Review: SYMPHONY OF ANGELS - Adelaide Festival Centre, Saturday, 17th April 2010

Photo by Deb Martin.

Many thanks to Anne Souter for the following review...


Anne Souter reports on the highly successful integration of classic Angels rock hits with classical blasts from the past and more contemporary soaring symphonic magic

It was a night that will undoubtedly go down in Australian rock history as one of the greatest Angels gigs ever.

On Saturday, April 17, 2010 Adelaide experienced its second earthquake in 24 hours – the rumbling of a massive foot-stamping crowd roaring “ANGELS! ANGELS! ANGELS!” in Adelaide’s fabulous Festival Theatre where Doc Neeson, Rick and John Brewster, Buzz Bidstrup and Chris Bailey were making a dramatic appearance with the 30-piece Adelaide Art Orchestra. This was the first time The Angels had ever played with the backing of a symphony orchestra, and some die-hard Angels fans - many of whom had flown in from other states – declared it would be a night they’d remember until they died.

Following a jam-packed Mayoral Civic reception welcoming The Angels back to Adelaide the night before, there had been a real earthquake in the city – a fitting lead-up to this earth-shattering Rock Symphony.

The last time a Lord Mayor of Adelaide had given such a reception it was for The Beatles, and Doc told everyone that he had been there that day. He had got some friends to hang onto his ankles while he hung himself so far outside the window of a tall building opposite the Town Hall that The Beatles actually noticed him and gave him a thumbs-up sign.

But on April 17, there was a different kind of thrill. The Symphony of Angels’ opening Overture, somewhat reminiscent of Phantom Of The Opera, was in fact written over 100 years ago by a famous conductor/composer, Brewster Jones, who happens to have been none other than the grandfather of The Angels’ Brewster brothers. This provided a magnificent start to what came next - a set list straight from Rock Heaven.

And leaping out of the red-edged shadows came the mighty Angels, with all the force of a dark wind from Hell. And, while they thundered, the symphony wove a wicked spell into the storm until the whole thing took flight.

With songs like After The Rain, Straitjacket, Fashion & Fame, Skid Row After Dark, Face The Day and Long Line, the band quickly became an unstoppable blast furnace, and beautiful young violinists, after wafting in like gentle spirits, suddenly started to unleash a fury that turned them into wrathful demons, burning bright amongst powerful horns and other orchestral splendour. And then there was Outcast, which has also been miraculously transformed.

Filled with standing ovations, the second half of the show offered up a powerful acoustic set, with Doc accompanying himself on a rare 1932 Dobro. Then Rick took to the piano for the romantic songs Love Takes Care and Be with You, which were followed by the searing shock of Dawn is Breaking, and Wasted Sleepless Nights, with Hammond organ. The orchestra built up the intensity of Dawn is Breaking - a chillingly prophetic epic, given the current climate of wars in The Middle East and elsewhere in the world.

Doc swooped on the unexpecting but clearly delighted audience and held them in the palm of his hand, while he sang and spoke the menacing words contained in early Angels favourites like Dawn is Breaking and then he stood Christ-like in blinding white light with arms outstretched, and jumped into the front stalls which had become a mosh-pit, moving in slow-motion amongst the crowd, which was screaming for more after Wasted Sleepless Nights, No Exit and No Secrets. So next we got Out Of ThIs Place, Shadow Boxer and Marseilles.

Just when we thought it was all over, Devil’s Gate came crashing down on us, and John Brewster's hell-bound harmonica solo was spell-binding. Happily the band hadn’t forgotten to include Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again? And neither had the crowd forgotten what to answer. Hopefully this will not be the last performance like this and there will be more concerts with symphony orchestras across the country in future.

Review by Anne Souter

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Comment by Jeanette Uren on May 2, 2010 at 7:29pm
Hypnotic, spell binding, angelic and just plain awesome. I was in awe the entire concert. When I thought it could not get any better John Brewster whips out the harmonica. A few more classics and again when I thought this cannot be topped the orchestra very softly played the chorus to Am I Ever?
Doc then crowd surfed 2 rows right in front of us. Again AWESOME!!!!!
Comment by Helen Athanassiou on April 21, 2010 at 10:17pm
Damn shame a car accident kept me away! Thanks Annie and Rock Club Forty!
Comment by Suzanne Bunker on April 21, 2010 at 12:17pm
Great review!!!! I am SO disappointed I missed the concert. Hopefully they will do it at least one more time somewhere and I WILL be there.

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