Words & Pictures: Adrian Hextall / (C) MindHex Media
Hard not to enjoy this one. The voice of The Quireboys until an acrimonious split with his band saw him ousted as the singer from the very group that he founded over 30 years ago. Needless to say, fans weren’t happy and without knowing what went on behind the scenes to lead to that moment, there’s no denying that Spike, his persona and most importantly his raspy, whiskey soaked voice are as important to the name ‘The Quireboys’ as Axl Rose is to Guns ‘n’ Roses. Sometimes, no substitute will ever be enough.
Ever the trooper, ever the fighter, Spike vowed to return. Rumours of the original line up of The Quireboys reuniting started to circulate and then, a gig was announced.
Could it be? Spike, Guy Bailey, Nigel Mogg along with Chris Johnstone and Rudy Richman? The line up that existing before the band released their debut, ‘A Little Bit of What You Fancy’. The answer is… almost. Guy Bailey, sadly not in great health could only make a brief appearance for hugs on stage to rapturous cheers from the crowd. In his stead, we have supporting guitar work from Chris McCormack and Chris Heilmann. The former has played with his own band 3 Colours Red and most recently, The Professionals, the latter, Spike’s sparring partner on his solo tours. Next to Mogg is Alan MP, another guitarist who also plays with Mogg in Juvenile Wrecks, making the score on stage, 3 guitarists, 1 bassist, 1 keyboard player, 1 drummer, 1 barmaid (eventually) and Spike. Not a bad turn out it has to be said!
Before the lads took to the stage though, a stage by the way complete with its own bar in one corner decked out with all manner of alcoholic beverages, Joli Blon an all-girl Cajun band, appeared. Acoustic guitar, accordion, violin and singing in a French dialect. An interesting choice for opener but to give them their dues, the did enough to warm up the crowd whose expectations of booze infused rock and bar room roll were put on hold for half an hour or so. Fliss Premru on violin would return later during the headliner’s set.
And so to the headliners, Spike’s Quireboys filled the stage with ease although Spike was keen to get their barmaid up there with them, mainly because the bar remained closed for the first few numbers. Not a problem for our leader though who arrived on stage with a pint and a smile as wide as the sold out venue, oh.. and also Jimi the Piper performing ‘Amazing Grace’.
For a man who has been performing Quireboys songs for the last 30-odd years, Spike not only sounds but looks great. Whether it’s the 50% proof blood coursing through his veins or whether it’s simply the fact that he’s kept doing this on a regular basis over the decades, the boy looks great. High kicks, swirling mic stands, pointing and acknowledging it seems every single member of the audience individually, everything about Spike oozes rock ‘n’ roll and with the return of Nigel Mogg on bass, the pairing seemed to give the band all the energy of the late 80s as if it was only yesterday.
Nigel certainly seemed like he’d not stopped playing any of the songs in the intervening years and made for a very very welcome addition to the fold once more. McCormack, MP and Heilmann are seasoned pros and slotted into their roles with ease and to be fair to both Chris Johnstone and Rudy Richman who I believe got just 4 days of practice sessions to get back up to speed, they also did remarkably well under the circumstances. A little bit more polishing and the outfit will be tour ready in no time at all.
Special guests were promised and a friend of the band, Angie Bruyere, flew in from the US especially for the show and joined them on stage for several numbers. Fliss from Joli Blon also returned to give several tracks a edge with her playing. A nice addition to the show and it made some of the songs feel even more intimate with the crowd hanging on to every word. A couple of people commented on Angie’s vocals but, given I was matching Spike pint for pint, I certainly didn’t notice any problems that impacted the show.
If you’ve ever been to a Quireboys show, you’ll know the hits are the ones that guarantee an audience sing along and with ‘7 o’clock’ and the hugely emotional ‘I don’t love you anymore’, the crowd experienced every range of emotion possible.
Was it a success, undoubtedly, was it perfect, not at all BUT it it had been perfect I’d have been disappointed. I expect a Quireboys show to make me feel like I’m sat in a smokey old boozer, with a knackered piano in the corner belting out all of the songs we heard in Islington. On that front the band delivered and then some. The crowd and band clearly agreed with me as we got 3 encores, which included ‘Mayfair’ recorded with many of the people on stage as well as new single ‘Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year’ complete with Jimi the Piper onstage. This specific track has been recorded for charity, and can be purchased here:
Amazing Grace (with Jimi the Piper)
Can’t Park Here
Man on the Loose
Tramps and Thieves
There She Goes Again
Where Ya Been To
King of New York
Ode to You (Baby Just Walk) – (with Angie Bruyere)
Last Time (with Angie Bruyere and Fliss Premru)
Roses & Rings (with Fliss Premru)
You Can’t Hide From Your Heart (with Angie Bruyere and Fliss Premru)
Sweet Mary Ann
Take No Revenge (with Angie Bruyere)
Long Time Comin’
Take Me Home
I Don’t Love You Anymore
Fortune (Frankie Miller cover) (with Angie Bruyere)
Mayfair (The Quireboys song)
Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year (with Angie Bruyere and Jimi the Piper)