Wednesday, 12 October 2011


The Answer - Revival

Question: What is straight-up, unadorned rock? The Answer.

Not actual symmetry, but then that probably reflects some of the caveats [very mild] I'll be attaching to the sentiment. The Answer's third studio album Revival is more of the same from their preceding two as well as the familial lineage of blues/hard rock from which these superb Northern Irish practitioners were born. Having supported AC/DC and Whitesnake on recent tours you get a clear sense of that fertile rock family gene.

Seeing them live last night at the Cavern club in Exeter was an ideal venue for experiencing their 'grassroots' rock, as lead singer Cormac Neeson put it to the capacity 200 audience where he seemed to genuinely enjoy the intimate and enthusiastic ambiance. The rock osmosis of sweat, alcohol, generic guitar shreds, thumping bass, thundering drums and Plantesque vocal was accelerated and fully absorbed through this compact share.

Here is symmetry: Can they rock? Yes they can. That is without question and I want to make this clear before any other observations come across, wrongly, as criticism. The musicianship is excellent, especially axeman Paul Mahon who shreds, wow wows and slides with aplomb, and singer Cormac who possesses a classic rock vocal as well as performer's exuberance. It's a dated sound, sure, but if you were brought up aurally on that rock foundation and/or still/now love its straightforward musical mainline to your body's adrenaline catalyst, then these guys push all the requisite buttons.

By stating 'generic' and 'Plantesque' in my description I know that could sound critical of their being derivative, but I see this as both honest and complimentary. The Answer are not original, but they re-present the sound with expertise and passion. Their mission is to continue the birth line of rock; to revive it where the birth rate has declined. As Cormac himself puts it about current album and tour, THE ANSWER are back, and our mission is to revive rock 'n' roll from the grassroots up! We had two great years playing in some of the biggest venues in the world, but this time around, on the first leg of our 'Revival' tour, we're going back to the sweaty, intimate venues where it all began. We've missed the intensity of being able to look our fans straight in the eye, and to have a beer with them after the show. We've got an entire album's worth of new material, and we're excited… bring it on!

I've listened to and enjoyed The Answer since the release of their first album Rise in 2006 when their emergence struck me exactly as I have described above: a retro-rock band recreating to perfection that sound. I still don't know any of their songs that well and find it difficult to differentiate partly because of that ignornace but also, as I've stated, because of their generic nature. Again, that sounds critical, but it's just an observation. That said, I don't think they will ever have a massive fan base [*] because they haven't managed to carve out even a few distinctive songs in the genre, unlike, for example, Black Country Communion. One of their most rousing and memorable numbers last night was Rock and Roll Outlaw, which I observed with some enthusiasm today only to be reminded that this was a Rose Tattoo original, and that really makes my point.

But, to finish on the positive note I do intend, if what you want is to capture some of that Cavern basement sweat and sweet rock'n'roll, put on latest Revival extremely loud and headbang until the beads roll off the matted hair and into whatever you are drinking and trying not to spill at the time. It'll be a stonkin' experience.

[*] Though 100,000 copies of Rise sold worldwide - 10,000 on the first day of sale in Japan - counters that somewhat: it's about perspective and relativity. I may be out of my arithmetical depth here in record sales statistics and context.

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