The Angels with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra
Adelaide Showgrounds Saturday 3 December 2021
Words – Geoff Jenke
Photos – Robert McArthur
At a stage towards the end of the show, vocalist Dave Gleeson announced “It’s awesome to be back playing in front of a live audience”. By the response from the audience, it was awesome for people to be able at attend large scale concerts in Adelaide again.
The Festival of Orchestra (FOFO) showcased the incredible talents and versatility of the ASO over six performances, including an evening of classics, Broadway, dance anthems with Groove Terminator and this show with Adelaide legends, The Angels.
The Orchestral arrangements were scored by Rob John, who has worked as a concert master for the likes of Elton John and Natalie Cole, and award-winning composer Jamie Messenger. Rick and John Brewster from The Angels, grew up surrounded by classical music – their late grandfather, Hooper, was a concert pianist and composer, and founder of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. Their father, Arthur, was principal cellist and, at times, conductor of the ASO, so it was inevitable that their family lineage would wield its influence from afar.
The orchestra commenced the evening with, I believe, a piece simply called Overture, a tune written by the Brewster’s Grandfather, Hooper, way back early last century. The band then walked on stage, Dave in a tuxedo, sans tie, to launch into After the Rain, Straightjacket and No Exit, the orchestra adding an extra depth to the songs. Dave was also extremely animated during the songs, perhaps putting his little bit of Doc Neeson into the evening. Skid Row was the first song to show everyone, it wasn’t necessarily just the hits that made the band great, but that they had great album tracks as well. Face the Day gave us a guitar solo, or should that be a guitar duo from Rick and John Brewster before closing out the first half with Take a Long Line.
At this stage I was enjoying the show, but it hadn’t won me over.
John & Rick started the second half by themselves, singing and playing guitars on the song Love Takes Care from the Face to Face album and dedicating it to Doc Neeson and one time bass player Chris Bailey. Be With You was next and the band and orchestra were joined by a choir, adding even more depth and feeling to the music.
Dawn in Breaking followed and this song could have been written with orchestra in mind. With plenty of red lighting, this was the highlight of the evening. No Secrets, Shadow Boxer and Marseilles had some of the audience standing up and dancing, only to be told by security to sit down. Shame really as people just wanted to enjoy themselves but it was not the venue’s fault, these are the rules in this current times.
Again, another highlight was a track that was not a hit. My Life Will Shine beautifully complimented orchestra and band (and choir). Mr Damage, a furious Fashion & Fame followed before the choir got to shine, leading into Blue Blood, a song originally penned for the Brewster Brothers album, Shadows Fall.
Then to finish, a song that according to Dave “Corrupted the choir”, Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again with the audience willingly participating in the “added lines” to the song.
Overall, I was extremely impressed with the band and orchestra. The Angels songs lent themselves to be interpreted by the Orchestra and choir, something “back in the day” of seeing the band at The Bridgeway I would never have expected I would be watching in 2021. While they “had” to play the hits for the audience, it was the album tracks that impressed the most.
It was a special night for band and orchestra, but even more so for the audience. And for me.
And to finish up, since it is Christmas, why not another video clip of “My Light Will Shine”: