I remember seeing Chocolate Starfish for the first time, way back in the early 90s, a mostly unknown act at the time. They played to just a handful of people but they absolutely owned the room and blew that crowd away. It was this type of dynamic performance that led to mainstream success for the band in 1994 with the release of their debut self-titled album. Between this album and it’s follow-up Box, the band achieved two ARIA top 10 albums and a string of hit singles including their cover of Carly Simon’s You’re So Vain and their own Mountain.
Despite all of this early success, the band then disappeared and disbanded for quite a few years.
It wasn’t until this year’s Red Hot Summer Tour also featuring The Angels, The Screaming Jets, Baby Animals, & Suzi Quatro that I (and many others) became reacquainted with Chocolate Starfish. Playing to huge crowds across the country on this mostly sold-out tour, the band appeared to be back in fine form, and at the particular gig that I saw of this tour, Chocolate Starfish stole the show and were the performance highlight of the day for me.
Now, armed with their first new album in over 20 years, Spider, the band are back on the road in support and I was really excited and looking forward to seeing them again, this time at The Gov in Adelaide.
After all the hype they seemed to be generating online since the Red Hot Summer Tour, I was expecting quite a decent turn out for this gig so I was surprised to walk into the venue and find that it was to be more of an ‘intimate’ performance.
Opening the show was Adelaide’s progressive rock act Southern Empire. They got a reasonably warm response from the laid back and mostly seated crowd. Although their set was tight and well performed and the songs well crafted, their tunes weren’t of the foot-tapping, instantly catchy variety which would likely have worked a little better to warm up this particular crowd for the main act.
When the headliners hit the stage, everyone shuffled down to the front, leaving very few still seated. The room may not quite have been at full capacity, but right from the start of the set, Chocolate Starfish played as though they were performing to a huge arena full. Frontman Adam Thompson, dressed flamboyantly in black sequined jacket, is still as captivating a performer as he’s always been and his vocals are as powerful as ever, if not stronger than they were back in the 90s. New guitarist Zakk Zedras was a welcome addition to the band, matching the stage presence and energy of his longer-serving band-mates, clicking well with the powerful and tight rhythm section of bassist John Nixon and drummer Darren Danielson. The set itself was comprised of a good mix of CS songs from their 90s albums including Four-Letter Word, You’re So Vain, Mountain, and Accidentally Cool and also a few off of the new one, including the opener Farmer Loretta and Bad Dog, both infectiously catchy tunes. From the front of the room by the stage, where I was situated, it felt that The Gov was a full house. Everyone in attendance was singing along and the vibe was very feel-good as the band worked their way through their repertoire. As the set drew to a close, The Screaming Jets’ frontman Dave Gleeson was invited up on stage for an impromptu version of the Jets hit Shivers and the show was closed with a fun cover of the INXS classic New Sensation.
When the house lights came on, you could see in the faces of those in attendance that they’d been given their money’s worth.
It seems that Chocolate Starfish, in 2018, back out on the road with a new album, are once again in the position of spreading the word and building capacity at their live gigs. Given the charismatic and energetic performance they gave tonight, it seems likely that, as they did at the start of their career, word will spread and they will once again be playing to large crowds wherever they go.
Review Contributed by Kym Robey
Photos Contributed by Athol Maxwell-Davis
TOURING NATIONALLY THIS SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER
PERFORMING A TRIPLE J LIKE A VERSION THIS FRIDAY AUGUST 11
Kim Churchill today unveiled the official video clip for his latest single Second Hand Car. Taken from the upcoming album Weight_Falls, which will be released on August 25, Second Hand Car follows on from lead single Breakneck Speed which was released earlier this year.
“We shot this clip in one, chilly night in St Kilda” recalls Churchill. “It’s easily the most fun that I have ever had on a shoot and I was absorbed into this odd, surreal house and my role to find a way out of it.”
“Jeff Johnston, the director, had the idea to use specific, visual themes bounce off the music and lyrics of the track. The hundreds of tea cups in the kitchen scene represent the morning routines of an entire love affair. The piles and piles of suitcases represent an unrelenting desire to move on.”
“It was quite moving to be performing in the middle of these scenes, it was a brilliant visual experience for the song and the lighting design was unique and inspirational.”
The clip’s director Jeff Johnston said he “wanted to explore both a narrative that’s both extremely personal, yet universal at the same time. Everyone has experienced the limbo of breaking up with someone; your thoughts push and pull between wanting to stay with them and knowing that it’s best if it ends – almost like a mental tug of war. That sense of limbo was the jumping off point for Second Hand Car, and that I wanted to create a surreal representation of what feels like with all of the frozen individuals throughout this house stuck in a mindset they can’t get out of”.
The album Weight_Falls was written in Quebec during an emotional ‘up’ for Kim, who then spent two months piecing together the new recordings with ARIA-winning producer Ian Pritchett in a garage in Western Sydney. it’s a fitting taste of a newly refreshed, energised Churchill, whose previous single Window To The Sky(from the album Silence/Win) hit #42 on Triple J’s Hottest 100 of 2014.
Ahead of the album release and tour, Kim will head into Triple J this Friday August 11 to put his spin on another artists track and perform a Like A Version, be sure to tune in to hear what Kim has in store for us all!
KIM CHURCHILL AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES
Tickets on sale now from www.kimchurchill.com
THURSDAY 14 SEPTEMBER – CAMBRIDGE HOTEL, NEWCASTLE
FRIDAY 15 SEPTEMBER – UNIBAR, WOLLONGONG
SATURDAY 16 SEPTEMBER– STREET THEATRE, CANBERRA
THURSDAY 21 SEPTEMBER – THE JACK, CAIRNS
FRIDAY 22 SEPTEMBER – THE OFFICE, TOWNSVILLE
SATURDAY 23 SEPTEMBER – TIMBERFEST, MACKAY
FRIDAY 29 SEPTEMBER – CORNER HOTEL, MELBOURNE
SATURDAY 30 SEPTEMBER – KAROVA LOUNGE, BALLARAT
SUNDAY 1 OCTOBER – SOOKI LOUNGE, BELGRAVE
THURSDAY 5 OCTOBER – FAT CONTROLLER, ADELAIDE
FRIDAY 6 OCTOBER – WARATAH HOTEL, HOBART
SATURDAY 7 OCTOBER – ROYAL OAK, LAUNCESTON
FRIDAY 13 OCTOBER – FREMANTLE ARTS CENTRE FRONT LAWN, FREMANTLE
SATURDAY 14 OCTOBER – PRINCE OF WALES, BUNBURY
SUNDAY 15 OCTOBER – RED ROOM @ CLANCYS FISH PUB, DUNSBOROUGH
FRIDAY 20 OCTOBER – THE FACTORY, SYDNEY
THURSDAY 26 OCTOBER – SOLBAR, SUNSHINE COAST
FRIDAY 27 OCTOBER – SOUNDLOUNGE, GOLD COAST
SATURDAY 28 OCTOBER – THE TRIFFID, BRISBANE
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