These days a tour of the UK usually consists of about three, four, maybe five dates max. So Kudos goes to the rabble rousing Rockers, The Answer, for naming their trek round the lesser visited towns and cities of this country The Road Less Travelled. The tour-date packed t-shirts at the merch stall took me back to the days when Kerrang! used to be filled with adverts for bands plying their trade round maybe thirty, or forty different venues in an attempt to spread their sounds and while The Answer maybe aren't taking things quite that far, this is already the band's second circuit of the UK to promote their excellent New Horizon album.
However before we got to the main event, The King Lot strode confidently on stage and while this West Lothian based three-piece may well have been last minute additions to tonight's bill due to the late withdrawal of Fake Club, you'd never have known it. In fact they were the perfect fit, for while their Bluesy Rock 'n' Roll cool was maybe a tinge more commercial than The Answer, the big riffs, classy three part vocals and catchy choruses were tailored made for this audience. A slow reaction from the crowd built to a hit of enthusiasm as the trio worked their way towards a climax of the excellent "Bang Your Drum", although "Addicted" and "As They Burn" weren't far behind. With a full length album due for release in the not too distant future, The King Lot are a band well worth keeping an eye on.
Keeping an eye on The Answer frontman Cormac Neeson, well, that's another matter altogether, the mass of hair and sweat that he becomes through handclaps, booty shaking, microphone gyrating and foot stomping, almost enough to hold the attention on its own. That his mad cavorting convulsions are the result of the three man Heavy Rockin' Blues machine behind him, well that's just makes his uncontrollable enthusiasm all the more irresistible. Unsurprisingly, even though it is only a New Horizon album bonus track, "The Road Less Travelled" got things under way and while drummer James Heatley would joke after the show that he 'laughed out loud on a few occasions as he and his band-mates shook off a little down-time rust', The Answer sounded immediately like a band firing on all six. "New Horizon" hit hard, bassist Micky Waters laying down the bottom end law with even more authority than he does on record, before "Dead Of Night" reminded us that the 2009 album Everyday Demons was also an impressive little monster. Not renowned for being Scotland's Rock capital (Glasgow owns that thrown), the healthy Edinburgh turn-out gave a great account of themselves, responding to every demand from Neeson to clap, sing, howl and worship at the Blues Rock alter, as "Speak Now" brought us once more bang up to date, before "Under The Sky" revisited the debut, Rise, to display the promise the band illustrated right from their beginnings; Neeson adding fine harmonica as Mahon, Heatley and Waters jammed sublimely, although (thankfully) not self-indulgently.
Even though the mix was a little bass heavy, guitarist Paul Mahon got plenty of opportunities to display his undoubted finesse, firing out a mix of stinging solos, meaty riffs and subtle motifs at will; stretching things out when the mood took him, going for the jugular when least expected - "Concrete" being a prime example. A cool, boogie laden Rory Gallagher cover "Cradle Rock" merely built on what had come before, gaining a huge ovation in the process, before cleverly with the tempo almost at fever pitch, a slowed down version of the wonderful "Nowhere Freeway" eased the foot off the pedal ever so slightly, the gradual re-raising of the pace leading masterfully into the shout-along "Spectacular". The song may be a simple formula of, create the groove, infuse it with an oft repeated one word title and then shove as much energy up its ass as you can; Neeson asking at the song's close if anyone might know what it was called...? He'd only sung the word 'Spectacular' about three hundred and sixty two times in the last three minutes....! - but man does it work! "Memphis Water" then cooled the flames once more, the easy yet unmistakable grind causing many a middle aged "gentleman" to squirm in an unseemly manner, before "Come Follow Me" stood confidently at the plate and drove the final song ball out of the park.
That set-closing homerun could have placed the encore bar too high, but an easy going "Comfort Zone" got the whole floor moving yet again, before Cormac insisted - as he does - that we all kneel down for his Rock 'n' Roll "Preachin'"; ending the show as only The Answer can.
This Northern Irish four-piece have rightly found many plaudits coming their way via their latest, and superb, New Horizon album. However it's on stage that they truly and undoubtedly come alive, all four members of the band allowed time in the spotlight, none of them abusing it; instead laying the foundation for another captivating jam, or gyrating groove capable of knocking everyone sideways - again! Tonight was no exception and while The Answer may well be on the road less travelled, performances as good as this one meant everybody in attendance felt rewarded for venturing a little off the beaten track.