It was great to see Northern Ireland’s finest, The Answer in Birmingham on St. Patrick’s day, giving us the perfect party night. A year which started with the massive pain in the arse of having their gear stolen when preparing for this tour. Their new album, Sundowners, is a tour de force return for the band, and tonight marked a blockbusting return to the stage.
The Answer / Oli Brown & The Dead Collective
O2 Institute Birmingham – 17 March 2023
Words and Photography: Andy Shaw
The perfect band for a St. Patrick’s night party at the Institute are the one and only The Answer, on tour to promote their new album Sundowners, which came out on the same day.
The lights go down, and the lads come on stage with singer Cormac Neeson, a striking figure with long grey locks underneath his fedora hat. The set is a mix of very old and very new, kicking off with Keep Believin’ from their first album, Rise. Then the first of the new songs Blood Brother.
They are in fine form, with Paul Mahon showing what an amazing guitarist he his. Tonight is next, then another new song, Oh Cherry, before Neeson says, “I have been around a few bars. You Birmingham people certainly love to celebrate St Patrick’s Day, and I have heard lots of men singing Cranberries songs rather badly.”
The packed Institute are loving the show and are clapping and singing their hearts out. Nowhere Freeway, followed by a trio of songs from Sundowners, starting with the title track, then All Together and California Rust.
The Answer are really on fire now, with Michael Waters on Bass and James Heatley on Drums absolutely smashing it. The crowd love the next couple of songs, Spectacular from Horizons and Come Follow Me from Rise.
The set ends with two more new songs, Always Alright and Want You To Love Me then they leave the stage. Of course, they return, starting the encore with Livin’ On The Line and finishing with a blockbusting version of Preachin’. Wow, it’s great to have these guys back and rockin’. Long may it continue.
Oli Brown & The Dead Collective
Openers tonight are Oli Brown & The Dead Collective, who are creating waves with their live performances and brand of blues rock. They kick off with Father, then Everything You Want. They are showing what brilliant songs they have, and the crowd warms to them immediately.
The trio consist of Brown on guitar, Sam Wood (Black Star Riders and Wayward Sons) playing second guitar with no dedicated bassist on this tour plus Wayne Proctor on drums. Then we have the three songs on their debut ep – Prelude – which are Sinking Ship, Haunted and Heard It All Before. All are stunning songs showing the virtuosity of this trio.
The Institute crowd are loving the show and show their appreciation after every song. Their 45-minute set ends with Your Love and Home Sweet Home.
“I’m going to give it my all, and I love it,” Oli Brown said in a recent interview with MetalTalk. “It’s everything to me, and I can see it working. But I’m also OK if it doesn’t, and I don’t want to be OK if it doesn’t. I want to remove that from my headspace. That’s why for me, these shows have a lot of weight.”
He need not have worried. It’s a great start to the evening from another of the up-and-coming blues rock bands we have currently in the UK.