The Quireboys @Newcastle Riverside, May 14 2019

It wasn’t quite hello and goodnight. But Hello confirmed another good night for the Quireboys’ faithful. Eleven years after making its presence felt on the Homewreckers & Heartbreakers album, a song perfectly suited to the acoustic environment never sounded better. A perfect guitar tone, Keith Weir’s understated keys and a sparkle in Spike’s eyes ensured one of the band’s least heralded tracks threatened to steal the show. But the serious contenders came thick and fast.

Dancing In Paris, from new long player Amazing Disgrace, emerged as a natural fit for the Quireboys unplugged and Mona Lisa Smiled served as a timely reminder of this criminally underrated band’s ability to write gloriously evocative rock and roll standards. Then there was the song this set could never do without: I Don’t Love You Anymore doesn’t age and doesn’t come across as any less poignant almost 30 years down the line.

‘Guy Griffin’s is this long…’

Spike, Weir, Guy Griffin and Paul Guerin are old hands at the stripped down, up close and personal set but the amiable quartet have rarely appeared so comfortable. A Newcastle show, played out in front of a slew of familiar faces, might have helped but the sense of harmony on stage mirrored the party atmosphere off it. Whether Spike really forgot the odd first line, or occasionally required a prompt when it was time to showcase the band’s new material, is anyone’s guess. Nobody cared. The refreshing honesty at the heart of these national treasures has always been key to their enduring appeal.

Under subtle lights and benefitting from a pin sharp mix, this proved to be the perfect opportunity to experience the genuine songwriting craft of a band that continues to go from strength to strength. If the permanent addition of drummer Dave McCluskey has played a key role in taking the Quireboys to the next level, then the absence of a rhythm section allows for a welcome change in perspective and a shift in focus.

Angel of the North

It works so well. McCluskey will be back behind the kit later this year – and will be welcomed back with open arms – but a Quireboys acoustic show is something to be savoured. It’s here to stay and that’s something to celebrate at a time when over-production, auto tune and shoe-gazing indifference threatens to ruin the organic live experience.

Images By Adam Kennedy