Celebrating St David’s Day The Globe Finds The Answer
The wind was biting and vicious as we waited for doors to open at The Globe in Cardiff on St David’s night. The Queue was excited The Answer were in town as the long white tour bus parked outside confirmed. Before the mighty Answer would take to the stage with their distinctive blending of rock, with Irish folk to have us rolling with delight in the aisles, (we all wanted to hear our favourite tracks from Solas performed live for us), and to warm us up and build the rock vibe we had not one but two rock acts. First was young guns Calling Apollo.
Calling Apollo, a Cardiff-based band certainly made a positive impression. A young band with something to sing about with Christian Neale’s vocals power combined with powerful rhythms and guitars that add a layer of rock chords full of colour and textures. With tracks from the EP they recorded in a bedroom Great Depression Act 1 created an atmosphere as they harnessed their inner placebo. They certainly woke the room up, we were waiting for The Answer and having fun. Then a short change over, the small stage was definitely packed and an Ebbw Vale based alt. rock band, Scarsun strode on the stage with Jessica Irvine’s vocals flowing with a swish of her hair. They were loud, at times the tempo was off and the timing lost. The loudness meant Jessica’s vocals were drowned out and yes we want our metal loud, but it needs tonal shape and balance this was missing tonight. Sadly, did not rock this doodles metal soul.
Now for a clearing of the stage, and we waited as the crowds built for the act we wanted to celebrate St David’s day with. The Answerhit the stage to a loud welcoming cheer, and the audience response got louder and even warmer as the show progressed. Cormac Neeson was on fire as we started the evening with the title track of their epic album Solas; we were now being bathed in the rock magic the answer to tonight’s need for a slug of live music. Combining this a lucky few shared a slug of Jack Daniels handed out by Cormac as the Northern Irish band from Down Patrick joined in the celebrations on St David’s Day in the capital city of Wales. Accepting a flag from a renowned “gigpig”, Charley Farley we were Celts in celebratory mode.
Tonight, the music was the celebration as the set list was populated with the new direction The Answer have taken with the latest offering Solas; intertwined with hooks back to the past so we heard the boogie rawer sound as well. As we stepped back to the debut album Rise with Never Too Late, as Cormack quipped, you remembered that! The opening chords of Beautiful World captivated the audience who were held in the hands of the band whose music connected us all. The power of boogie was harnessed with the energy and slide guitar of Paul Mahon on Demon Driven Man we were rocking and if there was more space we would all have been dancing. The night was not all about the combination of the six stringed guitar and bass line as the mandolin was played by Paul and Michael Waters put down the bass to play the six strings on In This Land, a smattering of Celtic-infused magic. Then Cormac introduced The Globe to The Balalaika, a Turkish instrument popular for some reason in Irish music in Being Begotten.
The crowd was loud and harmonious when asked to join in and when Coramc stepped off the stage into the crowd he was engulfed with delighted fans who wanted to get close. All too soon it was time for the final song, as they took up Battle Cry from Solas leaving us happy, humming the music we love to hear. The infectious power of live music won the award for the answer to What entertainment on St David’s Day? – it was most definitely The Answer at The Globe we rocked with you. With a shout out for Steelhouse a festival they love to play I am positive they will get another invite to climb the mountain and play once again.
Listen then check out the dates and catch The Answer live.
Unlike the traditional sound of The Answer, ‘In This Land’ has a more contemporary stripped-down folk sound utilising acoustic guitars, mandolins and layered harmonies. It sees the band rediscover their roots and is a paean to the greats of their Northern Irish culture referencing influences such as Van Morrison, Alex Higgins and Rory Gallagher. To coincide with the strong links to home, the track will be released on March 17th – St Patrick’s day.
Says singer Cormac Neeson, “The song is about growing up in Northern Ireland and the sense of cultural identity that such an upbringing spawns. It’s a very colourful and wonderful place, at times contradictory, at times tragic but always unique and oh so memorable. It’s something we’re all very proud of; our little land has been responsible for its fair share of heroes, criminals and stars!”
The single taken from their latest album Solas, which came out late last year and received rave reviews. Team Rock referred to the album as “…an unmistakable, quantum leap forward. Bluesdoodles loved the album who we reviewed last year check out what we said HERE
Do not confuse the title with anything maritime! Solas is Irish Gaelic for Light, not the acronym – Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). With that clarified what about the music on their seventh studio album Solas? If you expect Rock with a loud shout you will be disappointed. If you want light-rock fused with roots of Irish folk, lyrics that curl around with melodic intensity you are in the right listening zone.
