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Friday, 3 March 2017

A View From The Back Of The Room: The Answer (Live Review By Paul)

The Answer, The Globe

It’s been a turbulent three years since The Answer were in the Welsh capital. A time of uncertainty, darkness and worry. Two albums further down the line and one could cruelly say no change. To me, the fact that The Answer is still turning in shows of such exceptional quality is a miracle.

Missing openers Calling Apollo due to work commitments, Ebbw Vale based ScarSun (5) struggled with a poor mix, lead singer Ellie’s obvious respiratory discomfort and some apparent internal conflicts. Sorry to say but the band did not look happy. With a short set, the band valiantly ploughed on, receiving polite applause from the crowd but all parties looked relieved when the set had finished. It’s a shame as their alt-rock sound hinted at decent things. Maybe next time.

A smaller than expected crowd greeted the Irish Rover entrance music and the arrival of Northern Ireland’s favourite sons The Answer (10) with much joy. It was after all St David’s Day in Wales and the bond that us Celts share was evident throughout the night. None more so than when Cormack Neeson produced a bottle of JD and proceeded to pour generous portions for the front row and beyond. Neat touch and one wildly appreciated.

The set itself was crammed with goodies which cut across the band’s history. Unsurprisingly, no fewer than seven songs from last year’s Solas made their debut on Welsh soil, and they sounded brilliant. For those of us at Steelhouse Festival last summer, you might recall the band closing their set with the title track. I maintain that Solas is the best song the band have ever written and having been honed on the road for a few months, it was the perfect opener with its dark and brooding smouldering capturing everyone’s attention. Alongside the new tunes a few of the older classics stood shoulder to shoulder. These included a blistering Demon Eyes from Everyday Demons and Never Too Late and Under The Sky from debut Rise. However, it was the new stuff which was the focus of the set and it was interesting to see how many of those present were familiar with the material. Some subtle changes of pace for the acoustic grounded tracks such as In This Land and Thief Of Light balanced the set perfectly. The new material has a grittier more local feel and whilst it took a while to warm to it on CD it really worked live. Tunnel and the penultimate track, the gorgeous emotion filled Battle Cry in particular held the audience captivated.

The Answer captures the Planet Rock and Steelhouse demographic perfectly and those present showed their appreciation at every opportunity. Some great Welsh singing throughout the evening, especially on Come Follow Me and the usual set closer Spectacular. A special treat with an additional song at the end of the set, the blues soaked Memphis Water brought a great set to an end. With sets always filled with humour, honesty and superb quality music, I fail to understand why these guys are not filling venues three times the size of The Globe. However, I’m thankful that Cormac, Micky, Paul and James continue to follow their path. The world would be a much duller place without The Answer.

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