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#218 Little Angels @ Bristol O2 Academy (December 15th 2012)

Support: Skin / Chrome Molly

This is a little long...more of a story than a review...have patience though as you may like it...or not. Ok so here’s the thing...

-          In July 1994 three twenty year old lads go to see a band they love at London’s Royal Albert Hall

-          It happens to be the band’s last ever gig

-          It is quite simply brilliant

-          I had dreams of being a rock star***

-          Band twiddles their thumbs for eighteen years

-          Until that is June 8th this year when they reform for ‘Download’

-          Now they are back on the road for the ‘One More For The Road Tour’

-        The three lads now aged, a not so sprightly, 38 (hell one might even admit to being 39) decide to relive their youth and go see if the Angels still have what it takes to perform live

Little Angels - Bristol O2 Academy December 15th 2012

Ok so the bit about the band twiddling their thumbs for eighteen years is not strictly true. In fact one continued in the music biz via a bit of acting, one is a the managing director of a music school in Brighton, one is a music teacher in Scarborough, one plays for Skunk Anansie, and one manages Ronan Keating…So why get back together? Well it was while attending the funeral of former drummer, Michael Lee (Lee tragically died in 2008 from an epileptic seizure) that they first thought of going back on the road. I’m delighted they did but sad that it was in such circumstances.

So it was agreed that we would meet up in Bristol for the penultimate night of the band’s tour. Why Bristol? Well as one (me) lives in Dublin, another (Keith) in Swansea and the other (Andy) in Cheshire it was felt that it was doable for all of us. Plus it was on a Saturday night meaning we didn’t have to venture out on a school night and risk missing out on our much needed 10 hours sleep.

As you may know if you are a constant reader I go to a lot of gigs. At least it’s a lot of gigs my most people’s standards. 220 in 23 years would be considered a sizeable amount for most (yes not you @musicscramble fast approaching your 1000th) and in comparison to my two friends then well I live my life at music venues. You see they have maybe gone to a handful of gigs between them in the last fifteen years. That isn’t a criticism it’s just the way their lives have gone. They have a couple of kids each, have been married for eleven and thirteen years and basically grew up years ago whereas as I couldn’t possible imagine becoming a father (thankfully I have a wife of two years who cringes at the thought of giving birth). I may grow up one day but not just yet. Actually it is Andy’s, or at least his father’s fault that I go to so many gigs. He persuaded my parents to allow me to go to see the Stones at Wembley back in 1990 which in turn allowed me to book tickets for Bon Jovi which would become my first concert in December 1989 (both the Stones and Bon Jovi were booked around the same time). Ok I’m rambling now.

So what of the gig? Two support bands tonight. Chrome Molly were first up and although I know very little about them they certainly impressed with a great sound. The second support band was Skin. In truth Skin were more than just a support band as they played for 55 minutes and had a big following at the gig. I hadn’t seen them since the early nineties when they toured with the Little Angels. I liked them then and I loved them tonight. I always remember the lead singer (Neville MacDonald) having a great voice. Nothing has changed as he still has a powerful set of lungs and with songs such as Tower Of Strength, Money and Look But Don’t Touch in their armoury they are a band that will always entertain.

So Skin were a great warm up act…not that the crowd tonight needed warming up though. There was a house full of people who had waited a long time for a Little Angels reunion and as a result there was a lot of good will. The atmosphere in the O2 Academy was pretty damn great.

For me this show will go down as one of the best. Sometimes I look back at reviews I have written and think I say every single one is great. Hey I’m an optimistic kinda guy when it comes to music (quite the opposite in other aspects of life) but I truly, 100%, can say that this show was fantatsic. Why so good?

-          There a few bands that can do no wrong for me. I genuinely get so excited about seeing them live. The Little Angels are one of those

-          Every song I know inside out and so for me there are zero low points in the set

-          They possess a singer who has an extraordinary rock voice

-          They are a band of great musicians backed up by a horn section making for a cracking live sound

Highlights? Honestly every song was a highlight. I know them so well and they all seem like my babies, however I get the feeling that the majority of people in the room (in my estimation 90% were blokes aged between 35 and 50 wearing black t-shirts and jeans…oh how I love rock concerts) felt the same. It’s one hell of a cliché but the hairs were standing so high on the back of my neck when I heard the opening bars to She’s A Little Angel that for minute I forgot I was a bald 39 year old bloke and just started jumping. Alas not many others were in a jumping mood and the age profile started to show. I settled for raising my hands at any opportunity I could…to the annoyance of the people behind me.

I realise if you don’t know this band then you won’t know the awesomeness of songs such as She’s A Little Angel, Kickin’ Up Dust, Back Door Man, Boneyard, Radical Your Lover, Don’t Pray For Me, Womankind, I Was Not Wrong, Soapbox, Too Much Too Young, The Way That I Live, I Ain’t Gonna Cry, That’s My Kinda Life and Young Gods but for once trust my judgement. They do a mean cover as well and tonight, as they used to do twenty years ago, they raced through Bryan Adams Kids Wanna Rock. Great stuff, however if I had to pick one stand out moment then it has to be Don’t Pray For Me (A wonderful song that should have been huge).

Any bad points you may ask….well just that I wanted more. Fifteen songs is great but I would have loved a few extra. Let’s face it in another life we would be getting twenty five songs sets from this band at stadiums around the country. They would not have been out of place in such venues. I still don’t understand why they didn’t take a break in 1994, get a bit of space from each other and have a rethink. Instead they bowed out when Seattle and grunge did for many bands back in the early nineties.

I’m pretty sure Andy and Keith loved it to. I hope it brought back as many great memories for them as it did for me. They seemed to be as sweaty as me afterwards anyway so I’ll take that as a good sign. I do know that they are out of practice when it comes to gig going. As we left the venue later they complained (whined) about the ringing in their ears, that they were hungry and that they needed some food. Also their singing has not improved one iota (Check out their accompaniment to Don’t Pray For Me).

So what now? As I bought a tour DVD and T-Shirt (The Little Angels always did great T-Shirts except for that bright yellow Jam one. That was horrible. I still bought it though) it struck me that this may have been something that they had to do. A way of exercising a few ghosts maybe? One last hurrah to get it out of their system? Maybe the title of the tour is a giveaway ‘One More For The Road’…hmmm I have a horrible feeling they will not be doing this again…I hope that isn’t the case. I missed these guys and I don’t want them to go away anytime soon. Give up the day jobs lads (yes that includes you Mark. Ronan can look after himself) and hit the road at least once a year…ok, ok once every two years. You know what…just promise me that this won’t be the last time. ‘Another One For The Road Tour’ maybe?

***I didn’t become a rock star

Ticket: December 15th 2012

Ticket Price: £18.50

Set Lists:

http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/little-angels/2012/o2-academy-bristol-bristol-england-6bda7292.html

http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/skin/2012/o2-academy-bristol-bristol-england-7bda7290.html

http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/chrome-molly/2012/o2-academy-bristol-bristol-england-63da7297.html