For a performer who has played on the biggest stages in the land, it was certainly going to be interesting watching Doc Neeson perform in a small venue like the Hotel Gearin in Katoomba with his backing band.
With Neeson playing to a vocal crowd of punters, it was a magical night of acoustic and electric that was a virtual review of the Doc Neeson/Angels catalogue and a background into his songwriting.
Neeson appeared to enjoy the relaxed, intimate setting, chatting between songs, explaining how the ideas came to him and where he was at the time of writing them. It was a treat to get an insight into this legendary performer and his music on a platform different to what we are used to.
The acoustic arrangement of the songs was very tasteful and showcased Neeson’s voice, proving that it didn’t always have to be that of a rock n roll screamer. Songs like "Out of the Blue”, “Face the Day” and “I Ain’t the One” were sung with a twist, as was “Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again” which was written about two university lovers who were tragically torn apart by an accident …. and no, the crowd didn’t add the well known chant during this slower version of the song!
Some of the songs were about people Neeson had met and was inspired by lyrically. “No Secrets”, he explains, is about an actress that he had given a lift to, who spilled her life story to him in a space of 10 minutes!
Other songs played acoustically were “Shadow Boxer”, “Love takes Care” and, to finish off the set, “Marseille”, all of which were played brilliantly by his recently formed band of musicians.
After a short break, the atmosphere changed from relaxed to upbeat with the electric set. This repertoire had some songs backing up from the acoustic set but it was more indulgent on what Neeson obviously liked to sing, with many songs being off the later albums.
The set opened with “Who Rings a Bell” which was followed by “Land of Illusion” from the self-titled Red Phoenix album, a band Neeson formed in the early 2000’s. Also played were "Running like a Cat” and “Big Star Baby” in which Neeson comments about the state of today’s media and the empty rhetoric they peddle.
Other lesser known but no less entertaining songs included “Hardsell”, which was co written with Cold Chisel’s Don Walker around the time of the No Exit album, this was followed by “Better off Alone”.
As noted before, some of the acoustic songs were backing up and “Face the Day” and “Marseille” finished off the night …. or so we thought. By this stage, a number of people were up and dancing away, enjoying the close proximity the venue provided to their idol.
Although a small crowd, they were very vocal in demanding an encore. Neeson took this opportunity to invite Nicki Gillis to join him for the finale of “Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again”. Gillis is an Australian country music singer currently enjoying success in the UK.
The punters were now in full swing, buoyant by the top class entertainment they were witnessing in what can best be described as a friendly party atmosphere. This time adding the famous chant to a legendary song that will remain a part of Australian music history forever.
Overall, it was a great night and in the words of Doc Neeson “You Should Have Been There”.
Don’t miss this one.
Double click on an image to view gallery
refresh your browser if image does not appear