What do you get when you mix a large white wine, a pint of cider, a pre-gig Guinness and…Kia Ora? The answer is the most uplifting, endearing, entertaining and unique live experience money can buy.
Variously billed as Beautiful Curse Unplugged, An Evening With The Quireboys, Mics Off And Spike’s On (ok, that one’s made up), this acoustic take on one of British rock n roll’s best loved back catalogues is a cracking night out.
Without wanting to give the game away before tomorrow’s homecoming gig at Newcastle’s Cluny – the final show of an incredibly successful tour – the heady mix of cheeky banter, classic tunes, heartwarming nostalgia and belting new material is a bona fide winner.
Warmed up by the excellent Curran, and played out in front of a boisterous crowd at the magical Voodoo Rooms, it was little wonder guitarist Paul Guerin labelled it the best night of the tour to date. Not one to dish out false platitudes for a cheap round of applause, the straight-talking boy from Blyth genuinely meant every word.
Spike might have missed the soundcheck but he hit just about everything else bang on: the mood, the high notes and the pin-sharp delivery of the reassuringly predictable one-liners. A masterclass in performance art, it suited the genial Geordie to a tee.
Perhaps faux pop metallers cum cheesy comedians Steel Panther should take note. If – and it’s a great big if – the Quireboys’ charming on-stage patter is pre-rehearsed then it’s cooked to perfection. If not – and it’s difficult to imagine Spike remembering his coat, the lyrics and as his funniest lines – then this show’s the epitome of band chemistry at its natural best.
Stagecraft like this is a lost art. The camaraderie and bonhomie that underpinned a memorable gig can’t be manufactured in a matter of months. This was a show reflecting the friendship and trust borne out of this line-up’s decade on the road with straight men Guy ‘Griff’ Griffin and Keith Weir providing the perfect foil for the Quireboys’ North Eastern wags.
It will come as no surprise if it’s all ramped up another notch in Newcastle with a partisan home crowd driving this canny quartet forward. But Edinburgh was treated to something very special indeed.
Mixing live standards – Seven O’Clock, There She Goes Again and I Don’t Love You Anymore simply can’t be omitted – with some rare gems, it was unwise to forgo a minute. Nip to the gents, prop up the bar, chat to your mate and you risked missing another fine tale or the latest acoustic masterclass from Griffin and Guerin.
Weir, meanwhile, thrives in an intimate environment with the bass turned off. Drowned out during his cameo for Def Leppard at the Download festival a few years back (an appearance Spike recalls with boyish glee), the popular Ulsterman proved his status as the ace in the Quireboys’ pack with a jaw-dropping display of peerless tinkling in front of the Scottish faithful.
Live music just doesn’t get any better. If you get the chance beg, borrow or steal a ticket for tomorrow’s tour-ending Cluny party. It’ll be a blast.