Live gig review : Brian Boyle (Journalist / Writer / Contributor)
Photography Brendan Esler
This was my third time seeing The Answer live. The first two times was when they were occupying the support slot on AC/DC’s Black Ice World Tour. Those gigs took place in a 14,000 capacity arena in Dublin, and then in front of 70,000 people on a County Kildare racecourse. Both fine performances, but in truth not really the fairest of concert situations to truly appreciate this bands live skill. But tonight is a lot different, tonight is Whelan’s in Dublin, a legendary music venue on the South side of the city, an establishment that would scarcely host 500 people. With a shoebox sized stage and a suspect house lighting rig, this was the perfect way to witness the Downpatrick boys.
New album Raise A Little Hell, their fifth in nine years immediately gets an airing with opener Long Live The Renegades, and for an album that was only released the previous day, the crowd sang the chorus like it was a well oiled classic. Spectacular, off previous album New Horizon which I personally think is one of their finest moments, keeps the Saturday night feelgood vibe ticking. Another newbie, Red gets the watery pints shaking with it’s raunchy fest rhythms.
I have to say for a man built of a very slender frame, vocalist Cormac Nesson’s voice box is bulging with the muscle and power of a seasoned steroid chewer. And on Demon Eyes he has his immaculate pipes pumping in pristine fashion. After the wonderfully trippy Why’d You Change Your Mind and a searing version of Into The Gutter, which also featured some nifty axe work from Paul Mahon, The Answer have the crowd sewn up.
James Heatley does his best Animal impersonation before I Am What I Am, and obviously months of trekking the universe with AC/DC has left a creative stamp on them. Angus Young’s famous Gibson SG would salivate at its cutting rhythm.
Tambourine in hand Cormac Nesson and co glide through a mean and rustic Last Days Of Summer, before this tiny venue becomes twice as intimate with a breathtaking acoustic rendition of Strange Kinda Nothin. A nice moment in the night, and you could sense a genuine personal connection between band and audience.
And with this being Neeson’s birthday, his party mode button was well and truly pressed with a tumultuous blast of New Horizon. And for another magic moment of intimacy, the charismatic front man enters the crowd and cajoles his followers to their knees for Raise A Little Hell. For a couple of minutes Whelan’s became a temple of worship. The always brilliant Nowhere Freeway has the adoring Dublin crowd in rapture’s, before closing this memorable evening with the Zep licked Evil Man.
The Answer exited the tiny stage with four massive Irish grins, the crowd departed with even bigger ones, having witnessed a band at the top of their game. There’s a unique quality about this band, put them in any decade over the past forty years, and their music would hold up with real relevance. There’s very few bands around today you can say that about.