[LIVE REVIEW] Chocolate Starfish @ Memo Music Hall, Melbourne 7/04/2018

Tonight is of very special significance to all members of Chocolate Starfish and a certain reverence in present and prominent for all in the know, because tonight is the official launch of the band’s latest offering in Spider.

The album is such a magnificent way to celebrate the life of Zoran ‘Spider’ Romic, who passed away in 2012 from after battling Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and sadly succumbed to the illness.  To those of us who enjoyed Spider’s years with Chocolate Starfish, take some comfort that Spider was able to see the reformation of the band prior to his passing.  I simply find it more agreeable to think in those terms, rather than entertain the thought that Spider was tragically torn from the group as soon as they began their road back to success.  Nevertheless, Zoran never really left the band from metaphysical perspective and front man Adam Thompson’s description of Zoran during this recent interview is moving to say the least.

Needless to repeat, but certainly strongly felt tonight, this is an extremely august and emotive occasion.

As the crowd are welcomed into the Memo Music Hall, a pleasant reminder of how professional the staff are within the walls of this establishment.  Professionally attired crowd controllers welcome patrons as valued customers and set the atmosphere beautifully for the attentive service staff within the venue.  From smiling, welcoming hosts, to friendly, professional and courteous bar staff, this is one of those stand out venues who understand that money is increasingly difficult to come by.  For those patrons who choose to spend their hard earned on a night out in celebration of band and perhaps a few bevvies to achieve a suitable state of social refreshment, the staff here value their selection of venue above most and treat each and every customer with the respect they deserve.  Even those few who have taken the liquefied merriment a little too far are treated with courtesy, respect and as someone who would probably not behave in such a manner in normal circumstances.

As Mr Paul Woseen prepares to demonstrate that his skills on stage, far exceed his usual bass contributions within the ranks of The Screaming Jets, the audience settle for a night of enjoyment and celebration.  Paul is a celebrated song writer and musician so to some who have not experienced his solo performances, this was a genuine treat.  From his own works that have been floating around since his very first bands to supremely impressive covers such as Freefallin’ written by the late, great Tom Petty, Paul provided a tremendous opening set to warm the crowd for the main event.

Before Chocolate Starfish take to the stage, I will seize opportunity set the scene a little further. Right back to the days of Circus Charlie or for those who remember the magical days, Show Of Hands supporting the mighty Motorhead at the Prince Of Wales Hotel in St,Kilda, Melbourne, Adam Thompson has carved his mark upon the memories of audiences an all thrills, no holds barred and magnificent all round entertainer.  From extensive visits to see this band performs in the early to mid 90’s, I can attest to the fact that Adam in particular, has never truly aligned the measure of his commitment to performance, with the numbers at the door count.  You get 100% and not one ounce less, every show, every time.  After chatting a little further with the wonderful Mel and admiring the blending of the Chocolate Starfish logo into the Spider album design, it’s time to see the group let loose on this impressive Melbourne assembly and celebrate like Spider is right there with them.

Tim Henwood performed guitar for Spider and is frequently on stage with the band, but as the front man for and mastermind behind the sensational band Palace Of The King, is off in Europe taking rock to adoring masses.  Fortunately the skilful Zakk Zedras steps into the breech to provide the licks, riffs and shredding for the evening.  Having enjoyed his work with the band during some performances on the Red Hot Summer Tour, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to watch his remarkable rock style yet again.

At the keyboard we enjoy another founding member of Chocolate Starfish in Norman Falvo, who is not only a skilled musician, but also a thorough gentleman.  His musical contributions have been at the heart of Chocolate Starfish since they were merely The Hodads, and his skills are crucial to the bands unique style and sound.

John “Stone” Nixon on bass guitar and Darren Danielson on drums are long serving members of Chocolate Starfish.  They both committed to the band in early 1993, and probably a little before that as well (shhh…don’t tell Juno) after the disbanding of Roxus at the same time.  The two were already more than familiar to providing the rhythmic and percussive backbone to music, working together as far back as Windsor Jamm, and have been essential elements of Chocolate Starfish ever since.

From the first notes of the fantastic song Farmer Loretta, the audience is reminded of how magnificent this band truly is and why it is such a sensational privilege it is that we can enjoy their music, both old and new, and all over again. All Over Me followed by Ten Feet Tall in sequence, just as they appeared on the 1994 debut album satisfied the ‘old school’ fan within but then an air of reverence swept over as Heavyweight, a track co-written by Zoran and Adam, provides timely reminder of what tonight is all about.

Mountain, Mother Lover, Accidentally Cool, Head all provide a sensational blend of past hits and modern fan favourites, and if only the entire world could see what this crowd are witnessing tonight, we would see Chocolate Starfish touring the world with music celebrated across every continent and in every country. Their modern offerings lack none of their signature sound and past appeal but a contemporary edge is afforded to each, providing all the hooks required to hold our enthusiasm.

Four Letter Word, Sin City, Bad Dog and You’re So Vain round off what has been a stellar performance from a magnificent modern rock show, but the crowd are not quite as spent as Adam would prefer, so its back on stage to give them a little more.  Ballroom Blitz by The Sweet, a little Bohemian Rhapsody from Queen will slap us silly but New Sensation by INXS is offered with the announcement the Chocolate Starfish will perform the classic INXS album Kick on Saturday 14 July 2018.  With sweat dripping from every brow and a wide smile across every dial, thoroughly exhausted from the fabulous rocking we have all enjoyed, I firmly believe that although wonderfully battered and beaten, every member of the audience would have gladly headed strain for The Palms at Crown to see this show right away.  Certainly all those who have witnessed the successful string of Meat Loaf’s ‘Bat Out of Hell’ album shows, know how brilliant is the Chocolate Starfish Classic Albums Series and none here have any intention of missing out.

But for those who have failed to relive the finest of ‘90’s Chocolate Starfish, mixed with their magnificent contemporary works, you still have opportunity at:-

FRI 13 APR, 8PM – Adelaide Spider Showcase, The Gov Hindmarsh, SA

TUE 24 APR – Mornington Spider Showcase, The Grand Hotel, Mornington, VIC

FRI 4 MAY, 6PM – Chocolate Starfish at the Leadbelly, Newtown

Chocolate Starfish remain a band that Melbourne is fiercely proud of and their music is a staple for so many the world over, but to see them all performing tonight, at least as brilliantly as ever before, taking a crowd to the brink of melodic ecstasy, and a few far beyond, is an opportunity all fine music aficionados should seize with both hands, legs wrapped around and fangs in the neck Spider style.  In return you will be caught in the Chocolate Starfish web of stage show brilliance and not released until most of your bodily fluids have been offered up to fuel their determination to bring us more and more.

What a show, what a night.  Thank you Chocolate Starfish and we won’t be far behind you. (hehehe)

Review Contributed by Casper of Rohan