The Angels’ 1978 Face To Face album was a game-changer for not only the band but for the Australian music scene as it propelled local acts to a level of stardom that filled pubs, theatres and auditoriums across the country.
It was a defining album and, Saturday night, the band hit the stage at Belmont 16s to celebrate its 40th anniversary. The show comprised two sets – the first for the band play Face To Face in its entirety, the second to be a collection of their other hits from other albums.
The show is sold out so the room is packed as the lights dim and the band make their way to the stage to cheers and whistles. Screaming Jets front man Dave Gleeson, standing in for Doc Neeson these days, enters from stage left with a knowing, cheeky grin. Tonight is going to be FUN!
Opening with ‘Straightjacket’, the familiar Brewster brothers’ (Rick and John) guitar “chink-chink” sound is met with a roar and stamps the gig as undeniably The Angels. Then it’s ‘After The Rain’ and Gleeson prowls the stage and teases the audience, urging them to take the journey with him to rock and roll party heaven.
‘Love Takes Care’ follows before the time-honoured call-to-arms of “This is it folks, over the top” introduces ‘Take A Long Line’, the album’s major breakout hit. Then the extraordinary, anthemic ‘Marseilles’ takes off and, like Guns & Roses and the thousands around the world who love this song, the audience move as one. Rick Brewster’s lead hits the high and Gleeson builds the crowd to fever pitch.
‘Live It Up’ is next before the stage glows in a subdued blue and the band take us through the ballad ‘Be With You’, one of The Angels’ many live favourites. ‘Outcast’ follows and then, just to remind us what a strong, amazing album Face To Face is, the band launch into ‘I Ain’t The One’ and ‘Comin’ Down’, the album’s final two tracks and again huge live favourites.
While not on the original release, the band close the first set with ‘Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again’. The roar is deafening and the audience blast off into some stratosphere that came from 40 years ago, when a generation of teenagers found their freedom in hot, sweaty crowds listening to great Australian rock just like this. Tonight is a chance to re-live that time and with every chorus comes the refrain “No way, get . . . . . “, a rite of passage for everyone in the room. As the chant dies down and the band exit the stage, the rest of us prepare for part two.
The second set is for The Angels’ other hits and, after a couple of newer songs, they deliver ‘No Secrets’ from 1980’s Dark Room album and ‘Mr Damage’ from 1979’s No Exit, followed by a powerful and moving version of ‘My Light Will Shine’ from the Skin & Bone album. If nothing else, this song will educate those Angels fans who only bought the big albums and have yet to discover the delights hidden in the rest of their catalogue.
‘Fashion & Fame’ from 1981’s Night Attack album and ‘Face The Day’ from Dark Room are next and Gleeson, his shirt wet with perspiration leers and postures as the audience watch his every move.
Then it’s leap forward to 1990 and ‘Let The Night Roll On’, a semi-classic from Beyond Salvation before the band heads back to their 3rd album for ‘Shadow Boxer’ and a great version of its title track ‘No Exit’.
They leave the stage but it is only seconds before the chant of “Angels Angels” fills the room. Exhausted as they are, the audience want more.
For the two-song encore, the band surprises. They begin ‘Blue Blood’, not an Angels’ track but one from the Brewster Brothers own album Shadows Fall. For some, this is the first time they may have heard the song and it may be that the brothers get a few extra downloads and streams over coming days. For those who know the song, tonight was special, a take on the song with Gleeson’s vocal giving it a different yet touching treatment.
Throughout the night the sound was full and loud and the light show throughout was stunning. It could be a lesson to other acts from the era who continue to tour but cut costs and present little production in a show – but this wasn’t just a band on stage playing. This was a concert and a damn good one.
‘Can’t Shake It’ from No Exit is the final song of the night and the crowd sing every chorus with gusto. Dave Gleeson, Rick and John Brewster, son Sam Brewster and drummer Nick Norton stand in a line stage front and bow as one before leaving.
Many in the audience just stood still for a moment as the house lights illuminated the room, seemingly taking a breath and taking in what was just witnessed. Forty years is a long time but for the Face To Face album, the band that created it and the audience, tonight just proved that the music is timeless.
Photos courtesy of Gary Tapper and Nikki Taylor