Paisley isn’t a town you’ll normally see on a band’s tour poster, yet that’s exactly where The Quireboys have wound up on this damp Sunday night. Intentionally hitting places most bands don’t visit in smaller venues than the norm, it’s a night for the die-hards.
I hadn’t heard ahead of time who was supporting tonight. As a rule of thumb, that doesn’t bode well. However, I’m happily surprised when I’m greeted by SKAM, just as The Bungalow is hitting capacity and it’s getting uncomfortably warm. I last saw the hard rock trio about four years ago supporting Bonafide and what I heard, I liked. Tonight, however, was a different case. The only thought in my mind was “Why aren’t these guys massive?” They have the songs and skill to be headlining far bigger shows on their own. It’s always a pleasure to be getting good value for your money when all the bands on the bill are this good.
Strangely enough, the no-nonsense hard rock fits in with the vibe of the night. SKAM are obviously a band who love to play their songs and really are doing what they’re doing for that reason. They’re out to ensure you and the band themselves have a good time, much like the night’s headliners. There’s even a touch of blues thrown into the mix to help fortify the connections between the bands. As tight as a vice, the Leicester lads had my full attention and from my viewpoint, the rest of the room.
Ten o’clock rolls around and The Quireboys take to the stage. As much at home on a bigger stage as the tiny one the six of them are cramped on, there’s palpable excitement from the band and crowd. Before they’ve launched into the title track from the new album, Twisted Love, there’s a feeling in the air. This is going to be a special one. With one of the longest – if not, the longest – enduring line-ups the band has ever had, The Quireboys use the next hour and a half to prove why they’re one of the best live acts I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing.
After some microphone troubles at the start for Spike, there’s the usual mirth you can expect from the band. After swapping microphones with veteran guitarist Guy Griffin, Spike asks: “Why’s your mic louder than mine?” and without a second’s hesitation, Griffin quips drily “Because I was at sound check”. To which Spike admits to having been watching Bargain Hunt. I always had him down as a Dickinson’s Real Deal guy, myself.
Songs come thick and fast and many of the staples are there like “Misled”, “Mona Lisa Smiled”, “There She Goes Again” and “Sweet Mary Anne”. Interspersed with those is a handful from the new album such as “Ghost Train”, “Torn and Frayed” and “Breaking Rocks”. They blend into the set seamlessly, almost as if they’ve been there for years and the reception the crowd gives them would add further proof to that. Obviously, not every song you’d expect to hear from the band is given an outing, if that were the case, you’d be treated to at least a three hour set (though that sounds like a good idea for the future…).
Crammed onto the tiny stage, Spike has little room to move around and throw his microphone (no attempt was even made given how low the ceiling was). It’s a far cry from their appearance at the O2 ABC earlier this year where there was a sense of belonging and achievement of the band finally rising up the ranks. However, there’s no doubting that the band are loving their intimate setting and they look at home, even if home means six men and instruments packed into a small space. There’s a chemistry and camaraderie present that only comes from playing together for a long time and playing music they’ve all created together, rather than (especially in the case of drummer Dave McCluskey and bassist Nick Mailing) playing music someone else has created.
With the encore of “This is Rock N’ Roll”, “I Love This Dirty Town” and “Sex Party”, alongside “Happy Birthday” for a woman who may not even have been at the gig, people are leaving with massive grins on their faces. For one reason alone: bands may come and go, the latest flavour of the month people may go crazy for but The Quireboys endure. And never disappoint.