They Who Rock
The Screaming Jets & Baby Animals
NEX, Newcastle NSW
30th June, 2017
Support: The Palace of the King
A big night in Newcastle. One bill with the towns beloved, The Screaming Jets and another Australian hard rock favourite, Baby Animals. This is the first time that the Baby Animals have been in Newcastle for some time but The Screaming Jets are obviously live in town fairly often. The venue tonight is Panthers/Wests Newcastle (Club Nex), however, to the old school, it is “Newy Workers.” This building has hosted so many iconic line-ups over the years, but not so many in the last decade to be honest. It is a cold night in Newcastle, but with the gig nearly totally sold out, it was always going to heat up inside.
The support tonight was a Melbourne based 70’s prog rock style band called The Palace of the King, and before they announced themselves, I had never heard of them. The only had a thirty minute set, but boy did they make the most of it. They were extremely impressive, great crunchy riffs, beautiful 70’s keyboard sound and a vocalist who had the full range. They warmed up the room so well and in a number of ways actually stole the show. They remarkably have two albums out and a few EPs but I had never heard of them. This is a band definitely to check out live, and probably their back catalogue; I bought a few this morning. I would have loved to have seen them with a longer set under a larger PA.
The Baby Animals came on to the scene in the late eighties, early nineties, and hit the circuit hard with their self-titled debut. They were quickly propelled on to the international market, and played some of the biggest stages in the world and considering they only lasted for about five years on the scene, this could be a reason why. It may have been too much too soon, that coupled with vocalist/guitarist Suzi Demarchi marrying Nuno Bettencourt from Extreme. In their “day” they were an amazing live act with energy, talent and strong material so I was looking forward to their show tonight, some ten years now in to their reformation.
The Newcastle audience was ready to receive Suzi and crew but the band seemed to just go through the motions tonight. I thought they would have come to blow people away, but that wasn’t the case. Suzi definitely still has her voice, she nailed the songs, but as a front person she was sluggish and quite possibly intoxicated. Lead guitarist Dave Leslie, who has been far from inactive between the Baby Animals “careers,” was brilliant and played as he always does. They played through a fairly predictable set, comprising mainly of their 1991 debut album, but let’s be honest, that’s what people turned up to hear. The crowd reacted well to each song and basically sung along throughout the hits. The Baby Animals are a fantastic Australian hard rock act but they performed tonight with not much energy or conviction. I just hope they were on a bad night as they didn’t instil a lot of confidence in me on the basis of this set. But to be fair, a lot of the Newcastle crowd probably wouldn’t agree with me on this!
Now to The Screaming Jets, they can’t really go wrong in front of a Newcastle audience to be honest, however, they are a strong and extremely credible band in their own right. The Screaming Jets like the Baby Animals were at the height of their success around the early nineties, and on the back of their first two releases. The Screaming Jets, however, never went away, they have always been here, producing albums and touring around the country. I think the band have reached an iconic “pub band” status these days and people always come out to see them, even if they haven’t bought a new album from them since 1992. The Screaming Jets are not the same band physically as they were back then, but they are still The Screaming Jets. The band still embodies all of the things that made them a household name twenty five years ago.
The band hit the stage and the place went nuts. Looking around the crowd I reckon there would have been a few there who used to go and see them at the Belair Hotel in Kotara before they were even signed, and the music tonight seemed to transcend everyone back to that time and when they were that age; some will be sore tomorrow, and for the next week or so. Dave Gleeson (vocals…as if you didn’t know) stole the show for me tonight. He has always been the Aussie larrikin personified in a front man. He is cheeky, crass, at times a “potty mouth” and always the jokster. He had the Novocastrians eating out of his hand. He sung really well tonight, and really shone on tracks such as ‘Shine On‘ and ‘Helping Hand‘. The new material from their latest release Chrome held its ground and they sat really well in to the set; this is always a good sign. The other member, and only remaining original band member, that really impressed me, was Paul Woseen. I remember the first time I ever saw them in 1991, just after their debut EP was released, just how solid a bass player he was and just what a great singing voice he had. He still has it all today and was very impressive tonight. The Jets set went extremely quickly tonight also, always a good sign for me, and the band really jelled together. Even though they have been around for over thirty years there seems to be no real end in sight on the back of tonight’s performance, they were very impressive and the set reminded me of why I have always loved this Aussie icon.
This was a night of traditional Australian rock music, an impressive support act in The Palace of the King, a trip down memory lane with Baby Animals, despite their performance not quite hitting the mark tonight, and an energy infused set by The Screaming Jets. I am pretty sure that nearly all of the Novocastrians present at the gig had a great night, but judging how they left the auditorium in a somewhat comatose state, I don’t think they will remember much today.
Gig review by Mark Snedden
They Who Rock Tour – Baby Animals & The Screaming Jets
with Special Guests: The Palace of the King
Saturday, 1st July – Wrest Point Casino, Hobart
Friday, 7th July – 170 Russell, Melbourne
Saturday, 8th July – Chelsea Heights Hotel, Chelsea Heights
Grab Your Tickets Here