The Answer / Blackwolf Oxford Academy 08-03-14

First up were Blackwolf who we had seen rip the place up with The Temperance Movement last year. Now in support of their debut cd the excellent " The Hunt" that was released last week they came on with the supreme confidence of a band who know they are destined for great things.
Like a mix of Led Zeppelin , AC/DC ,  The Who , Guns N'Roses and Free thrown into a blender with a dash of souls and blues and you have a band that sounds like the classic bands from way back when but also sound current.

Led by the swagger and huge howl of vocalist Scott Sharp, who sounds like a mix of Robert Plant and Myles Kennedy, they played 6 songs from " The Hunt " in their 30 minute slot starting with first single " Mr Maker ".This  includes a superb extended guitar solo from John Greenhill which as you think is stopping, suddenly goes off the scale and shows a real classic feel  and also if they think a song deserves an extra solo well that's what you are going to get. For such a young man his playing is quite superb and shows a talent way beyond his years.

Here is what they played

Mr Maker
Keep Movin' On
Moving Mountains
Black Hole Friend
Sea Of Mercy

With a superb rhythm section of drummer Tom Lennox-Brown Ben Webb on bass and the guitar duo of Greenhill  and the ever moving Angus Young style persona of Jason Cronin there is a lot going on. Second single "Keep Movin' On " keeps the standard high which is another song with a huge riff a superb chorus and groove. A perfect radio song with the sun shining and the roof down.

" Moving Mountains " gives Sharp a chance to show his class before the song develops into a rock monster . My favourite song is the following number " Black Hole Friend " which really gets going around the chorus with huge drums, riff and  chorus before a guitar solo that excels. Every song is destined for classic status all having groove and a real sense of melody.

 " Relief" is another corker of a song with a stop start riff and withy huge drum parts before another excellent guitar solo.

Ending with the up tempo " Sea Of Mercy " with an extended guitar solo towards the end of the song from Greenhill which after a way too brief set left us wanting more as all good support slots should. They promise to return soon and I look forward to seeing them grow and develop into one of the new breed of bands that can lead the way forward.

The Answer are back on the road with a 40 date European tour in the second part of the " New Horizon " tour. I saw them back in October on the boat in Bristol  ( review here  ) and the chance of a second look was a no brainer.

I have loved the band since the release of their debut cd in 2006 and they are now firmly established as one of the UK's top live bands with a thoroughly deserved reputation of a band that give everything they have every night.

An hour and a half show  with a slight change of set that showed 4 changes to October here is what they played over the course of an hour and a half.

New Horizon
The Road Less Travelled
New Day Rising
Speak Now
Under The Sky
Cradle Rock ( Rory Gallagher cover )
Nowhere Freeway
Memphis Water
Come Follow Me
Encores of
Comfort Zone

From our front row perch I believe that they have actually got even better over the last few months. Led by the stage presence of Cormac Neeson they begin with 2 new songs starting with the title track of their latest cd " New Horizon " with its huge riff and groove and the cd bonus track " Road Less Travelled " with it's on the road lyrics are a real statement of intent.

With an excellent sound and light show to back them up this was all about their music and it was eaten up by the crowd which sadly wasn't the sell out it deserved.

" New Day Rising " from the " Revival " cd made a welcome return and seemed to be played a little faster than before.

" Concrete " was again a show highlight with its drum only start by James Heatley then joined by bass  from Micky Waters and then the guitar of Paul Mahon , the way they allow it to build is brilliant. The mid section section with its huge riff is simply jaw dropping.

Following it up with their soon to be released cover of Rory Gallagher's " Cradle Rock " gave Mahon a chance to shine and show off his influences. Again for such a young man he makes it look effortless.

" Nowhere Freeway " is again played with its acoustic beginning which give  Neeson's vocals a chance to take centre stage. The band really need to release their version of this either a studio or preferably live version.

After the huge chorus of recent single " Spectacular " the band really spread their wings on the last 2 songs of the set. The lengthy blues workout of " Memphis Water " was followed by their single from the " Rise " cd " Come Follow Me " which was sang heartily by the crowd and ended with a huge band musical workout with Waters superb bass work to the fore.

 The crowd sang Happy Birthday to Neeson before the band played  " Comfort Zone" and then we ended with the classic " Preachin' " with Neeson at the fore and again getting in  the crowd and getting everyone to kneel for him. Brilliant.

Great to meet all the Blackwolf band afterwards and I got the new cd signed as well as also meeting 3 of the guys from The Answer too ( no Cormac ) and got the new cd signed too.

 A superb night of British rock n'roll. One of the new breed who are destined for greatness and a band that just get better and better and should now be seen as world class.

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