|The Answer/Our Propaganda/Elixir – Southampton, The Engine Rooms - 2 March 2017|
|Written by Phil Cooper|
|Thursday, 09 March 2017 05:00|
It’s been a while since I've last got the chance to see The Answer. The ‘Revival’ tour was the last time I had the chance to see Cormac and the guys belt out their style of Seventies-influenced rock 'n' roll. So, when I saw that thry were coming down south (and I could get the time off work), I was in.
It was also the opportunity to have a look at the Engine Rooms venue, a place I'd heard a lot about and seen on a lot of different touring schedules but never got around to visiting. Upon arriving at the venue two thoughts struck me: one, it's an excellent spot for a gig as it's on an industrial estate away from any noise complainants; and two, it's a smaller venue than I was expecting. That's not to say that the venue is cramped in any way: it's laid out in such a way that everything is easily accessible and the audience is right by the stage allowing for a more intimate feel and for the band to get right in your face. I've had the new album ‘Solas’ on regularly and have thoroughly enjoyed what The Answer have produced so I was keen to see how it would work on stage and I was interested to see how they would work in the venue.
Upon arriving the first support act, Elixir were just getting into their set. A four-piece local band and it's clear why these guys got the chance to open for The Answer. They've got a big sound for a young band that fits in perfectly with groove and vibe of what is set to come later in the evening. They encompass all the style qualities of the rock genre yet they put a decent modern twist on it which creates a very catchy sound.
Very often, support bands don't always get the attention they deserve as everybody is too busy getting a beer and chatting, however as soon as people were in the doors, Elixir, held everybody's attention and made for a thoroughly enjoyable opening set. The rhythm section of Harry Stevenson (bass) and Bradley Turner (drums) is the power house of the band powering through grooves that have a healthy mix of Rage Against The Machine and Clutch that keeps the collective feet of the audience stamping all the way through the set. Guitar riffs from Laurence Henderson match up perfectly with the rhythm section and add an extra layer of the classic rock vibe with seventies edged power chords and melodies. They're a tight unit as a band and with the vocals of Jack White at the forefront who also has the energy required to take on the frontman role, I think more can be expected from Elixir however, they more than proved themselves as the opening act for tonight.
Following on from Elixir is another four-piece local band, Our Propaganda. Full of energy and a swagger that has come through playing as a unit for a long time. They tear into their set and never let up until the final chord. The intimate nature of the venue comes into its own with these guys as frontman Jack Denton makes the stage his own and gets the chance to focus on audience members individually. As much as the eye is drawn to the frontman and his stage presence there is more to focus on with these guys, Harvey Groom has a commanding presence with his eight-string guitar, excellent tone and competent riffs that gives song an individual personality.
However, the audience cannot help but track the endlessly energetic bassist Joe Newman, he shouts along to every lyric whilst simultaneously covering his 10,000 steps a day with leaps and bounds across every foot of the stage. The whole sound is rounded off by the powerhouse drums of Charlie Denton, although he is slightly hidden from sight due to antics of the others out front he more than makes his presence known by locking in tight with the bass and never missing a beat. Even on their more ballad like numbers the energy of Our Propaganda never wanes and the audience remains enthralled from start to finish.
The only thing that might add more to their sound is more depth of backing vocals, perhaps Joe Newman could get a microphone as he appears to know all the words this would however put a limit on his distance covering performance and he may not suit the Britney Spears style of radio mic.
Nine thirty is approaching and there is a buzz among the crowd as The Answer can be seen getting ready to take the stage. So far, we've had an excellent taste of the local talent that the South coast has to offer and we're now ready for the latest instalment of the 'In This Land' tour.
Hat on and striding to the microphone, Cormac is greeted by a wave of cheers and before we know it their ripping into 'Solas' the opening track from their latest album and a great way to open the gig. The album has been out just long enough for everyone in the crowd to know the words and get stuck into singing along with the highly infectious energy that the Answer always deliver. Despite this being one of the dates in the latter half of the tour there is no sign of let up from the quartet and it’s obvious that they are enjoying themselves right from the off.
The set list is very well tailored to suit fans, featuring tracks from each album spanning the last ten years (except for ‘Raise a Little Hell’). Immediately after ‘Solas’ the band goes into ‘Never Too Late’, one of the highlights from debut album ‘Rise’ and the crowd turns up the noise in appreciation. From here on in it’s a full octane rock ‘n’ roll gig and the band feeds off the crowd’s energy, the type of gig that flows onwards and no one wants the house lights to come up.
The excellent rhythm section of Michael Waters (bass) and James Heatley (drums) provide a solid anchor for the rock ‘n’ roll attack of Cormac’s full range vocals and Paul Mahon’s screaming guitar work. Tracks from the new album such as ‘Beautiful World’ and the acoustically driven ‘In This Land’ are received with as much applause as the classic favourites of ‘Demon Eyes’, ‘Waste Your Tears’ and ‘Come Follow me’.
This new album and subsequent tour has represented a return to full form for The Answer after some troubling times and if the rest of their subsequent gigs can match the energy shown here at The Engine Rooms then it’s hopeful the band can keep on for a long time yet.
PHOTO CREDIT: Live photos taken at Limelight 1, Belfast. © Darren McVeigh/MetalPlanet.
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