The Answer, have taken one helluva musical journey over the ten years since the debut album Rise with its blues-infused rock. Now on Solas the exploration of their Gaelic heritage in the musical tone and lyrical shaping full of misty mysticism, fear of the dark, hidden regrets and the light of hope is apparent.
Opening with the title track with a wave of sound or percussion that feels like a wave, James Heatley’s relentless drumming is the backdrop for Cormac Neeson’s vocals. The chorus is melodic full of Celtic harmonies flowing as the music takes you deep into the soul of the band, their experiences and reflecting the light of Solas. The guitar work is huge as the number closes with a lead break that promises much from Paul Mahon. Rock firmly rooted in the traditional shapes Beautiful World with its captivating opening chords full of Eastern promise. That opens up with instrumentation with the energy of rock contained to be played at eight, not eleven. The result is the lyrics dominate and it is the voice that is the main instrument, with Micky Water’s bass, along with the guitar and drums playing a supporting role filling in the gaps acting as lead breaks for the words.
Yes, now three tracks in this Irish-infused rock harnessing tones and textures from the folk tradition. The Answer, on Solas have a story to be told and heard. The ballad Battle Cry, this will be fantastic live as the audience picks up the chorus and lifts the spirits of all hearing the music. This is Irish folk-rock that fills the heart with melodic joy as Gaelic merges with the English. Half-way through Thief of Light takes us with mandolin and Celtic harmonious riffs far away with a reflective sound, that reminds us that sometimes we need to start again as if the dark is to be conquered and energy regained.
Then, a change of musical shape with Being Begotten as we head to a blues-infused Southern Swamp leaving the emerald-green of Irishness. This blues-infused feel reflecting their debut album Rise is found again with Southern-rock Demon Driven Man, with a rock n’ roll upbeat feel upfront and full of energy.
The three bonus tracks have an acoustic feel In This Land, Light In The Darkness both full of folk-inspired chords and structure and then a fuzzy reinterpretation of Pink Floyd’s Money.
The Answer on Solas deliver reflective rock, light and at times whimsical not something to play loud and hard but to sit and enjoy. Reflecting the turmoil of life and the need to go back to their roots and bring pure Irish gold into their rock. This is Rock that has a gentler edge softened by the winds of time and gives you space to reflect before cranking up the volume with a rock offering from a different part of The Answer’s journey or someone else in your collection.
That said Solas definitely has a place in your rock collection bridging rock with tradition. It is an album you will return to and on every occasion, your appreciation of the subtleties will grow as you hear more of the clever lyrics missed on the last outing.
Both ‘Solas’ and ‘Beautiful World’ will be available as instant grat downloads with pre-orders of the album via digital stores,
which will go live on September 16th.
A decade into the band’s career, Solas marks a significant turning point for The Answer as they turned inwards to their culture, musical heritage and deep-rooted sense of ‘Irishness’. The album is a hugely varied body of work encompassing elements of their Celtic background as well as their renowned trademark guitar attack.
Opening with the dark hypnotic drum beat of the title track ‘Solas’, a brooding rock anthem that builds to a climactic release with an explosive and almost operatic choral finale, the album showcases the band’s love of Irish harmony; the combination of mandolins and Celtic choral arrangements suspend time on the harmonious ‘Thief Of Light’ while ‘In This Land’ summons an epic resolve and demonstrates an atmospheric turning point in the band’s sound.
Not turning their back on their blues-filled rock anthems, ‘Demon Driven Man’ is perfect rock’n’roll fare, but it is the epic ‘Battle Cry (Seo An La Mo Laoch Mo Ghra)’, a six-minute call to arms featuring elements of Celtic music, a Gaelic vocal chant, windswept rock and even thunderous Samba rhythms, which best epitomises the old and new of The Answer.
Having gone back to their roots and rediscovered their inner selves Solas is an honest and brave album that panders to no label, to no media framework and to no rules. It is a record that bears the scars and soul of four talented men from Northern Ireland; sometimes troubled but seeking creative liberation.
Now firmly embarked upon a new journey with a roaring fire inside, The Answer will be bringing their fierce Irish rock’n’roll to the UK this November.
