Baby Animals @ Mansfield Tavern 24.4.09


I must admit that, while I've always loved the Baby Animals' music, I had never actually had the pleasure of seeing them perform. That is, until Friday night when the band brought their hard-hitting brand of Aussie rock and roll to Brisbane's Mansfield Tavern.

I was keen to see for myself if they still had the same energy that made them such a force in the 90's. Does Suze still have what it takes to rock the house? Obviously, there were many music fans who firmly believed she did. Quite a few of them were crowded around the stage, champing at the bit with anticipation to see their idol.

But, first, we were treated to a short set by support act, The Spazzys; a three piece all girl punk/pop band, hailing from Melbourne. With energy to burn, and an impressive catalogue of songs for a band of their young years, The Spazzys delivered a strong performance and their catchy tunes won the crowd over. Definitely a band to watch out for.

By the time the Baby Animals appeared, the crowd had swelled and, if you weren't already down the front, you could forget about trying. The screams were deafening when lead singer, Suze DeMarchi, strutted on to the stage. From the moment the set opened with Rush You, it was pretty clear that we were in for a night of no-holds-barred, in-your-face rock and roll, played the way it was meant to be played - loud!

For some obscure reason, there was a box of vegetables sitting on stage and, at one point, Suze took out a few carrots and tossed them into the crowd and placed what seemed to be a very large cucumber down the front of her pants. Hmmmm... Well, back to the music. That's what we're here for, after all.

The vibe was electric when Suze strapped on her guitar and launched into Painless, and the crowd was definitely at fever pitch for One Word. Then, surprise... surprise.. guitarist Dave Leslie's son, Vaughn, walked on stage and took over for a very impressive drumming performance on Stitch. Even more impressive when you consider that Vaughn is only 14 years old. As Suze very proudly pointed out 'Ladies and gentlemen, the future of rock and roll!'

They played all their big hits and fans knew every word. But they were also promoting some new tracks, including Hot Air Balloon and their new single Got It Bad, another gritty rock song, reminiscent of their first hit single Early Warning. Judging by the audience reaction, the band could easily have another hit on their hands.

As expected, Early Warning was the finale and left the very vocal crowd wanting more. When they returned for the encore, the band members switched places - and instruments. Matt Cornell and Mick Skelton played guitar, Suze showed off her drumming skills and Dave took over on bass and lead vocals on the band's version of The Raconteurs' song, Steady As She Goes.

Suze was back on centre stage once more for One Too Many and the night's closing song, Ain't Gonna Get before leaving behind a very enthusiastic and very satisfied Brisbane crowd.

It has been a year since the Baby Animals last toured here and there have been some changes along the way. Bass player Matt Cornell and drummer Mick Skelton were recruited for this tour, cheekily titled the Wish U Were Her tour. Matt and Mick previously toured with Shannon Noll and replace previous bassist Eddie Parise and drummer Frank Celenza. The new line-up is obviously working. Friday's show was classic rock and the Queen of Oz Rock has shown us, once and for all, that she is a long, long way from tossing out her crown.

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