A decade ago The Answer were being tipped as being tomorrow’s heroes, but now they’re seen by many as yesterday’s men. That might sound harsh — such is the fickle nature of potential — yet here they are, celebrating the 10th anniversary of their debut album Rise by playing it in its entirety in front of an appreciative, packed crowd.
Starting off with the rollicking Under the Sky and the pulsing Never Too Late, The Answer follow the track order on the album, which adds a certain authenticity to the occasion. It also helps that the band’s line-up now is the same as it was in 2006, but what has altered over the intervening years is their approach. If anything, they’re more comfortable with these songs today than they were a decade ago. Thankfully, their youthful energy is still intact — now been augmented by a musical maturity that’s added an extra sharpness — and The Answer are a lot more focused and dynamic than they were as fresh faced hopefuls.
You can hear the obvious blues references throughout songs like Be What You Want and Memphis Water. On the former, frontman Cormac Neeson recalls shooting a video in a freezing cold tube station in the middle of the night, while the latter is dedicated to all those who love s drop of whiskey.
Neeson’s vocals are beautifully clenched throughout, while Paul Mahon plays some superb bottleneck and slide guitar at times, adding real, punching flair. The influence of Free, Bad Company and Humble Pie is evident on much of the material, but the band are never drowned by their connection to these inspirations.
The set climaxes with the triplet of Sometimes Your Love, Leavin’ Today and Preachin’, which raise the temperature with a heated blues rock tirade, but ends in a rather low key manner with the slow-burning Always. Of course, this is the final song on the album, but somehow it seems to be slightly anticlimactic. The Answer’s dedication to sticking to the running order of the album is to be applauded, but there’s something to be said for relocating Always to elsewhere in the performance and letting the charismatic Preachin’ bring everything to a more suitable live conclusion.
The encore begins with the guys delving even deeper back into the catalogue with Keep Believin’, which was on their 2003 self-released EP Come On Free Me. They then take a leap into the future by playing two songs from their new album, which is due out later in the year. It’s a brave move to introduce a pair of tracks nobody has heard into this nostalgic environment, but it works. Thief Of Light has the hallmarks of a power ballad masterclass, while Solas, which is slated to be title track of the album, burns with an epic brightness.
This is a night when Answer fans could recall the past with unbridled enthusiasm, but were also afforded a glimpse of what’s to come, proving that the band are far from desperately hanging on to long gone glories.
All pics: Kevin Nixon