The original British bad boys of rock were coming to Adelaide, and I was pretty excited. Everyone knows The Animals, particularly their most famous hit, House of the Rising Sun and they have been counted as a huge influence on many stars, including Bruce Springsteen and others.
This was the second show, following a sell out performance the previous Friday night. The founding member, John Steel would be on drums, as well as keyboardist Mick Gallagher, who was briefly with the group in 1965. Rounding out the line up was Danny Handley on lead guitar and vocals, and Roberto Ruiz on bass.
When I arrived the place was starting to fill up, again it was an older crowd, but it was good to see a few younger faces around to enjoy the show.
The support act was Colin Lillie, who some of you may recognise from the television show The Voice. He treated the crowd to an acoustic set of his signature blues and folk sounds, with his powerful and evocative voice. He is a great performer, but the crowd was there for one thing, and it was The Animals.
They came on to the stage, spry and full of life and kicked the show off with It’s My Life. They were heavily influenced by rhythm and blues, and the set included some incredible covers of the greats such as Jimmy Reed, Aretha Franklin, and Cole Porter among others.
Danny Handley was fantastic on guitar, and Mick Gallagher was masterful on the keyboard. John Steel, one of the original members took some time to share some stories of the band’s early days and also paid tribute to Mick Gallagher’s contribution to the band. He was only in the band for a short time, covering for a short period after Alan Price left, but he is one of rock and roll’s great musical icons, having played with Ian Dury and the Blockheads, and also worked with the Clash, the Eurythmics and Paul McCartney.
As the set continued, we heard some more covers from Sam Cooke and Ray Charles, as well as the classic Animals hits. The crowd and the band were starting to warm up, and Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood and We Gotta Get Out of this Place had the crowd roaring along to the lyrics.
They left the stage, but the crowd were waiting for their signature Animals tune. They weren’t disappointed and they came back on for encore, first launching into John Lee Hooker’s Boom Boom Boom. Danny Handley and Mick Gallagher showed some great on stage chemistry, as they wowed the crowd with some intense improvised jamming and styling. John Steel still had the animal inside him as he kept up a staccato of intense drumming, which knit all of the members of the band together as they churned through their hits and classic blues tracks.
Before the final song of the night, John Steel took a few moments to share the story of its recording. Apparently it was recorded for fifteen bob in a seedy basement studio in London and they completed it in one take, before it went on to be the smash hit what it was. An incredible story for an incredible song. The crowd were well and truly primed for this, and the House of the Rising Sun raised the hairs on everyone’s next as they roared along the verses and choruses. And that was that, The Animals had come to town and left in their wake a lot of very happy and satisfied fans.
Live Review by Jeremy Watkinson