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LIVE THE BABY ANIMALS & STEVE BALBI NOVEMBER 2013

THE BABY ANIMALS AND STEVE BALBI LIVE AT THE ASTOR THEATRE 2 NOVEMBER 2013

 

THE BABY ANIMALS LIVE AT THE ASTOR

WITH STEVE BALBI, FEED THE BIRDS AUSTRALIAN TOUR 2013

CHECK OUT OUR INTERVIEW WITH SUZE FROM THE BABY ANIMALS HERE...

CHECK OUT OUR INTERVIEW WITH STEVE BALBI HERE...

THE BABY ANIMALS WERE BACK 'HOME' IN PERTH TO ROCK THE ASTOR. THE ROCKPIT WAS THERE TO SEE HOW THE NEW SONGS STACK UP AGAINST THE CLASSICS...

 

 

With a collection of sweet songs, some decent harp and lively acoustic, opening act Olly Brown with his stripped back tales of life is a decent enough opening act but not really right for the bill tonight. His voice is fine though, and he engages the crowd well with a few throwaway lines and a resonant voice, and there’s some decent Dylanesque harp too and a standout song in ‘Empty Cup’ but then he goes and loses it all rolling the dice on a cover of ‘The Joker’ that comes out a little flat.

 

 

Steve Balbi, whose first solo album ‘Black Rainbow’ is out now and available in the foyer is another proposition entirely and whilst the album is sweet and soulful, tonight with his full band, he plays to the audience – amping up and extending some of the songs from his album to great effect.

 


Starting out with the song and the question ‘Why Did It Take so Long’ he so nearly has the crowd from the off, but not quite. The sing-along does it, and despite referring to the crowd as ‘old fuckers’ whilst intoning us to sing (we are in the main but we don’t need to be reminded Steve) he has us all bar one. The heckler in the room is dealt with swiftly enough with an “I’ve got ear plugs in mate, if it was really good shout it louder… thought so.”


 


Balbi’s set in truth is nothing short of outstanding and full of passion and energy. At times he’s invoking the Beatles, at others Bowie, at others there’s a modern rock feel like on the powerfully building ‘I Found You’. “Every night someone calls out for a Noiseworks song” he tells us before launching into ‘Touch’ which he describes as a ‘love song’ and which he’s stripped right back to the core. It’s a powerful moment both musically as it builds to a crescendo and also for the crowd who sing along and are engaged for the rest of the set. Timing wise the song’s position so early is a masterstroke.

 


With the audience on board Balbi pulls out the best from Black Rainbow, intoning the crowd to come a little closer, as an annoying bunch of drunken twenty-somethings stagger about the floor taking pictures of each other rather than the action on stage. It works and the atmosphere builds as does the crowd, and thinks get funky with ‘Sweet Sabotage’ and ‘Protection’ laid back standouts.

 


It’s ‘Be My Guide’ though that really starts the party with its funk rock precision before a winding and  towering ‘From Love to Dust’ lowers the mood again before building to a swelling and sweeping high octane closer that ebbs and flows like all the best. “Is it good to be alive” Steve asks before leaving the stage.

 

 

 

 


The Baby Animals take to the stage at the Astor in near darkness in front of a decent but certainly not packed house, but it’s clear from the off that the house is full of true believers as they seem to not only know the words to the early material but also the new album too.

 


In truth it’s a strange set, relying as it does so heavily on the new record – only two tracks from which don’t make the cut tonight, which means that the new far outweighs the old – as we get a decent hit of the debut, but only three tracks from ‘Shaved and Dangerous’ along with a DeMarchi solo track. Call it brave, call it foolish, one thing is clear is that it works, it sounds great and the crowd most importantly love it.

 


“It’s great to be back in Perth” Suze tells us before launching into the set, and its immediately obvious that the new rhythm section is doing Suze and fellow conspirator from the original line-up Dave Leslie the power of good. Blasting out old and new it’s also worth mentioning the lighting simple but effective with a set of lights on each member of the band.

 


As with any band with a history though, there’s a general level of crowd engagement and one reserved for the favourites. The funky intro to ‘Painless’ is the first time the expectation is palpable and The Baby Animals once hitting that mark know how to keep it there. Dedicating ‘Don’t tell me what to do’ to her nieces, and after a divesting herself of a troublesome scarf DeMarchi refuses to let off the pace.

 

 

 

‘One Word’ and ‘Rush You’ slip beautifully between newer material and as set lists go the balance is close to perfect. “Who came to the listening party today?” Suze asks before she’s interrupted by feedback, she bats away with a simple “Fix It”. Not a lady to cross obviously!

 


‘Hot Air Balloon’s Hendrixy vibe is certainly one of the highlights from the new album, and after ‘feeding the birds’ (drizzling wine into the open mouths of the front row), it’s back to the fireworks. With a push back of the hair we’re into a ferocious rendition of ‘E-mail’- “If someone DPs you in an email you write a song about it and fucking put it out as a single”…

 


And despite a slightly thinning crowd it is of course ‘Early Warning’ that closes the set proper with a bang.
Back with an encore consisting of ‘One Too Many’ from their debut and ‘Winter’s Day’ from the new album it was a slightly unexpected, but effective way to end. And when the band kicked into their final song – one of my favourites ‘Ain’t Gonna Get’ which closed that first album back in the day you are reminded of how great a band The Baby Animals once were and how great they and the new material sounds now.  

 

 

by Mark Diggins 2 November 2013

 

 

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