After 20 years (2 years in the case of Skin who’ve broken up and reformed more times than a 4 year old’s scabby knee), the Little Angels announced earlier this year that they were going to play Download. They enjoyed it so much that they decided to do a British tour. And about bloody time.
In the intervening years, the band have found themselves as individuals involved elsewhere in the music industry (teaching music, performing as a solo act, fronting other bands, managing Boyzone and Ronan Keating – seriously). Today, perhaps only for a brief few weeks, they’re back together as a group. Well, except for Mark Richardson who’s now a full time member of Skunk Anansie.
First up, though, were Skin. Fronted by Welshman Neville MacDonald, it would come as no surprise given the surname to find out that his great grandfather was from Glasgow. Back in the day, I was never a fan mainly due to the “ooh baby baby” style of their early lyrics. In fairness, this was predominantly due to their first “big” single, “Look But Don’t Touch” (come on – look at the number of “baby”s in this baby) which was just a touch too mainstream for me.
Move on to the next couple of albums and some great tracks started to appear, all played this evening – “How Lucky You Are”, “Perfect Day” and so forth. They put on a decent performance in the face of some of the worst sound I’ve ever heard at the ABC, which was a shame. The bass was virtually impossible to hear and the sound was topping out to the point of distortion. Not good.
Despite this, a good number of the crowd went quite mental and the band left having warmed a lot of us up. Still a bit “middle of the road” for my tastes, but decent enough.
However, the vast majority of the crowd were here to see Toby Jepson and the boys making a comeback 19 years to the day the last time they played in Glasgow (at the Barrowlands, that time). I didn’t go to that gig, but I did go to the three which followed – Leeds T&C, Nottingham Rock City and a sold out Royal Albert Hall in London. I hitched round all three. Quite the adventure for me at the time. In fact, I was wearing the shirt I bought in Nottingham for the concert tonight. Glow in the dark rocks!
The set list was wonderfully familiar. Opening with “She’s A Little Angel”, the band moved through the likes of “Back Door Man” (with Toby giggling at the “key in your backdoor” lyrics which probably didn’t sound quite so filthy to a younger me), “Boneyard”, “Kicking Up Dust”, “Kick Hard”…
In honesty, it took them a few tracks to really get into their stride. What really turned the tables was their superb live version of “Don’t Prey For Me” which was dedicated to original drummer Michael Lee who died in 2008. The hairs, in all complete honesty, were standing up on my neck and arms with that one. From then on, the show only got better.
“Soapbox”, “Too Much Too Young”, “Young Gods”, a rousing cover of Bryan Adams’ “Kids Wanna Rock” (they opened for him during a summer tour some years ago), “I Ain’t Gonna Cry”… very little time was spent talking to the crowd. Just enough to make sure they knew they were appreciated, and let’s be honest – buying a ticket for a band who’ve not toured in 20 years is always going to be a bit of a gamble.
The Angels more than pulled it off. The sound quality improved as the set went on after a shonky start, and it’s a shame that Jimmy was stuck at the back where he could hardly be seen because of the stage smoke. But they’re minor quibbles which did nothing to detract from a very enjoyable 75 minutes or so.
Not as good as I remember from their hey-day, but both they and I were younger back then! Still good value for money, some cracking tunes and a great atmosphere. I’ve not seen so many oldies jumping around since that time I let a nest of scorpions loose in the nursing home for shits and giggles.