Angel Air 2017
Inspiration may not have saved the nation, but it gave a good run to English group who called it a day.
As far as wonderful absurd goes, only a few British combos were able to build a sustained career on whimsical songs, and this one would be a prime example of fantasy-fueled longevity. Yet, after two spans of success, what had started more almost 50 years ago came to an end in 2015, “The Final Bow” documenting the band’s last on-stage appearance and revealing how well their milestones matured.
None of their albums unturned, the ensemble concentrate on deep tracks from both distant and recent past, and throw into the mix a couple of pieces that didn’t make it to a studio LP. The quirkiest numbers aren’t performed here, though, stressing the set list’s sentimentality: from the translucent welcome of “Over The Horizon” to “Do The Stanley” which is passed to a brass section and audience singalong, there’s dewy-eyed nostalgia fogging up the proceedings, what with Mutter Slater’s flute returning to the fold for “Slark” and “Purple Spaceships Over Yatton” to help Andy Davis and James Warren close the decades-wide circle.
Of course, the vaudeville slant driving “Boots And Shoes” or “The Last Plimsoll” brings the band’s humor to the fore as usual, and the soft shine of “Lummy Days” or “The Road To Venezuela” can’t be dimmed, yet the harmonies behind “Red Squirrel” and other post-hiatus numbers lace the concert with immense sadness. In such a light, the sweet weirdness inherent to “No One’s More Important Than The Earthworm” and “Syracuse The Elephant” is stately, especially when violins embroider these folk-tinctured romantic tapestries, while a soaring guitar solo takes “Long Dark River” to another dimension, one that only “God Speed The Plough” dared to measured before.
Observing the group’s route from the vantage point of today, it’s almost impossible to avoid the wondering at how many songs in their repertoire bid farewell to a moment the artists’ inhabited at any given time, because the latter-day title track is only a reflection of the “Teatime” delicacy, and there’s a firm logic in placing Davis’ extracurricular “All I Do Is Dream Of You” alongside collective creations like “Fish In A Glass” whose insistent irony wouldn’t be lost on the crowd cheering their exit – because charisma still surrounds them.
The end of the story, then? Time for the band to go? Given their whimsy, here’s hoping they’ll be back one day.