Regardless of tour style, be it electric or acoustic, The Quireboys are a must on the year’s gig calendar. It’s always a guaranteed good night with the guys and their acoustic gigs are no exception with the chance to see them in much more intimate venues.
The only support act of the night, The Gloria Story, clamber onto Bannermans’ small stage. Hailing from Sweden and making their UK debut on this tour, they’re emboldened by the room almost at capacity level already. Appearing as a trio tonight, frontman Filip Rapp wins the crowd over immediately with his geniality and humour as opening song “Crusty Pie” is met with hearty laughs. Apparently it concerns a woman “Thick on the outside and sticky sweet on the inside” which only had the crowd laughing more. Their generally upbeat set wins the crowd over from the start, throwing in a couple of heart-rending ballads for good measure. However, it’s when they cover Kiss’ “C’mon and Love Me” that Filip really gets to let loose, bursting to jump out of his chair.
Italian backing singer Bella Varini provides drum beats via an iPad to bring more life to the faster numbers. For much of the set, her limited backing vocals were largely unnoticed and whilst I thought it was just me, our very own Gary commented that he couldn’t hear her vocals too. As they finished with another cover, this time The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop”, the band leave to rapturous applause and I’m certainly interested in hearing more of their material as a plugged-in band given their gargantuan 70s rock influences.
For more on The Gloria Story, check out our recent Band of the Day feature.
As The Quireboys are helped onto the stage by the nearby fans, they’re given an exceptionally warm welcome from the crowd. It’s not long before the sweat is flowing freely from the band as they ditch their jackets, such is the energy they put into an acoustic performance.
Featuring many of the staples you’d expect in a setlist from The Quireboys, the songs which never get old take on a new slant in an acoustic setting. From the opener of “There She Goes Again” through to the usual finale of “7 O’clock” and “I Don’t Love You Anymore”, The Quireboys effortlessly entertain their audience and it’s one of the reasons people will faithfully turn out for them, time after time.
Thanks to the nature of acoustic shows, songs which I’ve listened to for years are given outings you would normally hear only on album. They lend themselves better to a stripped back setting with songs like “Hello”, “Have a Drink With Me” and one of my favourites by the band, “Hates to Please”. However, even the more familiar ones can occasionally work better in a setting like this such as “Roses and Rings” and “Sweet Mary Ann”.
It’s hard to pin down an individual reason why The Quireboys are so good, between their heartfelt lyrics, the musicianship from Guy Griffin, Paul Guerin and Keith Weir, which only comes from years of playing together, and with Spike’s well-weathered vocals, they’re age defying, putting their peers and bands half their age to shame. It’s sheer entertainment at its finest and somehow they manage to earn laughs with their onstage banter between them, mostly between Spike and Guy and “the ammo” they have on each other.
With these stripped back shows, you get to the essence of the band and their self-styled gypsy rock ‘n’ roll proves it can endure. With the exception of a hiatus, the fact they’ve been playing for more than thirty years is proof of concept. Keith Weir’s keyboard work, although never sidelined in the past, has even more room to breathe than usual and it’s obvious he’s enjoying the less often played numbers, adding mild variation into the more obvious songs.
Having plugged their album and forthcoming electric shows numerous times, Spike and his brothers in arms depart and the comments around me unify the opinion of the night and any time they’re in town. Never ones to disappoint, it has people itching for the next show.
All photos by Gary Cooper.