Live: The Answer

Northern Irish riff’n’roll.

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The 2005 winners of the Classic Rock Best New Band award may not have quite fulfilled their commercial potential – their 2008-9 support slots with AC/DC are the closest they’ve come to being the stadium attraction of their dreams – but if you ignore statistics and focus on the funky riffing, there are few better nights out for fans of no-frills boogie.

I Am What I Am is the typically rhythmic opener as Cormac Neeson, who resembles a long-lost Allman Brother, offers unreconstructed rock frontman poses and piercing shrieks. Red has an anthemic I Love Rock’N’Roll quality and invites some call-and-response from the singer and the band’s devoted following. Demon Eyes finds Neeson, eminently accessible, wandering among the faithful, while propulsive new single Gone Too Long is as warmly welcomed as any of the older songs.

Aristocrat is almost Zep-ishly powerful, the psych foray in the middle a rare digression into the strange, then Preachin’ invites simultaneous clapping and bouncing along. Raise A Little Hell is another rave-up party number, even if, counter-intuitively, the frontman instructs everyone to sit on the floor. They encore with Nowhere Freeway, which is one notch below metal in terms of sonic violence, and the supercharged hard rock of Under The Sky.

Finally, Neeson asks us to stick around after the show, and he disappears into the crowd before heading to the bar.

Classic Rock 215: Lives

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Paul Lester

Paul Lester is the editor of Record Collector. He began freelancing for Melody Maker in the late 80s, and was later made Features Editor. He was a member of the team that launched Uncut Magazine, where he became Deputy Editor. In 2006 he went freelance again and has written for The Guardian, The Times, the Sunday Times, the Telegraph, Classic Rock, Q and the Jewish Chronicle. He has also written books on Oasis, Blur, Pulp, Bjork, The Verve, Gang Of Four, Wire, Lady Gaga, Robbie Williams, the Spice Girls, and Pink.