The Angels: Kickin’ Down the Door (Adelaide Film Festival) – Film Review

Australia has a huge rock and roll history, especially in the 70s, with a slew of bands forming throughout that decade, and going on to be stalwarts of the Aussie music scene. Bands such as Cold Chisel, Midnight Oil, AC/DC and of course, The Angels. The latter became the focus of a new feature documentary; The Angels: Kickin’ Down the Door.

Madeleine Parry helms the project, putting a fun and unique spin on the documentary format. The film is heavy with archival footage and photographs, and I was actually shocked how much there actually was! Not just from the time of the band’s existence, but also from the members’ childhoods and early lives. 

Parry has weaved together this footage with great skill, using fun animations and present-day interviews with not only the band members, but also their families, friends and industry colleagues. I loved this style of storytelling and Parry has put together a creative and in-depth portrait of one of Australia’s most loved bands, presenting a warts and all story that anyone could sit down and enjoy.

The Angels: Kickin’ Down the Door delves deep into the history of The Angels, exploring the childhood of the Brewster brothers and Bernard Doc Neeson, their formative years and early musical careers that lead to the conception of The Angels. Like all bands, it’s not a smooth journey, with band member changes regularly, in-fighting and the clashing of egos, and the film didn’t hide any of this. It was a no-holds barred look at the inner workings, the drama, and the emotion behind these rock legends, which I found to be absolutely fascinating.

I found the interviews with John and Rick Brewster to be extremely interesting, as they were the heart and soul of the band, but the group was brought to the next level by front man Doc Neeson. The brothers spoke with fondness of their memories, but at times also showed raw emotion too, particularly when speaking of their siblings and their father, also a notable musician in his own right. 

Unfortunately, Doc Neeson passed away in 2014, so only archival interviews were used to tell parts of his story, but I am glad they were included, and would have loved to have heard his take on other events. Neeson was an incredible frontman, with so much charisma and style, a real unique performer and I would have loved to have heard his angle on the band’s chaotic history.

If you’re a fan of live music, this is honestly a must-see film! Sure, I knew of The Angels before this, how can you not with hits such as ‘Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again’ or ‘No Secrets’. But after watching this film, I have a much greater respect for these men and the everlasting influence they have on Australian rock and roll, which is evident in bands that I love today.

I was lucky enough to attend the world premiere of the film at Adelaide Film Festival, squeezing into a packed cinema to witness this incredible story unfold on the big screen, which was followed by a live performance from The Angels, now led by rock legend Dave Gleeson. And I tell you what, after well over 40 years as a band, they still put on a heck of a show. I can’t wait to see them again!

The Angels: Kickin’ Down the Door has one more screening at the Adelaide Film Festival on Saturday October 29th before opening Australia-wide in all good cinemas from December 1.
The Adelaide Film Festival is on until the 30th of October.

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