The Quireboys and FM on a tour together? Anyone with even a passing interest in classic rock is aware of how both of these bands have soldiered through decades of history and how they’ve found their respective formula, stuck to it and endured. Whilst sonically, they may sound completely different yet both still in the classic rock camp, there’s enough common ground to justify a tour like this. And to give some extra weight to it, there are two great supports in Bad Touch and Vega.
Despite the early kick-off previously advertised and then brought forward even more, Vega don’t let it deter them from giving it their all. They’re quick to acknowledge getting the short end of the stick with a small, largely lethargic Monday night crowd. However, with the rapidly-growing audience, it’s obvious they’ve brought their own fans along and as they work through their up-tempo material, they make sure they have everyone engaged. Even those who are strangers to the band are keen to cheer and clap along.
As they make the most of their short time on stage, they remind me slightly of H.E.A.T albeit with the pop gloss applied with a thicker coat. It’s not something I’d find myself listening to but you can’t deny they’re a tight live act who know how to work together as a band.
I first came across Bad Touch in this very room as they supported The Quireboys several years ago and was instantly hooked, catching them almost every time they came through Glasgow. Essentially, this is it all coming full circle as the difference between that first time supporting The Quireboys and now is night and day. As they rattle through their set, every song with the exception of closer “99%” comes from last year’s Shake a Leg which speaks volumes about the quality of the material from that album and their confidence in it.
Where Vega makes a good match to support FM, Bad Touch are right at home to support The Quireboys. Their bluesy classic rock sound is still full of high-charged moments and, like Vega, they are determined to make the most of their time on stage. As tight as they’ve ever been and full of energy and with the tour in its final dates, they’re on good form.
As the first of the headliners, FM take their places to a rapturous response and enough smoke to put someone with a sixty-a-day habit to shame. Holding the crowd in the palm of their hand for the duration of their similarly shortened set, it’s obvious a band like this isn’t in the habit of missing a beat. And they don’t tonight. Whilst I couldn’t name a single FM song – the whole AOR / melodic rock from that era was never my thing – they keep my attention and as many around me are faithfully singing wordperfect, you know they’ve got a diehard following and deserve to be on equal footing with the following band.
Playing to such a crowd is always a tricky balance as the band are aware that they’re not playing to a full room of their fans. As such, they manage a deft balance of their back catalogue alongside newer numbers and it’s a canny move, not only to appease the long-time fans but trying to appeal to those who may be there for the other band. What they’ve got in their favour is the fact they’ve got more energy than bands half their age and the experience to back it up to be one of the tightest live bands I’ve seen in a long time.
Similarly, this can be applied to The Quireboys. Once again, not playing to a room full of their own fans, they’ve still brought the faithful out and air a couple of songs from their new album. Again, they’re pushed for time with their own shorter set. Whilst most of the standards are hit, a couple are obviously missing. As ever, they’re on fine form, just like the three bands before them and as always, know how to work the crowd.
Whilst time is pushing on, they still find time for banter, as well as dedicating “This is Rock and Roll” to the recently departed Bernie Tormé and there’s a deviation into “Fool to Cry” with The Dirty Strangers’ Alan Clayton sharing vocal duties with Spike. Indeed, having followed three great bands, their good-time rock and roll is the perfect climax to the evening and you can’t help but have a great time with The Quireboys.
As value for money tickets go, this has to be up there with the best. Whilst there may have been a bit of a clash sonically, by having support acts to tie in with the headliners, it makes for a more consistent evening. With none of the bands having anything to fault any of them and all four could have easily played full headline sets in their own right to an enthusiastic crowd, it’s proof that if you’ve got a solid bill, people will come out early to make new discoveries or stick around after “their” band has played.
Photos by Gary Cooper