The Quireboys have forged a reputation as one of British rock n roll’s favourite party acts – both on and off the stage.
And the band’s relaxed approach to the business of making music has always been part of their ubiquitous appeal and enduring charm.
Frontman Spike is the happy-go-lucky ringmaster, playing on his love for a drink and instant connection with the crowd. Normally that’s never more evident than when the Quireboys play to a packed hometown venue.
But this night was different.
There was still the banter, made-to-measure setlist, beaming grins and unwavering support from the floor.
Spike still revelled in his role as the entertainer-in-chief – rolling out the same old lines guaranteed to get the usual laughs.
But – and whisper it quietly – this was the most professional Quireboys performance in years. Slick, energised and incredibly tight it cast the band in an unexpected new light. Driven yet never dispassionate, it seems the core quartet behind a sustained revival have found the perfect mix to move forward.
Clearly enthused by new album Beautiful Curse (and why not such is the brilliance of the band’s best album since Bitter Sweet And Twisted), Spike sang his heart out. Paul Guerin laughed in the face of the gremlins playing havoc with his initial guitar sound and Guy Griffin once again emerged as the Quireboys’ go-to guy – a model of consistency and exuding calm. On the keys Keith Weir produced the familiar melodies that provide this band with their USP.
Rhythm sections may come and go (there have even been changes during this tour with The Union’s Dave McCluskey replacing Pip Mailing due to the latter’s back problems) but the Quireboys’ four musketeers guarantee a memorable night – every night.
Opening up with the underplayed classic Black Mariah and featuring Toon favourite Mayfair, the magnificent Mona Lisa Smiled and a slew of the band’s early 90s hits, this was a setlist rich in nostalgia.
But many of the awe-inspiring highlights came courtesy of Beautiful Curse. The title track – dedicated to the recently married Mrs Guerin – ranks alongside the Quireboys’ very best material while Diamond And Dirty Stones saw Spike visibly up his game.
Chain Smokin’ was transformed in the live arena and Twenty Seven Years brought the band together as one – McCluskey and bass player Nick Mailing included – to suggest its place in future shows is assured. Finishing off with the light-hearted Sex Party might have been a nod to the Quireboys’ less serious side but this assured performance was all about a new era of purpose and ambition.
Support Bonafide boast both in spades. Signed to the same label as the headline act and a regular foil for the Quireboys in Scandinavia, the well-drilled Swedes won over a whole new army of fans partial to AC/DC, Thin Lizzy and UFO. Frontman Pontus Snibb might boast one of the finest names in rock but he’s also adept at delivering gravel-toned vocals, hard rock riffs and the odd cheeky one-liner.
New album Bombo is an absolute belter and, on this evidence, tailor made for the live arena. Pledging to return to the UK in March, the Bonafide boys will be welcomed back with open arms.