The Quireboys are seasoned road warriors but after an incredibly busy 2016 there was a chance fatigue could be a factor on Tyneside. HRH Mag’s Simon Rushworth discovered the opposite was true.
Whisper it quietly – or perhaps acoustically – but the word on the street is that The Quireboys are in the form of their lives.
This packed show might have been unplugged but it was unabashed in its enthusiasm, energy and passion.
Hometown gigs haven’t always been a happy hunting ground for local heroes Spike and Paul Guerin – in fact The Quireboys have even missed the Toon off their tour itinerary in recent years.
But this was a special night: an acoustic set played against the backdrop of an electric atmosphere. From the get go there was a buzz about the place and as top tinkler Keith Weir later noted: “Something’s happening.”
What’s happening is this. Fans are finally figuring out that The Quireboys are on a roll: fusing old school values with a renewed sense of urgency. They’re telling their mates. And their mates are telling their mates.
Word of mouth might appear passé in 2016 with social media drowning out good, old fashioned conversation. But nothing beats a personal recommendation. And what was striking about this pre-Christmas knees up was the number of new – and younger – faces peppering the floor.
Spike responded with a masterclass in showmanship. The endearing frontman doesn’t need the festive season to introduce an element of pantomime to his repertoire but the cheap jokes flowed and his hour-long battle to bring a misbehaving mic stand under control proved to be an amusing aside.
Juxtaposed with the serious business of belting out a truly affecting mix of heart-wrenching ballads and rock and roll favourites, the penultimate show of a critically acclaimed tour had all the ingredients of a classic.
Mona Lisa Smiled and Beautiful Curse are brilliant songs in their own right. Stripped down and underpinned by Weir’s exquisite work they’re lifted to a whole new level. Those quick to dismiss The Quireboys as happy-go-lucky chancers have had their day: as songwriters and musicians this classy quartet have found the way to marry quality with quantity during a prolific and gloriously unpredictable past five years.
That new album Twisted Love didn’t get a look in was a little disappointing. There’s a very strong argument for Midnight Collective, at the very least, to make its presence felt at the heart of the band’s acoustic set. But enough of the nit-picking.
Something is happening where The Quireboys are concerned. And not before time.