Thanks to Suzanne Bunker for this review and photos.
January 4th 2016 would have been Doc Neeson’s 69th birthday. Here we were 19 months after he lost his life to brain cancer to celebrate his birthday, life and music.
The night opened with young singer and guitarist Natasha Duarte playing a set of acoustic covers and originals. It seemed so fitting to have this young lady open the show. Doc was a great supporter of young musicians and here he was, in a roundabout sort of way, supporting another young, local talent.
Her set was followed by a video tribute to Doc. A tribute that had the audience in silent awe. A reminder of what a great and humble man Doc was.
Then the rock and roll began.
Sydney band Stellar doubled as the Doc Neeson Solo band. On this night at the Rooty Hill RSL they performed the final set they played with Doc in October 2012. Doc’s final full public concert. Guest singers for this very special night were Suzy Leavy, Steve Mulry, Mark Da Costa, Matt Bresolin and Tony Townsend. All five singers did justice to the songs. All five singers shared their love and admiration for Doc not just through their performances but with stories and words of admiration.
Mark was inspired by Doc but sadly never had the opportunity to meet the great man but shared how humbled he was to have met Doc’s son Kieran backstage before the show. Matt and Suzy are both members of Stellar, Suzy making mention of the gratitude she has that Doc was her mentor. There was no mistaking the influence Doc has had on these five singers and no mistaking the admiration they have for him.
The band rocked from the opening song ‘Back Street Pick Up’ through Angels classics including ‘After The Rain’, ‘Marseilles’, ‘Face the Day’ and ‘Shadow Boxer,’ a few songs from Doc’s band Red Phoenix and covers ‘Working Class Hero’, ‘This Will Be the Last Time’ and ‘Before You Accuse Me’. The set also included a song penned with band member Mitch Hutchinson, ‘No Money’.
There were many highlights of the night. Suzy’s performance of ‘Be With You’ was beautiful. Tony’s thumping version of ‘Marseilles’ was spot on but the best was left to the encore. All five singers performed ‘Love Takes Care’; a beautiful song that last sent shivers up my spine at the Rock for Doc benefit in 2013 and did again on this night. Then came the final song, crowd favourite ‘Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again’ sung by Doc’s son Kieran. Kieran’s heartfelt speech prior to rockin’ it out with this Angels classic had the audience in the palm of his hands, just like his father had the ability to do. His performance carried the same passion and crowd engagement that his father was so well known for. Doc was certainly looking down on his son on Monday night.
There is no doubt in my mind that Doc was up in Heaven smiling down on the Rooty Hill RSL. He would have been so proud of not just Kieran but everyone who graced the stage. As Kieran said, Doc spoke highly of this band; he loved performing with them. On this night the fans that came out loved them too.
The night was a celebration. Sure there were some quiet moments, time to reflect, time to wish Doc was still with us but as the band and singers rocked and Kieran performed, you got a real sense that Doc is still with us; just from afar.
Thank you to Mitch Hutchinson for organising the night; thank you to Stellar (Matt Bresolin on basss, Dave Roberts on drums, Mark Fenwick and Mitch Hutchinson on guitars) and to the singers for sharing your talent, passion and love.
It was a great night to celebrate the legend, Doc Neeson. We look forward to rockin’ with you again next year. Yes folks, it has been booked!
Backstreet Pick Up – Mark
Take a Long Line – Suzy
Who Rings the Bell – Matt
After the Rain – Steve
No Secrets – Tony
Land of Illusion – Steve
Big Star – Matt
Be With You – Suzy
Working Class Hero – Mark
Face the Day – Steve
Lonely with You - Suzy
Hole in My Head – Suzy
No Money – Suzy
I Ain’t the One – Suzy
Last Time – Steve
Marseilles – Tony
Shadow Boxer – Mark
Get Out of This Place – Tony + all
Before you Accuse Me – All
Love Takes Care – Steve + All
Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again – Kieran Neeson + all
by Suzanne Bunker
Suzanne with Doc's son, Kieran Neeson