|Little Angels - Belfast, Limelight 2 - 9th December 2012|
|Written by Mark Ashby|
|Wednesday, 02 January 2013 03:00|
In common with every other city on this ‘One More From The Road’ tour, it had been nigh on 20 years since Little Angels had last played in Belfast – a fact which suddenly made me feel quite old at one stage, as I suddenly realised that my teenage daughter, standing beside me in the front row, wasn’t even an evil twinkle in a much younger eye on that occasion! Back then, Toby Jepson and co had been fairly regular visitors to this part of the world, I reckon tonight’s ‘return’ was the fifth occasion on which they had graced a Belfast stage, so time to catch up with some old friends, relive some good memories… and see if the ‘young gods’ are still worth worshipping?
It had been (quite) a while since I had last seen WorldsEnd, who had landed the opening slot on the first half of the tour, and won over many new fans on the mainland as a result, and this evening definitely was a case of absence making the heart grow fonder, as the progression which the band have made in the intervening period is almost astronomical.
Frontman Eddie Currie was relishing the big stage, pacing it with the ill-concealed fury of a caged panther, his passion for performing evident from the first chord of ‘One Last Breath’ to the majestic last note of ‘Inconspicuous Others’. Stage left, bassist Paul Boyd held his end together with an almost stoical aplomb, while drummer Alistair Campbell proved once again that his is one of the most proficient drummers around: my only complaint would be the slightly mooted sound on J’s lead guitar, which detracted from some of the intricacies of this most accomplished musician’s otherwise polished performance.
The problems with the guitar sound continued during Stormzone’s set: this time, they centred around the splitting of the channels. With Steve Moore standing stage left and "new recruit" Davy Shiels on the opposite side, their respective sounds were divided straight down the middle, without any panning between them, meaning that, depending where you were standing in the room, you could only hear one lead or the other – a real shame given the amount of interplay which goes on between the two axemen!
Frontman Harv also experienced some problems with his microphone, but (like the rest of the band), he’s the consummate professional, as the band delivered what can only be described as a killer set in front of their hometown crowd. Carefully hand picking tracks from their last two albums, they also blooded two new tunes – ‘Night Of The Storm’ (the title track of their soon to be recorded fourth full-lengther) and the impressively vitriolic ‘Never Trust’, before bringing the house down with a massive version of ‘The Legend Carries On’, a track always guaranteed to get the hairs on the back of this particular neck standing on their end as it snaps back and forth!
Just as the crew manage to get the roof back on the building, the huge cheer that greets Little Angels raises it again, and then some. They may be a bit older, but the stage front triumvirate of Jepson, Jim Dickinson and Mark Plunkett have lost none of their youthful exuberance as they launch into ‘She’s A Little Angel’ as cheekily as if the clock had not ticked forward by nigh on two decades.
Of course, with no new material in that period, this is very much a greatest hits set, and we are treated to lively versions of ‘Kickin’ Up Dust’ and ‘Boneyard’, the latter with an extended guitar solo from Dickinson, and a funky ‘Radical Your Lover’, which struts and preens all over the stage, into the venue, out the door, around the block and back again. ‘The Way That I Live’ is as defiant a statement as it ever was, while ‘Backdoor Man’ has lost none of its vigour.
Jepson straps on an acoustic guitar for a passionate ‘Don’t Pray For Me’ but, the resulting acoustic set is overlong and outstays its welcome: taking up the middle third of the set list, it’s more reminiscent of the frontman’s excellent solo shows and sounds, at least to these ears, unwelcomingly out of place.
Normal service is resumed, however, with a blistering ‘The Kids Wanna Rock’ and a superb ‘Too Much Too Young’: on both of these, Jepson continues to use his acoustic guitar, but here it is used to its best effect, to add that extra bluesy feel and depth to the numbers, as it does on first encore ‘I Ain’t Gonna Cry’ before the band finally take their bow with an appropriately enthusiastically received ‘Young Gods’.
The Angels may not be so little any more, but they still know how to rock – when they put their minds to it.
Set list: She’s A Little Angel / Kickin’ Up Dust / Boneyard / Radical Your Lover / The Way That I Live / Backdoor Man / My Kinda Life / Don’t Pray For Me / Soapbox / Womankind / I Was Not Wrong / The Kids Wanna Rock / Too Much Too Young
Encore: I Ain’t Gonna Cry / Young Gods
Little Angels live photograph by Marc Leach - http://www.marcleachphotography.com/