

As you’d expect, the singles from the album got some of the biggest reactions, like the previously mentioned ‘Rush You’, ‘Early Warning’, ‘Painless’, and ‘One Word’. Two of the highlights were easily ‘Working For The Enemy’ and also another single from the album, ‘Ain’t Gonna Get’. The former has such a catchy driving feel and when DeMarchi starts singing the chorus, magic. The latter is just a pure rock’n’roll anthem; up there with Suzi Quatro’s ‘Can The Can’, Joan Jett’s ‘I Love Rock’n’Roll’, and The Runaways ‘Cherry Bomb’. Along with ‘Painless’, ‘Ain’t Gonna Get’ had the biggest crowd singalong.

With the constant barrage of new music always being released, it’s easy to forget just what sort of an impact some releases have. Baby Animals self-titled album held the record for the highest-selling debut Australian rock album of all time for 12 years. I‘ve always loved that album but hearing it live for the first time was massive, I’d almost forgotten how perfectly crafted the songs are from beginning to end.

Set One:
Got It Bad
Hot Air Balloon
Don’t Tell Me What to Do
Warm Bodies
Invisible Dreamer
Under Your Skin

Set Two:
Rush You
Early Warning
Make It End
Big Time Friends
Working For The Enemy
One Too Many
One Word
Break My Heart
Waste Of Time
Ain’t Gonna Get

Get Me Some Wings
Fire (Jimi Hendrix Experience)
Baby Animals

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Sat 28 May, Enmore Theatre, Sydney: Tickets.