The other week Oli Brown And The Dead Collective released an EP called “Prelude”. It was superb. What we didn’t know at the time was that the title was apt. Lets turn to the Oxford English Dictionary, shall we? It says a prelude is: “an action or event serving as an introduction to something more important.”

Watch this band live and tell me that’s not spot on.

The “collective” here includes Sam (Wayward Sons, Black Star Riders) Wood, and Wayne (drummed with everyone and produced even more) Proctor and the sound is – perhaps self-evidently – a different beast to the EP. Brown and Wood trade on some of the choice stuff from Brown’s varied back catalogue, and with Proctor holding it all down, they can really let go.

Even the “Prelude” stuff sounds markedly heavier – or perhaps rawer is a better word? – “Haunted” is a great example. There’s a quiet, sort of prog section, before the two guitarists kick back in and this light and shade is done to stunning effect. So much so that when it comes to “Heard It All Before”, its tempting to say you really haven’t. Not like this.

“Your Love” changes tempo, if not mood, given its “your love is a noose” hook and there’s an extended version of “Home Sweet Home” which showcases the harmonies of this band once more, not to mention the skill.

Oli Brown is content to let his music do his talking for him, he doesn’t speak to the audience until around halfway through, and only then as a sort of afterthought. But the thing is this: music this good doesn’t just “talk” for him. It shouts. Very loudly. And what it says is this: Oli Brown And The Dead Collective are one of the most promising bands around.

It had been four and a half years since I’d seen the Answer. They’d been Special Guests to Mr Big in November 2015. And if you’d given me a million guesses as to what they were going to open their second solo show in lord knows how long with I wouldn’t have come up with “Keep Believin’” a track from the re-release of their debut album.  No argument that it is a fine song, but it is a little off the beaten track.

Yet, on closer inspection, its perfect here. Speaking, as it does, of hope, of belief and of positivity. It’s impossible to watch The Answer play this gig – the second on their first headlining tour in a long, long time – and not feel those things, and moreover, it’s perfect because this is nothing like the show you thought it would be.

This all happens on the day the band release their first album in almost seven years. “Sundowners” is brilliant, too, but its evident that the band believe in it totally. They play a massive chunk of it. The single “Blood Brother” and the standout moments like “Oh Cherry” are both tossed out early and the pair have the perfect Answer mixture of blues, classic rock and something that was all their own.

They all seem reinvigorated by the break, but especially Paul Mahon. His guitar playing is sensational, but never better than on “Under The Sky”, where they lock into a groove and it all makes sense, but more than that, it’s like they’ve never been away.

There’s a dip back to the past for “Nowhere Freeway” , but a forward thinking set is underlined by having the new album’s title track as its centrepiece. A month ago or so, the band had their gear stolen not far from here as they rehearsed. Neeson talks about how they are over it and invites us all to shake off the “bad karma” that follows us about. That’s the vibe throughout.

James Heatley’s drums drive “All Together”, “California Rust” is another new one that has fitted right in, “Spectacular” is, but crucially, it also has that line about ‘it ain’t got a heart if it ain’t got a soul” and that exemplifies all of these, in truth.

That was part of a couple of “old favourites” as Neeson has put it, rounded out by “Come Follow Me”, but it’s still newbies “Always Alright” and “Want You To Love Me” that close the set.

This being St Patricks Day and all there’s a toast and an Irish folk song before “Livin’ On The Line” is the last new song played. This comeback gig ends with Cormac Neeson meeting his people, as it were, and leaving the stage for a joyous “Preachin’”. Something of a recital feel, but one that says only that The Answer are back and given the atmosphere of it all, as the congregation meets in synergy with the band, they are back for good.

This was a brave show. It would have been easy to turn up, do a Greatest Hits and go home again, but The Answer were always about more. The 2023 version of them, though, has the experience to do it on their own terms.

More From Author


Popular Posts

Latest Gig Reviews

Latest Music Reviews


Band Of The Day