An Audience With Spike @The Cluny Newcastle, May 27 2021

Dean Martin. Bonnie Tyler. Lord Lambton. And Jeremy Beadle. 

Just some of the wild and wonderful namechecks punctuating a memorable storyteller’s night.

Spike’s been there, done that and bought the tee shirt.

And he’s been there and done it with a whole host of fascinating folk.

There are the people he freely admits that he shouldn’t really mention. But he does.

And there are the stories that he says he shouldn’t ever tell. But he tells them anyway.

That world famous A-lister who’s never paid for anything…but almost paid for that.

The infamous ex who destroyed a posh hotel room after one of the best nights of Spike’s life.

And the one about his best mate writing his biggest hit in the bath.

These wacky tales and more make for the perfect return to live entertainment after months of necking back cans of cider and binging on Netflix (that’s us, not Spike — he doesn’t know how to work Netflix).

An Audience With Spike reveals hidden talents

Billed as ‘An intimate evening of music and stories from his colourful life in rock’n’roll’, An Audience With Spike does what it says on the tin.

And it offers unparalleled joy after a period of unrivalled misery.

It’s honest, endearing, laugh out loud and occasionally reflective.

And best of all? It shines a light on a talent that’s often lost when Spike’s spearheading a Quireboys show cranked up to 10.

Who knew the bandana-wearing bard could play guitar like this?

Ok, so Guy Griffin and Paul Guerin don’t need to look over their shoulders just yet. 

Spike’s no Carlos Santana or Steve Vai.

But there’s no reason why the Quireboys couldn’t go full Iron Maiden and unleash a triple guitar assault on their next UK tour.

Spike calls the tune at hometown Cluny show

Of course, plugging in his guitar and wielding a plectrum are still core skills Spike’s yet to acquire.

And yet once he masters the basics, his ability to eke out a tune is mightily impressive.

Strumming away on a beautiful axe donated by occasional touring buddy and long-time friend Tyla, this is Spike like you’ve never seen — or heard — him before.

The assured musicianship is one thing.

But that rasp of a vocal has never sounded better, lubricated by lashings of ‘apple juice’ and the odd fruity vape.

Seriously, it seems as if lockdown has done wonders for one of the defining voices of the last 35 years.

And when he’s not telling tales, Spike’s taking his audience on a delightful journey of musical discovery.

There’s the handful of Quireboys cuts — I Don’t Love You Anymore is tailor-made for the intimate setting — but this show is no easy take on the day job.

In fact, Spike pushes the envelope and digs deep as he takes an altogether braver direction.

The Frankie Miller classic Darlin’ is a bona fide crowd pleaser.

But it’s one of the Scottish singer songwriter’s own tunes that emerges as the standout track in a stunning set.

Spike’s refreshing take on Raining Whiskey (covered by Kid Rock a few years back) is awash with emotion and rich in authenticity.

But that’s this 90-minute show all over.

A tour inspired by a series of DIY lockdown streams has been booked to coincide with the release of the CD/DVD collection Spike’s Late Night Songbook.

And 7/11 Roses — featured on that 14-song set dedicated to Spike’s mam — allows the genial Geordie to truly go to town.

Have a drink with Spike and have faith in Christian

Talking of going to town and Have A Drink With Me, taken from solo album It’s A Treat To Be Alive, always strikes a chord with Spike’s hometown crowd.

Lindisfarne’s Run For Home, The Animals’ House Of The Rising Sun and a set-closing rendition of Blaydon Races guarantee equally fervent reactions when he’s back on Tyneside.

Of course, there’s the super-consistent yin to Spike’s occasionally wayward yang.

And without the calming cool of Christian Heilmann there would be no audience with Spike.

Shark Island’s bass player is also a mean six stringer and the two former LA flatmates bounce off each other like long lost frat house buddies back in the saddle.

An intuitive partnership is perfectly suited to the fluid setting of an acoustic show and the friends reunited are having a blast.

When all’s said and done nobody really wants to leave The Cluny’s Covid-friendly basement — where the beer is delivered to the table and the stories never stop.

It’s been a long time coming. 

But when live music’s this good then it’s just about worth the wait.