Sat 12th – The Lemon Tree Aberdeen, United Kingdom
Sun 13th – The Classic Grand Glasgow, United Kingdom
Mon 14th – Corporation Sheffield, United Kingdom
Tues 15th – Riverside Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom
Wed 16th – Picturedrome Holmfirth, United Kingdom
Fri 18th – Diamond Live Lounge Doncaster, United Kingdom
Sat 19th – Academy 2 Birmingham, United Kingdom
Sun 20th – Concorde 2 Brighton, United Kingdom
Tue 22nd – Waterfront Norwich, United Kingdom
Wed 23rd – Electric Ballroom London, United Kingdom
The Answer Webstore: HERE
Pledge Music: HERE
How does Sunburn and Rust combine for Steelhouse Festival Glory? The glory part is easy two days of phenomenal live music on top of a mountain in Wales. The sunburn and rust that is the vagaries of a Welsh summer, Saturday was scorching hot, whilst on Sunday the misty drizzle dampened the ground but not the spirit of rocking fun.
Saturday 23rd July 2016 – Hot and Sunny Rocking
Opening a festival is a daunting experience. Bigfoot, a young rock band from Wigan, stepped on the stage and left a lasting impression. This is a band with the potential to go places, full of confidence and good songs they were a hit, still remembered as the festival drew to a close on Sunday. Saturday was warming up throughout the day, with each successive band raising the bar ever higher as the temperature, excitement and fun grew. Next up was Dirty Thrills, they definitely thrilled the crowds with rocked up individuality with a thread of blues as bright as the skies overhead. Full of energy on stage they interact with each other and the crowds, the high jinx’s though never deflects from the deep groove-laden music. A great set they will keep building their reputation as rocked-up contemporary excitement from Dirty Thrills.
Centre stage of any festival is the music from the stage, but to get a true festival vibe it is the added extra. After the steep climb up the mountain on a dusty track you are greeted with a vista that spreads across the horizon it is beautiful. The stage dominates the area. In addition there is a wide selection of foods and drinks alcoholic and some delicious coffee. Then there was the lovely jewelry made from guitar strings, leather goods, bandanas (the doodle, Othello, in bluesdoodles is delighted with his new red bandana that is his little bit of The Dead Daisies) and the festival and bands merchandise.
The next two bands show different sides of rock, Vega, with a charismatic lead singer who knew how to flaunt the power of the runway stage they got everyone’s attention with the dramatic entrance, and cartoon backdrop. Once their attention was gained the audience warmed to them this is rock that will always, please. Young dudes that are getting deserved attention are Tax The Heat, and in the heat of the afternoon if they were tax collectors they would have pulled in the money. They do not need to be tax collectors the heat is in the rock they deliver from the strong rhythm section through to Alex Veale up front this is a stylish band with depth and delicious slide guitar from JP. The heat will continue to rise for this young band.
In between the sets the breaks are long enough to catch up with friends, make new acquaintances and deepen the relationship between Steelhouse and festival attendees. This year as the festival develops the campsite area has a new addition, Glamping tents, which proved popular as they were sold out weeks before the festival dates.
The shadows lengthened and the sun cooled as the last four bands of a wonderful opening day got ready to strut their stuff. First of the international bands from Finland, Von Hertzen Brothers, with a spectacular backdrop telling a story of two Ravens in chains against the red background. New Day Rising their current album cover is certainly a powerful image and the music hit the mark with a prog-rock twist and keys that provided a textured background sound. Mikko the vocalist has wonderful phrasing singing gently then with vigour and at times with a roughened edge. They added another layer of rock strata building the Saturday into a perfect festival memory. Following on Blues Pills kept the Scandinavian feel with Swedish/American/French inspired rock and the first woman, Elin Larsson up front burning up the stage with her stunning vocals at Steelhouse. The quartet mix up the flow with a definite sixties feeling as the lead guitar curls around the music redolent of early Fleetwood Mac, Hendrix, Aretha Franklin creating a sound that is their own Blues Pills mesmerizes with an addictive psychedelic rock.
To follow this we had The Answer, celebrating the tenth anniversary of the release of their debut album, Rise. Cormac’s distinctive vocals got the set underway as unusually for a festival they played the album in full. The set was full of emotional command reminding you of how good the album was and still is. In this day and age of streaming and random play the set re-asserted the inherent power and flow of hearing the whole album as the artist planned it. There is context story and drama. The audience participation was enthusiastic on Preachin’ Blues this was quality festival entertainment. Now the final live band of the opening day.
The only threat of bad weather today was always going to be from the stage where a storm of Thunder was being counted down by the phalanx of fans up front they wanted to see every moment of the final set as the day darkened into a summer’s night. Yes, the air temperature was dropping high above Ebbw Vale, the festival was heating up a light display, entrance music and then Thunder hit the stage to the chant of Harry! Harry as the drummer took his seat. Danny Bowes lead from the front building the vocals and the crowd’s excitement. Thunder did not disappoint, hitting the music running with a thunderous set that connected with fans and beyond. The audience sang to the words that tripped off the tongue we were partying the night away creating a great atmosphere as the last notes faded away. For those who wanted to party the night was young with the DJ’s setting up for dancing and fun at a festival with no neighbours to upset.
