The Quireboys celebrated the 10thanniversary of the epic Homewreckers And Heartbreakers album in front of a sold-out O2 Kentish Forum crowd. HRH Mag was there.
I Don’t Love You Anymore teased Spike at the end of a memorable night in the capital. The feeling is far from mutual. The Quireboys have never been more loved. And as the curtain fell on a truly fabulous evening – the brilliant headline act ably complemented by a brazen and bullish supporting cast – it felt more like the end of the beginning, rather than the beginning of the end for one of rock and roll’s most underrated national treasures.
The decision to play criminally overlooked classic Homewreckers And Heartbreakers in its entirety served a dual purpose: if the primary aim was to celebrate 10 years of a record re-released and re-evaluated then this was also an opportunity to make the critics cringe. Far too often The Quireboys are dismissed as second-rate journeymen steadfastly refusing to reinvent the rock and roll wheel. Judged on a smattering of Top 40 hits, rather than the breadth of an increasingly diverse back catalogue, theirs is a reputation damaged by lazy assumption and frequently self-defeating self-deprecation. Endearing frontman Spike loves to play the fool but beneath the seemingly haphazard surface lies a talented wordsmith whose ambition stretches far beyond the bottom of a glass.
In tandem with long-time band mate Guy Griffin and fellow North Easterner Paul Guerin, the canny singer songwriter created a masterwork in the shape of Homewreckers And Heartbreakers. And this was the chance to prove the point. To prove that there’s more to this misjudged band of loveable rogues than childish banter and after-show beers. To prove that 7 O’Clock was a mere snapshot in time. And to prove that classy musicianship, rather than clumsy misadventure, is at the heart of a band that deserves fresh recognition and a degree of respect.
The classic Mona Lisa Smiled has long held a special place in the hearts of Quireboys die-hards – and a prominent position in the band’s live sets – but Homewreckers And Heartbreakers’ standout track only scratches the surface of a record that pushes the boundaries from start to finish. Significantly, vast swathes of a capacity crowd were word perfect as I Love This Dirty Town, Josephine and the bittersweet Late Night Saturday Call rang out around the Kentish Forum. And as the band ripped through a spellbinding version of Blackwater – a rhythmic beast of a track – it became clear that there’s always been so much more to The Quireboys than meets the eye.
Spike talked of too little rehearsal time, hilariously messed up his lines when attempting to quote Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and struggled to control an increasingly troublesome scarf but on a night when so much might have gone wrong, almost everything else went right. And having safely navigated their way through a record that required a serious reappraisal, the sense of relief was palpable by the time the band launched into the closing salvo of crowd-pleasing hits. This Is Rock And Roll, Spike remined the masses at the outset of the encore – but it was so much more.
Earlier, a stellar trio of support bands set the celebratory tone with rising stars Those Damn Crows whetting the appetite for Earache debut Murder And The Motive throughout a no-holds-barred set. When Shane Greenhall screams Rock N Roll Ain’t Dead it would take a brave man to argue against TDC’s insistent frontman and new single Blink Of An Eye proves the Bridgend crew have set their sights on the big time. During a typically abrasive show, Aaron Buchanan announced The Cult Classics have signed a new deal with Listenable and the French-based label have led where others should surely follow in signing the very best of British. Set closer Morals wrapped up 40 minutes of absolute mayhem and utter joy. H.E.A.T. had it all to do as the main support but the super Swedes never disappoint: Tearing Down The Walls and Living On The Run sounded immense within a venue built for hard rock heroes. Another full UK tour simply can’t some soon enough.