Words and Pictures: Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media
The Quireboys, a band that somehow make you want to start drinking whiskey even if you’re tee total whilst reaching for a pack of Marlboro cigarettes when you’ve never taken a drag in your life. Quite what it is about this band but they epitomise the true rock ‘n roll vision of a working band on the road and when they make you feel as at home as they did at The Forum in London recently, the desire to be one of the lads and subscribe to the excess lifestyle was never stronger.
Thankfully the ‘dull’ in me won over and the cigarettes option was dispatched like a drop kick delivered by Eric Cantona in his prime. The whiskey was substituted for a few pints of the amber nectar and the evening was set for a dream bill with The Quireboys closing out the night playing Homewreckers & Heartbreakers, celebrating it’s tenth anniversary, in full for one time only. If that’s not enough to make you feel old, the band’s debut is close to its 30th anniversary which will be coming around in 2020.
The bill on offer at The Forum before the Quireboys come on stage is an unusual yet glorious mix of styles and genres and makes the whole event with an early kick off feel more like a festival than a gig.
Opening the evening,
Those Damn Crows
With their album Murder and the Motive (a clever play on words if you know what the collective description for a number of crows is) due out the 1st week of October, the band have been hard at work all summer plugging away whenever they get the chance, landing some choice support slots that saw them turn in a great set at Ramblin’ Man Fair and repeat the feat as the first band up. Their motive is a clear desire to play solid, modern, hard rock and boy do they know how to work a crowd especially one that at 6:30pm on a Friday evening isn’t really oiled up enough to respond fast enough or with sufficient energy.
As they rattle through the short set, Shane Greenhall does that front-man thing, you know, the one where they actually entertain you, move around the stage like they own it, nail every note perfectly and make you glad that you turned up in time for the opening band. Yeah, so that happened. For a band that’s about to release their debut album through earache records, they shouldn’t be this good, this professional, this slick. They certainly shouldn’t be an opening act. If you missed them, more fool you. Next time get out of the pub and embrace new music.
Aaron Buchanan & The Cult Classics
Next up a firm favourite. Always guaranteeing a good show and recognising that the bar had been raised with Those Damn Crows, Aaron Buchanan, a man well versed in the art of frontmanship, pulled out all of the stops and would be found, during the set walking across the crowd on people’s heads, shoulders, hands, whatever was offered to him. Culminating in a handstand at one point, the athleticism, the show and the swagger easily matches the powerful voice this talented lad possesses.
Swagger is definitely the approach the band takes and the rhythm section keeps the groove flowing throughout the short set. Laurie Buchanan on guitar knows all of the trademark licks and moves and is the perfect compliment to the flamboyant Aaron.
Their set comprises classy hard rock, energised, very much of the moment and is a thousand miles away from the rock music Aaron performed when he was in Heaven’s Basement. The style sits well with most in attendance and will appeal to almost any fan of… well… music. It’s almost impossible to pigeonhole the music Aaron & Co perform other than it’s a classic hard rock sound that ticks so many boxes. A headline show needs to be seen.
The surprise \ special guest of the evening has come over from Sweden to play with The Quireboys. H.E.A.T’s brand of hard rock does two things at that point in the proceedings. One it cranks the show up several gears, thanks in no small part to the boundless enthusiasm of front man Erik Grönwall a man who the term “ants in your pants” was clearly written for. Modeled on Looney Tunes ‘Tasmanian Devil’ the whirlwind of speed and hair is never and I mean NEVER still. He is proof positive that if you’re fit enough it’s entirely possible to put in an energised performance whilst being able to sing live and not rely on miming. So called R’n’B acts that seem so popular with the kids these days should sit up and take notice of what a proper performance looks like.
Their set comprises tracks from all eras of H.E.A.T.’s career shoehorned into a tight, 50 minutes. Pre Erik tracks from the band’s first two albums remind us of the band’s phenomenal impact on the Scandinavian rock music scene and the latter album’s material serve to confirm their place in the cream of the current hard rock acts in the world today. It still is criminal how underappreciated by the masses this band is. 5 albums in, they deserve the sort of recognition the headliners of the show at the sold out Forum receive.
If you haven’t seen H.E.A.T. perform you should. If you saw the band at The Forum last week then you already know that you need to see a headline 90 minute plus show. This was fantastic.
Bastard of Society / Late Night Lady / Mannequin Show / Redefined / Beg Beg Beg (featuring snippets of AC/DC’s ‘Whole Lotta Rose’ and Erma Franklin’s ‘Piece of My Heart’) / The Wreckoning / Tearing Down the Walls / Emergency / Inferno / Living on the Run
And so to the headliners. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve seen The Quireboys perform. Back in the day when they were seen as one of the main rival bands to The Dogs D’Amour, the years have passed in ‘hazy’ style and any rivalry between Tyla and Spike has migrated into a shared respect and joint albums coming from the pair are greatly received by fans.
The Forum plays host to the 10th Anniversary of ‘Homewreckers and Heartbreakers’ and saw the album played in full “For one night only”. No wonder then that the place was packed to the rafters. Staples of a typical Quireboys set have been taken from this album, such is its appeal with fans. Mona Lisa Smile raises a huge cheer from the crowd, other tracks even more so when you realise that there are tracks here that have never been performed live before and possibly never will be again. It was, as Spike confirmed at a press conference earlier in the day, “Probably one of the few times in many years that we had had to rehearse.”
Of course the hits that pepper the latter half of the set are lapped up by the eager crowd and the singalongs triggered with Hey You and 7 O’Clock threaten to tear the roof off the venue.
Strangely the most moving point of the show comes during the encore when the band perform a stripped back version of I Don’t Love You Anymore. Emotional doesn’t describe it yet somehow it is the perfect way to end the evening. Nothing else could come close. Excuse me, I have some dust in my eyes.
I Love This Dirty Town / Louder / Mona Lisa Smiled / Hello / Blackwater / Fear Within The Lie / One for the Road / Late Nite Saturday Call / Hall of Shame / Take A Look At Yourself / Josephine / Misled / There She Goes Again / Hey You / Sweet Mary Ann / 7 O’Clock /
This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll / I Don’t Love You Anymore