The Angels and the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Orchestra have performed the show originally set for November 2022 on Friday 23 June 2023.
This show continues an incredible legacy for The Angels co-founders John and Rick Brewster. The Overture in Act One is based on a composition by their grandfather, composer Hooper Brewster-Jones. Hooper studied at Adelaide’s Elder Conservatorium of Music from 1901 before being awarded a scholarship to continue his studies at the Royal College of Music in London. When he returned to Adelaide he composed operas and at one stage was the conductor for South Australia’s ABC studio orchestra. Hooper’s father was a music teacher, his son conducted the Adelaide Stringster Orchestra and his grandsons started The Angels. John’s son’s Sam and soon Tom will continue the legacy of The Angels as a new second set of Brewster Brothers in The Angels, together with their father and uncle John and Rick, the founding Brewster Brothers.
Melbourne was last treated to a Symphony of Angels show in 2019. The 2023 edition has some minor changes with ‘Love Takes Care’ from the original season replaced with a Brewster Brothers 2006 song ‘Do It Again’ opening act two. ‘Marseilles’ closed the show this time. It was flipped from the second act onto the encore with ‘Am I Ever Gonna See You Face Again’. (And yes the chant was there but not only that, one of the choir proudly displayed his “no way get fucked, fuck off” t-shirt to add to the atmosphere).
The new addition ‘Do It Again’ was once again scored by conductor Rob John who scored the original show and also conducted the orchestra and choir for the night. Rob was the evening’s “juggler”. He had his work cut out for him as the driver of the orchestra and choir and balancing act for the rock band. This was a big show. There were a lot of people on stage in the orchestra, choir and band. With all those moving parts something was bound to go wrong …and it didn’t. Put that down to the coordination of Rob with The Angels drummer Nick Norton whose job it was to keep the band in time. The night was perfect. The rock band was in synch with the orchestra and the 20 something choir just added to the atmosphere to make The Angels … well, angelic.
It is not surprising that rock and classical music merge so well together. Both have power, both have passion. The orchestra creates padding around the guitar, bass and drums and brings a new dimension to the rock anthems.
The setlist covered almost all of the big hits from the Face To Face/No Exit/Dark Room and ‘Night Attack’ era. Only ‘Coming Down’ is absent from that roll call. Not all rock songs translate to an orchestra. I was surprised ‘Coming Down’ was the only obvious omission. What the orchestra does do is make it possible to bring back less obvious songs like ‘Dawn Is Breaking’ from ‘No Exit’ and ‘My Light Will Shine’ (the last album with Doc Neeson and first with John back in the band after a three album absence), from 1998’s ‘Skin and Bone’. Those two 2006 Brewster Brothers songs also showcased the diversity of the John and Rick’s catalogue in and out of The Angels.
The show on Friday night was also the last Melbourne performance with Dave Gleeson as The Angels lead singer. Dave is concentrating the rest of the year on his own band The Screaming Jets, before performing in supergroup The Fabulous Caprettos in January 2024.
Symphony of Angels setlist, 23 June 2023, Melbourne
Overture (Orchestra Only)
After the Rain (from Face To Face, 1978)
Straight Jacket (from Face To Face, 1978)
After Dark (from No Exit, 1979)
No Exit (from No Exit, 1979)
Outcast (from Face To Face, 1978)
Face the Day (from Dark Room, 1980)
Take a Long Line (from Face To Face, 1978)
Do It Again (from Brewster Brothers, Shadows Fall, 2006)
Be With You (from Face To Face, 1978)
Dawn Is Breaking (from No Exit, 1979)
No Secrets (from Dark Room, 1980)
Shadow Boxer (from No Exit, 1979)
My Light Will Shine (from Skin and Bone, 1998)
Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again (from The Angels, 1977)
Mr Damage (from No Exit, 1979)
Fashion and Fame (from Night Attack, 1981)
Blue Blood (from Brewster Brothers, Shadows Fall, 2006)
Marseilles (from Face To Face, 1978)
There is one more Symphony of Angels show 30 June in Adelaide then four more shows with Dave Gleeson before Nick Norton steps away from the drums to become the new lead singer and new Brewster Tom joins his brother Sam to create the next generation Brewster Brothers.
Upcoming dates for The Angels are:
Friday 30th June – Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide
Plus Four Extra Festival Shows Featuring Dave Gleeson
Wed 5th Jul – Big Red Bash
Fri 11th Aug – Mt Isa Rodeo
Fri 18th Aug – Mundi Mundi Bash
Sun 27th Aug – Gympie Muster
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