Where has the time gone? It only seems like yesterday that as a teenager I walked into my local Our Price to pick up my much valued and still played vinyl copy of the bands debut album A Bit Of What You Fancy. Some 30 years later and here I am at the o2 Forum in London’s Kentish Town about to witness the band celebrate their 35th anniversary by playing that album in it’s entirety. For me the night is going to be made even more special as I have made this a family affair and it was my pleasure to introduce them to this sensational band who have been a massive part of the whole of my adult life.
One thing I have learnt in 30 years of following the band is that there “Ain’t no party like a Quireboys party” and tonight was no exception. Like a World Championship Boxing match, you need a good undercard and tonight’s support acts are all here to create an electric atmosphere in the venue to make sure that this is one hell of a celebration.
Tequila Mockingbyrd had the privilege of getting the party started with a blistering six song set played out to an ever swelling crowd who were drawn in by the girls and guys high energy rock and roll. Yes, you did read that right, I did say girls and guys, as tonight’s Mockingbryd line comprised of Josie O’Toole on drums and Gill Montgomery from The Amorettes on guitar and vocals as she has been throughout the year being joined by the versatile and supremely talented Sam Wood from Wayward Sons on guitar and Ben Chalker on bass.
Opening up with a rip roaring version of Good Time, a very apt name for the first song of the night, they kickstarted proceedings with energy and enthusiasm in abundance. This may have been a very different line up tonight but it was clearly working straight away. Josie is an absolute powerhouse on the drums and Gill’s raspy voice is a perfect for the band, full of power, grit and emotion. Never Go Home and Enjoy The Ride follow, with the boys in the team supporting the girls superbly.
Slipping in The Amorettes Everything I Learned I Learned From Rock n Roll sees no drop in tempo as they make use of every last second of their short set to entertain the Forum crowd. Gill’s gravelly vocals are a real treat on this number as she gets the crowd involved in an early evening sing-a-long. Jagerbomb and I Smell Rock N Roll bring this oh to short a set to a close with the ever willing audience getting involved whenever they can. At one point Josie is up out of her seat, with her sticks raised high which draws a massive cheer from the crowd. This has been a punchy, fast paced set of in your face rock n roll and the crowd have obviously loved every minute of it as they give the band a resounding cheer of appreciation as they leave the stage.
Aussie rockers Massive hit the stage running with all the pace and gusto of their countries four man pace attack that has just taken England apart in the Ashes. The big difference here though is these guys are full of good humoured banter, are fun to be around and you actually want to stand in front of them and enjoy the show! What a show it was too, full of the beer swilling, foot stomping, hell raising rock they quite rightly say they play.
From the minute they walked on stage I was captivated by the music and the energy. This was Aussie rock at it’s finest and I was so glad I had finally got to see these guys tear it up after missing them when they were in the UK in July. Frontman Brad Marr is just a complete bundle of energy waiting to explode and he quickly held the Forum crowd in the palm of his hand as the band ripped through their electrifying set. It is also quickly apparent that Ben Laguda is an absolute maestro on the six string as he treats us to some mesmerizingly brilliant solo’s throughout their time on stage.
This was show 39 for the band on their jaunt around the UK and Europe this summer and you could tell they were having the times of their lives. The fun, musicianship and energy was not lost on the crowd and they gave the band the respect and adulation their set deserved. Many of the shows the band have played have been headline slots so this was a short set for them tonight and they filled it with so much punch it was hard to catch your breath. Ghost and Long Time Coming were particular highlights for me and I so wish I could have heard more as I found them so enthralling. Still, they are back in May next year and after witnessing that performance I will definitely be going to see them play a longer headline set.
Pig Iron had the role of Special Guests tonight and were the third of the Quireboys, Off Yer Rocka label mates on the bill. They took their allotted stage time by the scruff of the neck and entertained the crowd to seven songs that spanned their career. Horseshoes and Hand Grenades opened their set of heavy rocking blues before Golden and then Ruler of Tomorrow.
Pig Iron are loud and proud and have a really beefy sound that comprises Metal, Southern Rock and Hard Rock and they play it well. They also have an array of unforgettable song titles! Hellacious Daze, Wild Cat Bird Head and Lord Kill The Pain take us through to the final song of the set, Guns n Ammo which is a phenomenal wall of noise that leaves you in no doubt as to how heavy this band could be if they really wanted to. This was different to the previous two bands on the bill, not so straight ahead rock n roll but it warmed the crowd up nicely for tonights main attraction and party hosts The Quireboys.
