The Angels

Publication: The Western Weekender

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Musical miracle: The Angels clock up 40 years

Guitarist and original band member John Brewster dispels some of the myths surrounding the band, reflects on the contributions made by Doc Neeson and explains why rock is such a great genre…


There aren’t many bands that make it to 40 years, even fewer that make it despite the challenges of line-up changes and band reincarnations.


But that’s exactly where The Angels are now; standing in the present, looking back on a career that hasn’t always been smooth sailing, but has resulted in some of the most well known Aussie songs of all time. After the recent death of original frontman Doc Neeson, guitarist and original member, John Brewster, is reflective on the role that Doc played within the music scene.


“I’ll remember Doc as being one of the greatest frontmen that, in my opinion and many others, Australia’s ever known. He was just incredible, an incredible front- man,” he said.


The current Angels line-up is a mix of original members and newer members including singer Dave Gleeson, of the Screaming Jets, who joined the band in 2011.


In May this year The Angels started their 40th anniversary tour, and are celebrating the occasion with two new three-CD collections packed full of hits; ‘Volume 1 – 40 Greatest STUDIO Hits’ and ‘Volume 2 – 40 Greatest LIVE Hits’.


“It celebrates everyone that’s ever played in the band. Everybody’s represented and that actually totals 13 people, believe it or not, over the years,” Brewster said.


There has been a lot of talk in the press about the band and their relationships, but Brewster is keen to set the record straight, especially when it comes to Doc.


“People say we’d been fighting, I don’t agree with that, we had differences of opinion, but that’s about it.”


It would be easy after four decades in the industry for The Angels to rest on the success of their extensive back catalogue, including hits ‘Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again’ and ‘No Secrets’.


Instead the band remains focused on creating new material. Their most recent album ‘Talk The Talk’, which was released earlier this year, is one that Brewster is particularly proud of.


“To me it’s one of the greatest records we’ve ever made,” he said.


“Not every album has turned out how we hoped it would and it’s a real let down. You get to the end of it and go ‘aww, ok, that one didn’t quite make it’. We’ve had that experience.


“I can’t say that everything we’ve ever done is brilliant. I think there are flashes of brilliance throughout everything we’ve done in a way, but when you actually sit down and an album evolves so naturally as the last two have, and they turn out so well, it’s an incredibly uplifting feeling.”

And at this stage in their evolution, The Angels are very much a tight knit team, especially when it comes to the new material.


“Everybody in this band has contributed from a song writing point of view,” Brew- ster said.


“Dave Gleeson’s been with the band for three years, we love him, he’s a great guy, he’s a great singer and we discovered that he’s actually very creative. He didn’t write that much with the Screaming Jets, but we gave him some rhythm tracks and he came back a week later with five songs, four of which, I think, are on the album.”


After being in a band for so long Brewster has witnessed many changes to the indus- try, some good – like the invent of social media to help musicians promote their work; and some not so good – like major changes to the live scene that have made things harder for up and coming acts.


“As far as young bands putting their band together and trying to make it in this country these days I feel pretty distressed for them because, it’s never been easy, but you had the opportunities to expose what you do in my day, in the 70’s it was just incredible,” he said.

“I mean we opened up, we and others, opened up a whole scene that was just going through the roof. You could play gigs on a Monday night and put 1,500 people in the room.”


The Angels sure have filled some rooms over the years and with their extensive touring history have earned a reputation as one of Australia’s hardest working bands.


Their current 40th Anniversary tour will be on the road until mid August and Brewster admits he is happy to see that their audience is a diverse one.


“We get a hell of a lot of young people coming to our shows so it’s not like we just play to our own age group,” he said.


“It’s our repertoire, the songs that we wrote over the years, so many of them are still very major to the audiences, I don’t think they’ve dated, they still sound fresh.


“I think that’s one great thing about rock n’ roll as a style of music. I think [with] rock n’ roll, if you write a great rock song it will last forever.”


The Angels will be performing at Evan Theatre on Friday, July 25 at 8pm. Tickets are $41.50. For bookings or more information on the show, call 1800 061 991 or visit


Photo: Craig Peihopa

Article published in the Friday, June 27 2014 edition of The Western Weekender