@Newcastle Riverside, November 15 2016
Nervously clutching an acoustic guitar and wiping the sweat from his dripping brow, The Answer’s Cormac Neeson explained a decision that clearly caused him a degree of discomfort. It was, he pointed out, a cheaper option than taking a second full-time axe-slinger on tour. “We’ve created a sub-genre,” he said. “It’s called ‘frugal rock’.”
Fraggle Rock better described The Dead Daisies. Their high octane, shamelessly excessive approach to arena-styled 80s rock was utterly at odds with The Answer’s introspective take on a fluid genre but the contrast proved quite compelling. Neeson had warned against expecting copycat sets from the co-headliners and that caution proved to be sound advice.
The difference in tone and delivery was stark. But both sets took their lead from 2016’s album releases: Make Some Noise did what it said on the tin when The Dead Daisies unleashed their latest record on the masses earlier this year. The more cerebral Solas, harking back to The Answer’s Celtic roots, always promised a more sedate live show.
But that’s not to say Neeson and co. lacked energy. Far from it. It was simply a case of focusing that energy and creating an immersive atmosphere where fans were afforded an opportunity to reflect on a series of deeply affecting lyrics and enjoy some truly beautiful soundscapes.
Think of The Answer as the brains and The Dead Daisies as the brawn. The latter are no gonzo rockers but an in-your-face set left very little to the imagination. Deadly Doug Aldrich provided the hot licks for the hot chicks while Marco Mendoza reminded the men in the audience that nothing’s quite as cool as a tall, dark rhythm king. Belting out Mexico, Lock N Load and Mainline – alongside covers by The Beatles, The Who, Creedance Clearwater Revival and The Sensational Alex Harvey Band – guaranteed a helter skelter show that had the Riverside rocking from start to finish.
Ultimately, however, it was blues-fuelled chanteuse Lynne Jackaman who stole the show. If her brief but brilliant acoustic set had stopped latecomers in their tracks then a sizzling duet with Neeson on Nowhere Freeway brought the house down. Like the acoustic guitar before her, Jackaman may well have been the cheaper option. But money can’t buy sublime talent and timeless style.