Rockbrat Live Review: Baby Animals – Canberra, Australia, Monday 12 March, 2012

Photo by Melissa Adams
Photo by Melissa Adams

In 1991, Perth band Baby Animals were hot property. With a debut album that went to #1 on the Australian charts, a white hot band, catchy songs and eye catching female front person, their future looked bright. They existed up until 96 and have been reformed since 2007. Some history ? Why not. As is well known, the band’s first gig was at the Kardomah Café in Kings Cross, a venue where Mr. Rockbrat and I saw many a band and indeed a Kings Cross sunrise. This first show was under the name of ‘Woody’s Heroes’, (they were managed by John Woodruff), and they changed their name to ‘Baby Animals’, after seeing an advertisement for a local TV show, Wheel of Fortune, hosted by ‘Baby John Burgess’. In August 1990, the band signed a publishing deal with SBK Songs (now EMI Songs). Whilst attending one of their gigs, Terry Ellis, president of the newly formed Imago Recording Company signed them to his label. His recollection of Suzi Demarchi was,  “she clearly had that indefineable magic that separates one artist from the crowd and makes them a star.”The band recordced their debut album with 70’s super producer Mike Chapman at the helm. Released in early 1991, the debut album was chock full of hits. “Early Warning”, “Rush You”, “Painless”, “One Word”,  . The album was the highest-selling debut Australian rock album until the release of Jet’s album twelve years later. After listening to the band’s album, Bryan Adams asked the band to join him on his European tour. The band then toured in the opening slot for Van Halen’s “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge Tour” across America. Eddie Van Halen requested their presence after his wife Valerie heard their album, and suggested them. Sales of Baby Animals debut album reached 8 times platinum in Australia, and topped 800,000 worldwide. 500 shows later, the band took time out to record their follow up, 1993’s “Shaved and Dangerous”, produced by Ed Stasium. Supports with Robert Plant and then Extreme continued. At the time, the album didn’t grab me. Although I bought it, and it had some good tunes, it lacked the immediacy and melodic consistency of the debut album. So after the bands label folded, they followed suit in the mid 90s. They reformed in 2007 with all original members on board, though internal conflict saw the departure of Frank Celenza and Ed Parise. Since then,  Demarchi and guitarist Dave Leslie decided to continue with a couple of hand-picked Sydney musicians, Matt Cornell (bass/ vocals) (ex Adam Brand) and Mick Skelton (drums) (ex Wes Carr / Kevin Borich). Which brings me to the present. It’s 12 March, 2012, and Canberra Day in Australia’s capital. A public holiday. No excuces then not to make the effort to see the free outdoor gig down, with the Baby Animals on at 6.30. I arrived in time, purposely mind you, to miss the shit bands before them, including reggae hip hop Marvin Priest. Everybody knows – Cowboy Col HATES reggae. It was a small crowd, but that didn’t matter. The Baby Animals were GREAT live, playing a set that consisted on tunes primarily off their first two albums. Suzi Demarchi looks to be in incredible nick for a lass in her late 40’s. She’s the real deal – and she still kicks major ass. She mentioned several times that they were the ‘warm up’ act for teen pop sensations Shortstack. Nothing short of farcical. She rightly told the kids in the audience she was going to give them a rock n roll lesson. Youngun’s hate being told that – but she was right, and true to her word, she did just that. The last time I saw the Baby Animals was in early 92 at the Horden Pavillion with the Screaming Jets. 20 years later, they were still reminding me how great a band they are. Never let it be said that the Cowboy ain’t open minded. I hund around for 2 of Shortstacks tunes. Hey, it’s like the Osmonds for the 90s’. These clowns have all the moves. They’ve studied all their rockstar 101 videos and prance around the stage as if they’ve been at it for 20 years. The bass player had a headband on (?) and with his foot up on the monitor, he tried hard to show and all sundry that he is a genuine rock dude. Wrong on so many counts I cant be bothered tearing these dorks to pieces. The 10 year old girls at the front dug it. Anyway – if you get a chance, go see the Baby Animals if they come your way…..(thanks to Wikepdia for all the facts of this article)

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