Sunday 24th July 2016 – Grey, Drizzle and Misty Rocking
Day one, was a success, anticipation was high for day two as Last Great Dreamers started the day’s rock fest. With their take on glam rock, they opened up to a bleary-eyed crowd for me their pop rock got Sunday off to a meandering start and the weakest band so far. Next up were Hand Of Dimes full of Welsh verve and pizazz as both singer and front man Nev MacDonald got the early birds rocking through the drizzle and Sunday morning mist nothing was going to dampen this festival. This is rock music that warms your rocky heart and soul and the first and only harmonica of the festival thanks to Neil Garland the keyboard player and fellow ex. SKIN member. This is a band that understands space between the chords, the timing was superb and layers of sound certainly kick starting the day. Toseland were up next and the first technical gremlins hit the stage crew, quickly dealt with and the live music was back on stage. James Toseland, may have left the adrenalin-fueled world of motorbike racing but he still packs an adrenaline-fueled vocal punch. James has surrounded himself with a band that enhances his vocal prowess playing with energy and excitement. The set was the highlight pf the festival for many and Toseland certainly won new fans after this performance.
Today, Welsh weather reverted to type, the sun was shrouded in mist, interspersed with drizzle and rain. That did nothing to dampen the festival audience spirits. Steelhouse in its sixth year is growing in size and the reputation is based on the music not the weather.
The stage was now set for Raveneye, and we were in for some guitar fireworks from Oli Brown. He may have started out his career as a blues guitarist, but this young man certainly knows how to rock and put on a show. Including not missing a note as he is paraded around the stage on the shoulders of bassist Aaron Spiers. Raveneye’s set was animated and the music superb with the vestiges of his blues career a pick on his thumb and a shining sapphire blue guitar.
There was no doubt that the excitement around the next out was equivalent for a headliner. Who? The Dead Daisies. Why? Their sound is stunning, awesome, they are a live band that excites with superb melodies, and fantastic vocals. The Dead Daises connect to your rocking heart and soul the music flows through your veins full of electric brilliance and spark. This is Rock n’ Roll that makes you want to scream, shout out loud and laugh with pure delight. The latest member is Doug Aldrich who fits into the Daisy gang perfectly. John Corabi, on vocals, fronts this charismatic group and is given the room to develop the lyrics and have fun. We are taken back to the seventies and forward to now as they blend the sounds, whilst delivering their re-takes of classics. The rhythm section powers through the rock with the animated and flamboyant Marco Mendoza on bass and drummer Brian Titchy and rhythm guitarist David Lowy. The festival was on fire with excitement as the set sadly drew to a close many just wanted them to play on as for them The Dead Daisies were the band of the festival.
The programme moved on with Hey! Hello!, we were in for some noisy pop-rock with Ginger Wildheart, The Rev and two women Ai on drums and new singer up front they were fun and the pop rock contrasted to The Dead Daisies who are never an easy band to follow. Just as everyone had given up on being dry and seeing the sun the crowds rolled away asTerrorvision hit the stage. They have a distinctive lively rock sound with elements of rap, glam and the late eighties tonal context. Terrorvision are definitely the marmite band of the weekend, causing many a debate between the fans and those who just don’t quite get the band. The fans were treated to a set that captured rock they delight in.
Now for the finale, the skies once again darkened the lights shone as The Darkness bought 2016 Steelhouse to a close. The Darkness rewarded the fans for waiting for them to play as the rock-pop theme of the last three acts was maintained. Jason and The Darkness provided an uplifting and rousing finale to the festival.
A big thank you to the organisers Max and Lee and the phalanx of volunteers who kept the bands happy back stage and the whole event organized, the sound crews, and security. Then a special award should go to the mighty Darren Redick from Planet Rock for carrying out the MC role, stopping and talking to many who stop him as he wanders around the festival.
Every band performed at the top of their game, bringing live music energy to the festival. Bluesdoodles standout acts were opening band Bigfoot and Von Hertzen Brothers, both new bands for us. Then we really enjoyed Tax The Heat another young band going places, The Answer, Blues Pills and Raveneye. The top band of the weekend just has to be the effervescent The Dead Daisies.
Sunburn and Rust combined for Steelhouse Glory 2016, for me The Dead Daisies should have been the headliners. But that said what a fantastic two days of rock energy and music high up a mountain via a dirt road. Roll on 2017 when we will be back up the mountain. Make sure you keep the Crepe stall they were perfect.