@Ramblin’ Man Fair, Mote Park, Kent, July 24 2016
Some bands are born to command the big stage but if there’s one truism in classic rock it’s this: The Answer deserve to be there more often.
A transatlantic stadium-run with AC/DC on the Black Ice tour allowed the Ulstermen to excel in their natural environment but that was the best part of seven years ago. Since then the opportunities to play in front of tens of thousands, rather than a few hundred, have been few and far between.
But The Answer are always ready to take their chance. And it didn’t take classy frontman Cormac Neeson long to acclimatise to a festival made for celebrating his band’s brilliant take on fiery blues rock.
Rolling out the best of Rise – 10-years-old but still sounding fresher than ever – was guaranteed to find favour with Ramblin’ Man’s core demographic. An album rammed with tunes so timeless they’ll be tearing a strip off lame pretenders 50 years down the line, it remains a sparkling testament to The Answer’s talent as sublime songwriters.
There’s a suggestion they peaked too early. In reality, Rise was the platform for a band that’s delivered a decade-long succession of flawless records yet never been given the credit for a crazily high level of consistency.
Come Follow Me is still the ultimate classic rock call to arms and Neeson – flanked by the peerless Paul Mahon – revelled in its cohesive force: at the point the first chorus kicked in thousands of sun-soaked fans suddenly fell in love with The Answer all over again.
But the real treat here? A glimpse into the future when there might have been none. The Answer have ploughed on where many less determined musicians might have thrown in the towel and turned their backs on rock. And if there is any justice in the world then new record Solas will repay that faith and kickstart the career of a band that’s so much better than their recent record sales suggest.
Wrapping up new tune Thief Of Light – a folksy, Celtic affair – and the gospel-tinged title track was brave yet brilliant. On this evidence The Answer can Rise again. The sooner the better.