@HRH AOR, North Wales, March 10 2016

Rarely has Spike sounded quite so soulful as he did delivering a passionate rendition of the brilliant ballad I Don’t Love You Anymore. A brave choice to kick off the encore, it offered the evergreen Quireboys’ frontman a timely opportunity to remind the masses that he still boasts much more in his armoury than raspy rock and roll anthems.

Sounding better than ever – and buoyed by a bumper crowd loving every minute – the endearing Geordie strode on to stage an hour earlier wearing a pristine white suite set off with a red shirt and matching rose. It was the look of a man who meant business and right now business is good for one of Britain’s best loved and most underrated (by the critics, at least) bands.

This was the model set for a festival crowd. New album St Cecilia And The Gypsy Soul needs to be heard and the pounding, brooding, blues-soaked Gracie B was slotted into a show that spanned three decades of quality songwriting.

The hits kept coming – Hey You and Seven O Clock never sound dated – but not for the first time Mona Lisa Smiled stole the show. Spike appeared almost embarrassed to admit there was more to one of the band’s classic compositions than booze, women and cars but surely there’s no shame in celebrating substance over style.

Strip away, for a moment, the Quireboys’ reputation for bringing the party – which they do – and the band’s most compelling line-up has matured into a crack team primed for another tilt at the top. It might be a quarter of a century since they celebrated a number two record but make no mistake – these are their very best years.