DocNeeson

Brothers Angels and Demons

Today I am inspired by a gig I attended on Saturday night: Brothers Angels and Demons.

It’s probably best I give you a little bit of background. I am a huge fan of the rock band The Angels. The first of their concerts I attended was in February 1981, the last time I saw them was in 2010.

Their lead singer was Doc Neeson. A charasmatic, mad Irishman who was the best front man ever (IMHO)! He left The Angels in 2010 to be replaced by singer Dave Gleeson, a singer I have never been a big fan of, hence why I haven’t seen the band in recent times. Sadly in 2014 Doc passed away after fighting brain cancer for 17 months.

The Angels were formed by Doc and the Brewster brothers, John and Rick. They had great chemistry on stage and wrote brilliant songs including this one.

 

John and Rick are the third generation of professional musicians in the Brewster family, however the first to play rock music! John’s son Sam is now a member of The Angels. So basically there are four generations of the family celebrating and enjoying music in the professional arena.

Because this band have always  inpsired me and given me much music pleasure I wanted to see this show. It has toured in Adelaide (their home town) and Sydney several times but only one other time to Melbourne. On that occassion I couldn’t attend. This time around I was determined not to miss the show.

Brothers Angels and Demons is the story of the Brewster family’s musical journey. With an MC to ask questions and prompt story telling, John and Rick share stories about their grandfather and father, about learning classical music and discovering Bob Dylan. Stories about writing songs with Doc, about nearly giving up on a music career and the highs of success. All of it very inspiring. They also share music.  The music includes a classical piece written by their grandfather, improvised music from their first professional band The Moonshine Jug and String Band, songs they co-wrote for The Angels and for their Brewster Brothers CD and songs that have inspired them.

Performing in this brilliant show with John and Rick are John’s three sons Sam, Tom and Harry. An inspirational show of a talented family who clearly not only enjoy music but appreciate what a great opportunity it has given them. If you are a fan of The Angels or simply Australian rock music, then see this show. It will inform. It will inspire. You will enjoy.

 

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Theatres of War Exhibition

Today I am inspired by The Theatres of War Exhibition currently  being held at the Victorian Arts Centre, StKilda Rd Melbourne.

 

The content of the exhibition is varied. Programs and posters of shows held in Australia to raise funds, clothing worn by people such as Kylie Mingoue, Doc Neeson, Patti Newton. Photos and letters telling stories of war and entertainment.

One thing that struck me in particular was a story the curator’s included with the program of the Vienna Mozart Boys Choir 1939. The choir had been touring Australia and were waiting in Fremantle, Western Australia to leave the country when War was announced. The choir master was interned in an internment camp and the boys were considered to be War Aliens. They were taken under the care of Catholic Archbishop Daniel Mannix and formed the nucleus of the St Patrick’s Cathedral choir in Melbourne. This story alone has inspired me to conduct some research to discover if the boys ever returned to Vienna.

Much of the content inspires the public to read about war history. The conditions back home and why entertainment was such a pivotal part of fundraising for the soldiers. The history of war zone entertainment. Which countries provided entertainment and how did this service start?

Finally I am inspired by the performers themselves, from opera singer  Dame Nellie Melba to pop sensation  Kylie Minogue. Rock star  Doc Neeson to comedians Hamish and Andy and many many more entertainers. These people provided their talent as a service during wartime but above all they basically risked their lives to enter war zones to bring some light relief and fun into the lives of the soldiers.  That’s inspirational.

We are all trying to get on

“It doesn’t matter who you are, we’re all trying to get on. Everyone in his own way from the day that we are born.”

These are the opening lyrics to The Angels song You’re  A Lady Now from their self titled debut album released in 1976. The song, in fact the album, is not in the style that The Angels are well known for but these opening lyrics are some of my favorite from this Australian Rock band.

The lyrics quoted here inspire me to sit up straight and proudly say “you know what it doesn’t matter who I am or who you are, what equalizes us is the desire and need to get on.”

No matter where you live,  how old you are or what your job is, we are all trying to get on with our lives. To fulfill our dreams, to stay healthy, safe and sane.

 

 

I wish the official promotional film clip was available on youtube!

VALE DOC NEESON

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On June 4th 2014 the world lost a rock legend. I lost my idol, an inspiration. That man was Doc Neeson.

Doc was born Bernard Patrick Neeson on January 4th 1947 in Belfast Ireland. He migrated to Australia with his parents, 4 brothers and a sister, in 1960.

As the frontman/lead singer of Australian rock band The Angels he was dramatic, charismatic, crazy, energetic, unpredictable and captivating. His lyrics were poetic, mysterious, engaging, sometimes dark but most of all inspiring.  I wanted to write like him!

I honestly cannot tell you how many times I saw him perform. The first time was at the Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne supporting AC/DC in February 1981. The last time was at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney at Rock for Doc, a benefit concert to raise money for his treatment, in April 2013.  At each concert he inspired but more so at Rock for Doc. His speech of gratitude and determination was a tear jerker.  The closing song of Love Takes Care was beautiful and with the whole audience singing along with him, you could feel nothing but love and admiration from those on the stage and those off. We all believed he was giving all his strength and will power to fight the brain cancer and he did, but sadly the cancer won the battle just over 12 months after the concert.

I had the pleasure of meeting Doc a few times but each time was brief , just enough time to get an autograph and/or photo. But each time he was a gentleman, happy to pose for a photo, happy to give an autograph. For that I am grateful.

My favorite songs are Be With You, My Light Will Shine, Take A Long Line, the acoustic version of Marseilles and Blind Faith. The last was recorded by his band Red Phoenix whilst on a break from The Angels in the mid 2000’s.

Doc you will continue to inspire me and others. Your energy, your creativity and determination will not be forgotten.

R.I.P.