I’m not a big Paddy’s Day fan myself. I’m not averse to the idea of spending the day drinking Guinness; I’ve just never really gotten into the whole furore, as each year it has seemingly passed me by without any real recognition. Never have I yearned for the inside of an Irish bar, packed to the rafters with big hats and funny beards. However, as a band actually originating from Northern Ireland and entertaining enough verve to turn the plainest of days into a party, The Answer come with the promise of a proper Paddy’s Day knees-up. It doesn’t take much to get the locals going on a day such as today, but the band come true on a performance sure to shake any irritable leprechaun into a state of hard rock admiration.
A sense of scale is initiated from the off, as two-piece The Picturebooks delve into a sound which defies their shortcomings in terms of bodies. The German duo deliver on a set which reflects the gutsy garage rock which made their 2014 record Imaginary Horse such a strong release, typified by track such as ‘Your Kisses Burn Like Fire’. The raw aesthetic of the duo is found lacking somewhat upon the ascent of Bad Touch, though where the edgy dynamic espoused by our openers is missing, what the four-piece offer instead is a performance which is slick, polished and bundled with classic rock’n’roll charm. It doesn’t take long to see why the band have made the likes of Best Live Band at the Exposure Music Awards in 2012, as they have nurtured their hard rock aesthetics and cultivated a live show which sends the drunken Paddy’s Day disciples into a joyous mob. ‘Wise Water’ is a definite highlight, reflecting both the band’s knack for knocking out fat, knockout riffs and a killer chorus.
There was little to distract the gathered from what they were really here for though. Even a misfire as bad as ‘how you doing Newcastle?!’ couldn’t deter the crowd; Gallic rock’n’roll was the only appropriate option, and on such a count, The Answer certainly heeded the call. Frontman Cormac Neeson, flitting as he did between singing in his trademark, gravely tones and pouring whisky into the cups of those within pouring range, stepped up to the mark and led his band down a trajectory which epitomised the positives from both opening acts. Spirited (no intentional whisky pun) and intense in their performance, The Answer injected the evening with the sort of reckless life only their genre truly can.
Whereas on ‘Red’ and ‘Raise A Little Hell’ the band divulge in an approach which is anthemic and direct, moments such as the (mainly) acoustic ‘Strange Kind Of Nothing’ reflect an intimacy to the band’s sound, and translates to their live show in stunning fashion. The band-audience connection they clearly take so seriously was further reflected in Neeson’s venture into the crowd, intending to break any barrier between himself and his faithful, and succeeding spectacularly without any notion of gimmick.
What both Paddy’s Day and The Answer thrive on is a sense of inclusion; everyone’s in it together and sharing something of value, be that something as banal as an excuse to get pissed or a showing of old school rock’n’roll verve. What matters is whether you want to follow the ranks and join in. I’m still unable to comment on the Paddy’s Day dilemma; in the case of The Answer, however, I’d advise some strong consideration.