After 41 years of performing as The Angels, the legendary rockers have come up with a way to showcase the A-Z of their music in a tour aptly titled the ‘A-Z Tour’. The title comes from the fact that the band has dug out 26 of their tracks (one for each letter of the alphabet) and will be playing them back to back. Founding member Rick Brewster and Music Editor Dazz Hassan had a chat about the tour and what’s kept The Angels going so strong for over 40 years. For The Angels, it has become a Brewster family affair, with John Brewster’s sons often lending a hand with the music.
The idea for the A-Z tour, Brewster says, came from their Agent Johnny Grace, who thought their repertoire was sufficient enough to warrant the tour and has wanted to do it for some time. “Johnny presented it to us, and like fools we said yes! (laughs). Then came the task of putting the songs together. There’s a few letters that we don’t have songs for, and some with a few, so we had to make a choice. ‘Q’, for example, we turn over to the audience as ‘Question time’.”
The Brewster’s music pedigree descends from their cellist father, who became the Musical Director of the ABC in its past form. ”His father (my grandfather), was a pianist, organist, conductor, for want of a better word a child prodigy, so I guess it’s his genes that have flowed down through the family.” Having seen all the Brewster’s in action on stage, it’s hard to disagree with. Sam Brewster was hand chosen by the late former bassist Chris Bailey as his replacement, which is possibly the best endorsement for any upcoming player and further lens weight to the musical brilliance in the family. Rick’s young sons are also showing musical promise, so the Brewster/Angels legacy is in safe hands.
With Doc Neeson gone, Dave Gleeson was the best possible choice to keep the flame going. He’s a great singer, a dynamic frontman, and a bloody nice bloke! Brewster agrees, and always had him in the back of his mind should The Angels ever need a new singer. “We were touring with the Screaming Jets about 20 years ago, and I remember watching him on stage during that tour thinking he was a fantastic frontman & if anything ever happened to Doc, I’d be approaching Dave. The timing was perfect for him to join the band, as the Screaming Jets had been quiet for about 3 years, and of course we wouldn’t have poached him if they were working. He was very quick to jump in and say yes. He knew the whole repertoire too!” One would have to agree that he’s the perfect choice, and having seen them perform with ‘Gleeso’ out front they’ll be around a hell of a lot longer yet! Other bands have continued on succeeding with replacement singers, so why shouldn’t The Angels?
Both Gleeson and Brewster come from a generation of bands who did it the hard way, playing live and earning their stripes through tough times on the road. Brewster yearns for the old days of pub rock, largely decimated by pokie venues, greedy publicans, and narrow minded councils who shut venues down when well-heeled plebs move into the neighbourhood and have the places shut down through noise complaints. “There’s nothing like that instant feedback from the audience, it’s honest and sometimes brutal. You can put out a record that you think is great, and get no feedback at all but an audience will tell you if it’s decent or crap. Everyone from my generation learned their craft in front of people.” And if The Angels weren’t such a predominant figure in the live music scene, we would most likely never have the infamous ‘alternate chorus’ to Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again? (we all know it-No Way, Get F*ed, F* Off!) “Here’s a funny thing about that song, we played it to a large crowd on the banks of the Mississippi River in Memphis USA, and there were pockets of Australians in the crowd that stood up and screamed it out. By the end of the song most of the audience were on their feet singing it as well.” It’s truly an iconic Australian thing that has stood the test of time, and should probably be on our Citizenship test!
I speak with Brewster about why the Angels are still around when so many other bands have quit and disbanded over the years, and what’s kept them going so long. “It’s mostly that we can make a living from it, we’re one of the few that can do it full time but the main thing is that we absolutely love it. John and I were both determined to keep it going, and if it meant replacing members then so be it because we’ve always maintained the ethos that it’s the songs that are bigger than the band! It’s so far proven true- people want to hear the songs. When we were writing with Doc, we agreed that our songs should remain timeless and relevant in 40 years time.”
And they’ve achieved just that- timelessness and longevity. Here’s hoping that The Angels will still be playing for as long as they possibly can and should they ever consider quitting as a band, we all know what the response to that should be- No Way, Get F*ed, F* Off!
By Darren Hassan
Friday 8th May The Gov Adelaide www.thegov.com.au
Saturday 9th May The Gov Adelaide www.thegov.com.au
More A-Z Tour Dates/other states