THE Answer are a product of their environment, and that environment is in front of a live, awestruck audience, and there is no more an adulation than they receive in Ahoghill's Diamond Rock Club.
Last night (Saturday 25th January) the quartet of hard rockin' troubadors were on stage kicking the kinks out of their set before heading out on a lengthy 'Road Less Travelled Tour', which as Cormac explains in the interview below will see them play venues that many bands miss out on tour schedules across the UK and Ireland.
He also explains how they are mixing things up, trying new interpretations of songs. Click the man's name to go to the Soundcloud file and hear all the frontman's thoughts ahead of the tour and six-string slinger Paul's thoughts: Cormac
Part of the plans for the tour as Cormac explained is to give local bands exposure and throughout the tour in Northern Ireland and Ireland will see a different support act every night.
Tonight at the Diamond Rock the Screaming Eagles hit the stage as if they had a point to prove - a point that many of the audience know all too well. A commitment to hard rocking blues infused power that has seen them win through on the Highway to Hell challenge which has earned them a prestigious slot at Hard Rock Hell. (Next week the Northern Ireland winners and contestants - The Screaming Eagles, Sinocence, Maverick and Baleful Creed will play at RockD in Limelight 2.)
With début album From the Flames well known to most of the audience, those not already fans of the 'Screagles' were quicky won over. Fight the Fire, Devil in the Dust, and Rock 'n' Roll Soul stood out in a well balanced set.
The key to real hard rock success is to play as if you are in front of a stadium crowd, no matter which stage you are on. The intimate Diamond setting saw Chris's dominant vocals and stage presence soar with Adrian's licks and moves showing a real winning attitude. Nailed down with Ryan and Kyle's rhythm section this was a simply searing show.
Playing to a sold out crowd is nothing new to The Answer, but when it is in a venue such as the Diamond there is a vibrant atmosphere, almost alive with an electric charge reeling across the heads of the crowd as they were awed by Cormac and his fellow rockers.
Kicking off with a surprise version of The Road Less Travelled the set quickly kicked into a high gear with the title track of the album New Horizon, a life affirming piece of excellence that sees almost the entire crowd singing along/.
While this shows was to road test new arrangements and the pace of the set, it also once again showed that the County Down have a lengthy set of material to draw upon, its breadth not diminshing the quality of the material.
However, no matter how great The Answer are on recordings (and they consistently are) they are a band that explode with a beautiful alchemy when they tread the boards. And with a cover of Rory Gallagher's Cradle Rock thrown in it was a night of celebrating the craft that is in all good rock.
With Cormac a cross between a yeti, tigger and the emobdiment of every great singer brought into one superb package, Paul and Micky traded rhythms and licks, with Paul's soloing and freedom to explore new approaches a feature of the show.
James's drums have always been pounding, and as Cormac explained before the show their (see interview above) 'heaviest song' Concrete kicked off with a well-timed drum solo before this slab of heavy rock theatened to shake the Diamond to its foundations as well as most of the village.
A new slower paced Nowhere Highway, the ode to youth that is Spectacular, Under the Sky and Dead of Night all raising the temperature, Memphis Blues was akin to a jam session to allow a short breather for the audience..
But as with everything on a warm-up show something inevitably goes awry - a missing slide for Paul's guitar meant the band's first attempt at Preaching was aborted - but with a storming version of Demon Eyes Cormac's trademark crouch on the floor with the audience still went ahead.
When it seemed the show was all but over, the slide was discovered and Preaching got underway, and every vocal chord in the Diamomd strained to join Cormac as he once again joined the audience in the middle of the floor to round off what was simply a demonstration of just how far The Answer have come. Great people, great musicians, a great performance - the audiences on the 'Road Less Travelled Tour are in for a hard rock treat.