It’s an odd one, this.
Tracer played this venue a year or so back. RTM was here. It was full, and it was excellent. So it must be a touch of a comedown for them to be the opening for The Answer at the same venue.
There is mitigation. Of course, in the current fiscal climate such package tours are not unusual and the value for money should be applauded, and it should have been at the bigger Wulfrun Hall around the corner, before Doctor And The Medics cancelled it got switched here.
That said, if Tracer are disillusioned, they don’t show it. Since they were last in these parts they have stuck out the excellent “El Pistolero” record and its title track is so good it rivals the brilliant “Too Much” for song of their set. They also have a freak out in “Voice In The Rain” and they show just why they are so popular. You would guess that bigger venues than this await them.
Last month’s Classic Rock Magazine contained an interview with The Answer ahead of the release of their new album “New Horizon.” During that feature they spoke about their belief that they hadn’t fulfilled their potential. Not for nothing does “….Horizon’s” first single contain the lyric “we could be spectacular….” Theirs is a career that has seen them support everyone, release excellent records and gain support, but not quite enough. We saw them a decade ago at the old Academy 2 – a venue that is about the same size as this, but if their audience has stagnated, the albums have not.
Tonight kicks off with the title track from “…Horizon” they play for an hour and a half, and it does not dip once, and if you had forgotten how good the band are, now might be a good time re-acquaint yourself with them.
Although the whole band are in top form, Cormac Neeson is very much its heart. Neeson has always been an excellent frontman and now possesses a naturally gregarious nature and charm to go with it. He has a formidable voice too, similar to Robert Plant of course, but The Answer are too often tagged as almost entirely retro. This isn’t fair, and they have enough originality to be seen as an important group in modern rock, not some mere copyists.
As well as their new stuff, they are not afraid to dip into their past and Demon Eyes remains as catchy as anything they have, while “Under The Sky” still kicks and screams like it always did.
After their set ends with “Preachin’” and Neeson has jumped into the crowd before shaking hands with the front few rows with a beaming smile, you are left to reflect that perhaps this is what The Answer need to be in 2013. Perhaps, they need to stop thinking about what they could have won and instead focus on what they have got, which is a decent following, some excellent records and a history of great shows – a fact they themselves acknowledge in the track “Leave With Nothin’” which about the joys of being in a touring band.
As live bands go, to paraphrase their own song, they are spectacular and whilst they might never headline Wembley, they have proved yet again that they are quite superb.