Live Review: The Answer - Birmingham
17th March 2023
Support: Oli Brown and the Dead Collective
Words: Cat Finch
Photos: Tim Finch
It’s been a long time since The Answer have crossed our paths, a quick flick through the memory banks reveals it was November 2017 when they supported Mr Big on these shores. This week they released ‘Sundowners’, their first album in seven years and follow it up on release day with a very special show at Birmingham’s historic O2 Institute.
Opening the evening are the dual guitar and drummer trio of Oli Brown and the Dead Collective. The smoke-filled room sets the atmosphere as the threesome take to the stage. Oli Brown himself bathed in shadows as the dark layers of rock sprout forth. Through the opening ‘Father’ and ‘Everything You Want’ their style stands out, classic rock with a darker side. Lacking a bass, as they do, you’d expect there to be a missing element to their sound but somehow there isn’t. The music has a menacing backdrop that keeps you enthralled. At times through ‘Heard It All Before’ there’s even the hint of a brass element in the sound, not that any such players appear on stage, it’s a unique take on the classic rock genre.
Whilst this is Oli Browns show, he introduces the band as ‘The Dead Collective’, no one entity stands before the rest. The outfit is ably completed by the busiest guitarist in classic rock, Sam Wood - also of Black Star Riders and Wayward Sons - and the beast Wayne Proctor on drums. If you are looking for a different take to the classic rock genre, with The Dead Collective you have got it.
Today is the day The Answer return in more ways than one. As previously mentioned, the band release their first album for seven years, ‘Sundowners’ today, they also return to Birmingham for the first time in aeons. And not only that, today these Irish rockers also celebrate St. Patricks day. It’s quite the combo for a party!
The venue here in Digbeth is packed to the rafters by the time the band come on, and as a first in rock and roll circles the band appear five minutes ahead of schedule. Who else can name a band who have been on stage early!?
The early off just gets the party started quicker and opening with ‘Keep Believin’ from their 2006 debut album gets the fans moving right away. This leads into ‘Blood Brothers', taken from the aforementioned ‘Sundowners’ album and shows how well the early material melds with their newer work.
Paul Mahon’s guitar work intricately weaves stories in the audiences mind whilst they rock the night away but it’s frontman Cormac Neeson who grabs their attention, the Northern Irish answer to Steven Tyler; his style, his presence, his prowess is on point.
More than half of tonight’s set is taken from the days new album, indeed the majority of the new album gets an airing, showing not only just how good the material is, but how proud the band are in it!
Intertwined with the bands greatest hits, this makes for an evening of pure rock fury that no one will forget any time soon. As the set closes with ‘Preachin’ and the fans enter the cold Birmingham night with it ringing in their ears this is an evening we won’t forget anytime soon!