The Answer + The Picturebooks + Bad Touch
March 11, 2015
After a few gorgeously intimate acoustic shows around York recently, the time was right to blow the cobwebs away with a classic pulse-pounding, headbanging rock show.
The Picturebooks had well and truly gusted them away with typhoon-like force – along with most of my bodily hair and items of clothing – within their first reverb-drenched slab of chord.
The be-bearded German duo have recently been playing shows with Death From Above 1979, and seriously they merit comparison.
At bang on half seven, they took to the stage with a crowd of around 20 to play to, and proceeded to smash the hell out of their instruments – guitar, drums and voice – with an insane, senseless passion that was just awe-inspiring.
Percussionist Philipp Mirtschink was literally spanking his vast tomtoms with his palms and ridiculous oversized beaters, throwing himself across his kit like a certain Mr Moon on something a little stronger than Lucozade, whilst frontman Fynn Claus Grabke prowled around, extracting groaning, wailing licks from a reluctantly compliant axe.
By the third song they were both utterly dripping with sweat, and were they headlining rather than on first so would have been most of the audience.
Their monolithic riffage and astonishing stage presence – Grabke doing a Hendrix point two by screaming vocals into his guitar pickups, giving them a remarkable echo-y effect and looking fricking cool while doing it – marks their card as serious ones to watch.
I doubt they’ll be supporting at this level much longer.
Slightly more melodic quintet Bad Touch played next – they were good but not great.
They began as a pub covers band and you could tell. Their powerful sound and jeans-wearing look hinting that they’d dropped through a loophole from America circa 1973, though mildly camp lead vocalist Stevie Sparrows was a true mish-mash of styles, a crossbreed of Justin Hawkins and Robert Plant with a dashing of Guido Fawkes in there as well with his truly twirlable moustache.
Their most fun song was definitely Good On Me, a substantially Stones-like stomper with a classic tongue-in-cheek glam lyric to boot.
Sparrows informed the audience with a wink and a slap on the bum of a conversation he had with a pretty lady in a bar, “Tell me where you buy your jeans, do they come in a size 14?” which was almost too enjoyable for me and, I assume, most of the men in the now near-full Fibbers.
Then came the headliners.
Cormac Neeson’s sandpapered, high-pitched vocals matched his hip-twitching stage moves as The Answer drove their bass-heavy opening track Long Live The Renegades forward, undeniably putting a smile on the face as well as a stomp in the foot of all in attendance.
New tracks like Red, with a riff reminiscent to me of The Man Who Sold The World-period Bowie, demonstrated that their knack for writing solid pop-rock songs remains undiminished, with their latest album somewhat impressively getting into the top 20 – not bad at all for a decade-and-a-half old band from County Down.
They were masters of the textural jump as well, lifting instantly from the bare bones of songs into full band performances, a hugely exciting and skilful thing to pull off if done right, which The Answer accomplished with serious panache.
There was a real treat reserved for the midpoint of their set for the diehards in the audience, of which there were a notable number – a live debut for new track Aristocrat, which fitted right in immediately with its angular, bassy riff and banshee vocals, though it has to be said Neeson’s random peeps on a harmonica added rather little.
Upon leaving Fibbers later that night, I found myself unable to hear properly out of my left ear which lasted for the following 24 hours.
I think it’s fair to say I was expecting a good rock show, but I came away with the mark of a great one.