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Anchor 16

The Angels "50 years in the making"

Friday 9th February, 2024 The Bridge Hotel Rozelle

Doc was Doc, Dave was Dave, Nick is Nick.


The Angels have shaped my life sonically for the past 45 years. At age 16 in 1979, I ventured into a nightclub for the 1st time and witnessed the “No exit tour” with Doc out front as the ultimate showman. I have loved the Angels ever since.


Over the years, I have attended hundreds and hundreds of Angels shows and met Doc, Dave and Nick many times. They have always been extremely kind to me and afforded me the utmost courtesy on every occasion. Attending an Angels show is like a reunion of sorts. Familiar faces in the crowd, friends and family all come together to celebrate the music that is the Angels. The thread that weaves us together, and our common bond.


It’s all about the songs.


The Angels were blessed to have Dave Gleeson join the band in 2012 as the lead vocalist, and together with Nick Norton on drums, they released the album “Take it to the streets” with Nick contributing as a co-songwriter with John and Rick Brewster on 4 of the tracks, “To the streets”, “Getting Free”, “Some kinda hell in here" and “Free bird”. As well as being the drummer for the band, Nick played the guitar solo on Free Bird. Over the next 11 years, Dave Gleeson gave the band a new lease on life and his live shows were legendary. His love for “Kevin Rudd and “Kim Kardashian” was well known, and his quick wit and sense of humour was second to none. Dave was an entertainer, and like Doc, a consummate showman.   


Fast forward to 2024, The Angels now have Nick Norton at the helm with Tom Brewster on drums. On reflection, as the Angels enter their twilight years, this makes perfect sense. Nick is an accomplished guitarist and musician and wrote 3 further tracks on the 'Talk the Talk’ album in 2014 including a co-write with John Brewster on the outstanding song “Every Man”. Nick is an intrinsic integral part of the Angels fabric, and can really play guitar.


Comparisons are inevitable, but I am interested tonight in what Nick brings to the table, and in the absence of John Brewster (as he recovers), he will be front and centre both as a vocalist and guitarist.


The lights dim and “City out of control” blasts out of the PA. It’s loud, it’s dark and it sounds like the Angels. Rick Brewster’s signature guitar sound fills the room. The acoustics in the Bridge Hotel are awesome, and one of the reasons that the Angels have recorded 3 live albums here. It sounds great. “Who rings the bell” and “No exit” follow with Nick punching out the songs. No banter or welcoming words, just a concentrated delivery on a good live performance. Even though John is missing, the band is tight. Tom and Sam are having a great night and Rick Brewster playing keyboards on “Out of the Blue” is a welcome addition to the sound. “Shadow Boxer” is next. The crowd is warming up. Polite applause permeates the first few songs but now a few heads are bobbing. Some are warming to the new singer.


“Shoot it up” is perfectly placed in the set list. Like an instant shot of adrenaline, this crowd is up for a good time. Raised cans of ‘Jack’ in one hand and fist pumping with the other, more than a few are now getting into it, and as the opening bars of “Comin’ down” fill the room, Nick has got control of this crowd. His “poor brother chant” comes back to him with interest and many are now loudly singing along.


A dad and his teenage daughter stand next to me. She’s digging it with a broad smile on her face. Maybe it’s her first Angels show, I think to myself. Dad is clearly loving this moment. As I look back across, she screaming the words “She keeps no secrets” back to Nick Norton in full voice in unison with her Dad and others have found their voices too. The Angels have a new fan.


Rick is back on keys for “Wasted Sleepless nights”, which gives the song a new ambience, before “Let the night Roll On” thunders out of the speaker stack. This is an Angels show. Rick and Nick straddled side by side with dueling guitars trading blows note by note to the adoring faithful who are now totally engaged. As the crowd chant “Let the night Roll On” the noise is deafening. Lots of leaping around, fist pumps and all in all a great time had by many and that is just set one. Pretty good so far, I think to myself.       


For an incarnation of a band, it can be interesting to see if there is still the public interest. Booking a Friday and Saturday double header at the Bridge tells me that there is. The bridge holds 350 people inside the auditorium and tonight’s show is only 20 tickets shy of a sellout with Saturday night already sold out. The question now is, does Nick deliver. The crowd response so far tells me that he does.


Set two jumps right back into the high adrenaline tunes with “We gotta get out of this place” and “After the rain” with Rick back on keyboards. I am really enjoying the variation of songs in the set list, and “Move On” from Skin and Bone is an Angels long forgotten treasure. It is wonderful to hear that song again. The crowds response to “Am I ever gonna see your face again” is as good as any show that I have been to and the hits just keep coming.


“Face the Day” sees Nick take full control on guitar for a solid minute while Rick plays keys. He is an accomplished guitarist and the Angels function seamlessly as a 4 piece band. “Dogs are talking” and “Take a long line” are crowd favorites. Sam plays an exhilarating bass lead in “I just wanna be with you” and Tom’s drumming has been first class all night.


I look around as the opening notes of “Marseilles” ring out. There is a lot of love in the room at this point. Big burly guys arms wrapped around each other having a great time on a Friday night. A lot of applause ensues, and as the band sing happy birthday to Nick, I think to myself that he has had a great day. Another cracking bass solo by Sam in “Can’t Shake it” rounds off a top night of entertainment.


As it turns out, the girl standing next to me (Jackie, 20 years) was attending her first Angels show and had bought tickets for her Dad (Tony) for Xmas. I ask her if she would like to meet the band and as we march up the stairs after the show I am excited that the Angels are gathering new fans all the time. Rick gives her and her Dad a big hug and Tony comments “This has been the greatest Xmas present ever”. You can’t ask for more than that.


It’s all about the songs.


Looking forward to seeing John Brewster back with the boys for the Red Hot Summer Tour in March 2024.




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