Guitarist Diaries: The Answer @ LG Arena, Birmingham, 23/4/2009
If you’re an up-and-coming rock band, have paid a hefty portion of your dues and your second album is being hailed as one of the best of the year, which tour would you choose to be support act on? Which would give you the best exposure to like-minded fans, yet also be a real highpoint of your career so far?
For Northern Irish band The Answer, the...um...answer is the same as that which the rest of us would suggest: AC/DC’s Black Ice trek.
Thing is, for the four-piece, the dream came true...
“Hello Birmingham!” roars singer and Robert Plant-deadringer Cormac Neeson from the gi-normous stage at Brum’s LG Arena. “We’re The Answer from the north of Ireland and we have only one piece of business with you lovely people tonight; to rock!”
And they do...and so do we.
Cormac getting ready to rock...
This is final night, on this leg at least, of AC/DC’s Black Ice 2009 world tour and The Answer have been opening the evening for what seems like ages.
Guitarist Paul Mahon cuts a slight figure as he cranks riff after riff from his wall of Marshalls, but then so do messers Malcolm and Angus Young, and unlike many so-called smaller bands, all three mobile members (including bassist Micky Waters) work the stage effortlessly.
Paul Mahon's rig backstage...before the madness
And on stage, with one of AC/DC's Wizard heads as a replacement...
Before showtime, we spoke to the ultra-friendly guitarist, who showed us around his gear before inviting us on-stage to enjoy a two-tune soundcheck, during which one of Paul's heads blew a fuse, requiring Angus Young's tech Takumi (who we met here...) to drag up one of AC/DC's Wizard tops as a replacement..
They were a little apprehensive as they’re being forced to use a different drummer - full-time tub-thumper James Heatley has damaged a bone in his left hand, and so has sat the last couple of gigs out – but there are no dramas to speak of, and the set proper goes without a hitch. Smiles all round, then.
Tuning: the base of all great players...
We also took our video crew to document Paul’s gear tour, and we’ll be bringing the footage to an issue of Guitarist very soon.
Paul's ready to go...
30 minutes after the band leaves the stage, AC/DC explode into action to play what is the loudest gig I’ve ever been to – click here to read Rob Laing’s review, or click here to see what sister mag Rhythm thought of it all.
All shots in focus - Martin Holmes
All blurred - Simon Bradley
AC/DC - Unknown, but used with respect and thanks (C)