There was not a spare bit of space to stand or an empty seat in the venue as the big video screen behind the drum kit played out video footage of The Quireboys on Top of the Pops to herald the arrival of tonight’s headline act. The band were in town to celebrate a remarkable 35 year career that shows no sign of stopping and they had come to party. What we got was the whole of the A Bit Of What You Fancy album plus five other tracks.
Opening up with an truly raucous version of Hey You they got the place jumping from the get go before going into an astounding There She Goes Again that just took your breath away. Spike covered every inch of the stage in those first two songs with the energy of a man so much younger than him. That cheeky smile and magical glint in his eye was a joy to see as he took the rose from his jacket breast pocket and handed it to a lady in the front row. Misled was up next with Spike spinning and swinging his mic stand at every opportunity.
Three songs in and one thing was for certain, The Quireboys were on fire tonight! From the charismatic and magnetic charms and talent of the frontman, the bewitching guitar work of Guy Griffin and Paul Guerin, the spellbinding rhythm section of Dave McCluskey and Gary Ivin and the dynamic work by Keith Weir on keys, the band were sweeping every single audience member off their feet.
Roses and Rings and Man On The Loose took us into Take Me Home which Spike cheekily dedicated to the ladies in the audience. I have been going to Quireboys gigs for around 30 years and Spike sounds as good as ever. His wine soaked, cigarette tarred voice just seems to get better and better with age, like a truly great red wine! This is not only an
anniversary tonight, this is a homecoming and it is being lapped up. To use Spike’s phrase, “this is the Quireboys and this is rock and roll”.
Plenty of “yeehahs” were banded about by Spike and the willing crowd in reply before a truly sensational Sweet Mary Ann including a crowd sing along that I don’t think a single person didn’t join in on. Whippin Boy followed, a rearranged, elongated and heavier version than on the album but one that I truly loved. I Don’t Love You Anymore took us through the half way point of the set. This has to be one of my favourite “power ballads” of that late 80’s early 90’s era and tonight the band and the audience combined make it one of the best moments in the set. The passion and emotion in Spike’s voice is clearly evident and when he gets the crowd singing the chorus back to him, the volume with which they respond must have come close to lifting the roof off the venue. I know the bands get decibel limits set on them, but I reckon the Forum crowd needed one on that performance.
Long Time Coming really does get the crowd jumping up and down as those on the Forum floor are taken back to a time when they were much much younger. If that didn’t cause a few aching limbs the following morning, the rip roaring version of 7 o’clock that followed might have done. This was like the 80’s/90’s all over again and really did take you back to a time when every radio station and music programme on the TV would have been playing great rock music to the masses. At one point you couldn’t see the drums through the smoke machine, there were drinks being held aloft in the air and if you closed your eyes you could easily think the last 30 years hadn’t happened.
That brought an end (almost) to the main point of the evening, which was hearing the band play their most famous album, which spawned 4 Top 40 singles, in its entirety. They brought the main part of their set to a close with four songs from albums they have released since those heady days. Mona Lisa Smiled, taken from their Homewreckers and Heartbreakers album kickstarts this section of the set before we get two tracks from the latest album Amazing Disgrace, namely 7 Deadly Sins and the fabulous Original Black Eyed Son. This is Rock and Roll closes out the main set and sees the ever loving and willing audience with every single hand in the hair clapping along.
I can’t say they left the best until last but they certainly made the encores special as there was so much good stuff before this. Thank god I didn’t have to photograph this bit of the set as it was hard enough trying to
write review notes after taking over from my daughter as I sang and danced along. That inimitable phrase “Do you want to come to a party” kickstarted Sex Party and the missing track from A Bit Of What You Fancy. More time for a bit of sing-a-long with Spike as everybody danced, sang and drank beer alongside this wonderful little Geordie who was acting as choirmaster to the masses. Now here we were, the final song of the night and it was a truly special moment as the band dipped in to that period before EMI and A Bit Of What You Fancy and left us with Mayfair. This was the track that found me the band and I dare say a lot of the people in the crowd tonight. If you are going to celebrate your whole career what better way to finish that celebration than with your first ever single and the song that started it all for you. Sensational!
As the band took their bows and left the stage it made me think that as a lifelong Quireboys fan, what would my life have been like without them in it. There is and always has been for me something special about a Quireboys gig and their music. It isn’t just the songs, it is the way they are played, the emotion and joy you see from the band as they perform, the atmosphere in the crowd, the friendliness of the fans and more. They can rock with the best and write heart wrenching ballads that just claw away at you like not many others. Tonight had all that and much much more. I hope that there are many more nights like this to look forward to from this outstanding band although maybe hoping for a 50th anniversary will be asking too much.
My final 3 words in the review notes were “F**king amazing night”……says it all
Review & Photography by Darren Smith for metalplanetmusic