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