When it comes down to hard work in rock its not necessarily a criteria for what passes for success in this video, fad and fashion driven business. There are rock and metal acts who arrive in the pages of magazines and on to festival stages through manipulation, money and machiavellan management. Those self-same acts usually have one song, and are inevitably one trick ponies.
Thankfully the acts that have longevity, true success and a dedicated fanbase take hard work seriously, and have talent by the shedload. They are the acts that take to the road, turn out albums that are consistent and actually play their instruments. Downpatrick's The Answer are one such act.
Not for them the posing and posturing of the scene; the attempt to garner chart-topping pap; not for them the hairstylists and endorsements from hair gel companies. Instead they take to the road, touring for what amounts to more than half the year, and have an album, Rise, packed with infectous grooves, songs from the heart and damn fine playing.
When The Answer took to the stage of Belfast's Spring & Airbrake on Friday night, they could be excused for being a little jaded. It was their fourth date in Northern Ireland in the last year, and they are looking forward to a lengthy autumn tour of the UK and parts of Europe.
Instead they took to the stage with verve and good natured intensity. Cormac's vocals and stagecraft are continually improving, while Paul's playing has loosened up, showing that he's comfortable in being able to express both the harder edge of The Answer's music as well as the bluesier work-outs.
Before the gig (when blagging autographs for children who couldn't be there) Paul spoke of his influences, naming the late Paul Kossoff amongst them. As well as the blistering runs he is capable of, it is these Free-inspired slower, more soulful solos that shine in what could have been a wall of noise as both fans and band cranked it up.
The entire album was given an airing, naturally, with a b-side or two thrown in to pad out the length of the set. Into the Gutter stood out for it's pace and crowd reaction, while Memphis Water allowed the rhythm section to lay down a solid pattern to counterpoint Paul and Cormac's work out.
And, of course, Always rocked the rafters in the Spring & Airbrake.
The entire set lasted just a tad over 70 minutes, which given that The Answer only have single album out so far is understandable. Those packed into a sold-out venue will, and should, expect The Answer to keep touring, but the imperative must be now to get into the studio soon; using what they have learned on the road to craft an album that will take them to the next level of hard-earned, honestl gained success.
[Can't say any of the above about support act, The Delewares. Stylistically all over the place, half the band looking bored (the female singer could try smiling and engaging the audience once in a while!) and songs that were absent any significant hooks when played live. Only highlight was a drummer who hit the kit as if he was pissed off with the world. Mind you, if I had to play in the Delewares, I'd beat the shit out of the kit too!]