Billed as the They Who Rock Tour, the double act of Baby Animals and The Angels at CBD Live in Southport was a reunion of two of Australia’s best and most enduring rock outfits.
Baby Animals kicked off the night with fan favourite ‘Rush You’, followed quickly ‘One Word’ and ‘Painless’. Suze DeMarchi’s distinctive vocals and compelling stage swagger took everyone on a trip back to the 90s, adding her throaty little chuckle after the sound dropped out briefly following ‘One Too Many’: “Sorry everyone, shit happens!” It ended up being a great opportunity for Suze and lead guitarist to have an impromptu jam session, anyway. Total pros.
Finishing with ‘Early Warning’ and ‘Ain’t Gonna Get’, Baby Animals drew rousing cheers and applause after each song, giving yet another example of just why they have been a mainstay in the Australian rock scene for three decades.
The Angels took to the stage, with the first crowd sing-along roaring to life in ‘After the Rain’. Hit after hit followed with ‘No Secrets’, ‘Shadow Boxer’, ‘Take a Long Line’ and ‘Marseilles’ still sounding as fresh and impactful as when they were first released.
Although somewhat more subdued than we are used to seeing in his role as vocalist for Screaming Jets, Dave Gleeson made songs that were written before his tenure in the band his own and took ownership of them as only Dave Gleeson could. Pausing to pay homage to Doc Neeson by vowing to “keep the music alive, I’m honoured to be performing these songs”, Gleeson shone in the spotlight at the appropriate times, but also faded into the background when required.
Rick and brother John (rhythm guitar) arguably form the tightest double guitar partnership in Australian music, almost telepathically working with and off each other to mesmerising effect. The guitar play between the two in closing out ‘Comin’ Down’ was infectious, with sections of the crowd left staring in wonderment at the undeniable talent on display.
After coming back for the inevitable encore, The Angels sprung their first surprise of the night with Rick and John walking out alone and taking centre stage. John stepped up to the microphone and with a softening of his voice addressed the crowd “Rick and me are gonna do a significant song that Doc and I wrote in 1977 and we want to dedicate it to the late, great Doc Neeson, the late and great Chris Bailey, Stuart Fraser and Greedy Smith”, before launching into an emotional rendition of ‘Love Takes Care’.
Finishing with ‘Can’t Shake It’, The Angels paid tribute to their future as well, introducing drummer Nick Norton and John’s son Sam Brewster on bass, each of them afforded a finishing solo to complete the circle.
It has always been in the live arena that The Angels have excelled and after 45 years they show no signs of taking their foot off the pedal. They are a tight, polished unit whose strength lies in the sum of all of its parts and remain as relevant to today’s music as when they released debut single ‘Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again’.
The Angels set out on the road with Boom Crash Opera next year, as well as a string of dates on the Red Hot Summer Tour, so if you missed them this time around make sure you make a date with them in the coming months.
Images (C) Simone Gorman-Clark