Live Review: The Answer and These Wicked Rivers – Dingwalls, London – 20 June 2024



Warming up for their performances at the Loverocks Beer and Music festival on the Saturday, These Wicked Rivers and The Answer joined forces for a night at Dingwalls in Camden.

Opening the evening was the excellent These Wicked Rivers. It doesn’t seem to matter how small the performance area is, they will somehow still manage to get three signature standard lamps on stage, amongst the five of them and all their equipment! I wonder how many standard lamps they own? Starting the set with Force of Nature from their second album of the same name, released a few months ago, it’s performed with a heavier sound than the recorded version. Then it’s straight into an old favourite with Shine On and I’m liking the heavier performance of this song too. The audience is now firmly engaged, and with assurance from the band that we’re going to have a great time tonight they proceed to play a mixture of eight songs from both albums. Black Gold is introduced as the first single released from that latest album and the audience is loving it. The biggest cheer so far goes to Evergreen and then every song thereon is met with the same ‘We’re loving this’ applause and cheers. The rest of the eight song playlist is as follows: When the War is Won a beautiful ballad about getting through difficult times; Testify where we are treated to a long instrumental intro, and then the penultimate song is The Family. Boos ensue at this point as nobody wants them to finish. As John sings ‘We are the salvation society – this is our family now,’ we did indeed feel like one big family singing and dancing together. Too soon, as always, we reach the closing song, which is the haunting Don’t Pray for Me. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of hearing this one. Although it’s easy to list the songs, they were skilfully complimented and enhanced by wonderful sound and stage lighting. At one point, the main house lights were dimmed and the lamps in the standard lights turned on. (Had anyone considered that they were working pieces of stage props?) This created an atmospheric feeling to the ballads. Personally, I like it when live performances are different from the albums, as it makes the shows more distinct and worth coming out to see. Lots of people have come to see These Wicked Rivers as their main act, as there are many, many t-shirts in support of them. The new album is worth listening to for the songs not played tonight, as well as again enjoying the ones we did hear.

These Wicked Rivers


After a relatively quick stage turnaround it’s time for the headline act. We know they’re about to come on when the PA starts playing Bob Dylan’s …the answer my friend is Blowing in The Wind – clever! The band takes to the stage while this is playing, joined on this tour by keyboard player Cara Bruns, who is the most elegant keyboard player I’ve ever seen. Bob is faded out, Cormac joins them onstage, and The Answer commence their evening with Blood Brother from their latest album Sundowners – OMG it’s loud! After the song we have a little chat about the weather and how The Answer have brought the sunshine to London, although it’s still ‘pissing down in Ireland.’ But isn’t that why it’s so green?! A couple of songs from their back catalogue before we hear the new title track Sundowners which ‘we’re using to shake out the bad vibes, because The Answer don’t do bad vibes, only positive vibes.’ Definitely only positive vibes in the room this evening. The song starts with the harmonica, later replaced by the tambourine as we’re invited to ‘shake it all out.’ Funny story time – they arrived in Camden around lunchtime so went for a walk around the market. They saw many fans wearing The Answer t-shirts, cataloguing a whole history of the band, but when Cormac called out ‘hi’ to a couple of guys wearing The Answer t-shirts they just looked at him blankly!! Maybe they didn’t recognise him without his stage hat, or didn’t have their glasses on, or who knows … they probably realised five seconds after they’d walked away. I hope they went and said hello at the end of the gig!

Anyway, the next new album song is Want You to Love Me, no not that one, but their own very catchy, clap a-long tune. Other stories ensue, including how Paul has flown in from Paris just this afternoon (was probably quicker than coming from the home counties), and how Nick has become their warrior with his show-must-go-on attitude. He refuses to let getting a broken bone in his finger stop him playing, or five days later somehow breaking a bone in his foot doesn’t stop him going onstage. Then finally almost knocking himself out on a fridge door and getting a black eye still doesn’t deter him! Let’s hope that’s his series of “things come in threes” events are done and dusted. The new songs continue with Cold Heart and later No Salvation, interspersed with familiar favourites like Spectacular and Come Follow Me. The encore includes an Irish drinking song about a ship and a reminder to always be kind, drink and be merry. The whole show is full of energy as if the years of not performing have built up a store of adrenaline that has been released on this tour. Cormac is bouncing like a bean and totally engaged in the music and audience the whole time, so much so that he comes to join them for Preachin’ making everyone bend down on their knees and then jumping up together. The musicianship was spot on, and the proverbial roof was lifted.

The Answer are making up for those lost years together, and if this is anything to go by they’re banking it for the future too. Reading the LoveRock festival’s positive comments afterward the event, is seems the Dingwall’s gig did more than warm them up but set them on fire for the occasion!!

The Answer


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