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'London, Islington Academy, 23 April 2017'   

-  Genre: 'Rock'

Our Rating:
Yes, The Quireboys are back once more, touring to promote the new (or at least recently released) album Twisted Love. They are joined on this tour by Last Great Dreamers who I was happy to see again after seeing them open for Tigertailz just over a year ago.

We arrived pretty much bang on 8pm and it seemed like Last Great Dreamers had come on early as they were just finishing the first song of the set. Damn. It was obvious that they had spent much of the last year touring as they sounded far tighter than the last time I clapped ears on 'em.

The first song we heard in full was No 1 Wonderboy, which was like they'd found a pristine old Junk shop glam album and recreated it for us. It sounds damn tight and Marc was doing his best hanging on the microphone stand routine.

Ashtray Eyes was played at quite a pace and with plenty of venom in the vocals for the woman with the ashtray eyes. It's almost a lyrical reworking of Captain Beefheart's Ashtray Heart although musically it's far more conventional than that song.

They then played (was it?) Far From Home about never wanting to be alone and in need of company. Marc, as he often does, only played his guitar during the chorus while giving us some of his best Ian Dury-style moves while singing. Slyder's guitar work, meanwhile, brought the gutter trash glam to the mix.

They were then full of everything (or whatever it was called) another full on glam stomp of a song. Before asking if we have seen their... well all sorts of things I think it was one of the band's earlier numbers. The old single Glitterball Apocalypse was next and sounding mighty fine now its road tuned with some cool backing vocals. The Way We Collide followed it like it did on the single from last year and yet again stood out as a great tune about meeting someone and falling for them before it all goes awry.

They then dedicated a song to Johnny Thunders. On the 26th anniversary of his all too early demise it sounded very Heartbreakers-esque without being a cover that I could tell. White Light Black Heart was next and it has some wonderfully spite-ridden lyrics. They get as close to a Dr Feelgood-style pub rock sound as they can and Marc does some Wilko-style moves on his guitar.

They make sure we all know who we are seeing by playing the band's theme tune Last Great Dreamer from the first album and it's a bit Mott meets The Rats and, well, just a good tune well played to get us all going. They closed with Dope School, the place they claim they got their education and learnt to be the gutter trash they always aspired to be. This was a good close to a fine support set. They are currently well worth seeing live while they are this tight and fine-tuned.

After the break it was time for The Quireboys to prove once again that Rock & Roll is alive. They were introduced by Alan Clayton from The Dirty Strangers. They opened with the title track of the latest album, Twisted Love, and looked and sounded exactly as you'd want a band that are now almost the kings of Neckerchief glam to sound like. Spike's gravelly vocals and Guy Griffin's guitar sound spot on as indeed the whole band do all set long.

Too Much Of A Good thing was next and can you have too much of a class act like this? Not really when they are on such top form. Misled was one of the only songs I didn't recognise even if it sounded exactly like...well, a typical song by The Quireboys. As ever, it was delivered with all of Spike's signature moves and Microphone shenanigans as he gave a masterclass in how to move closer and further away from the mic for different effects and with near perfect sound throughout. It was rather noticeable after the amateur hour I witnessed elsewhere on Friday night.

One of the things I love about seeing The Quireboys is you're never more than 3 songs away from a hit and the moment they started There She Goes Again the place was with them and singing every last word back as Keith Weir's keyboards as ever really make the song sound as much like The Faces as they get.

It was back to Twisted Love for Gracie B which seems to be a sad tale about once of their friends and what happened to her. Spike manages to wring plenty of emotion out of the lyrics too. Spike gives us a few "Yee Ha's!" before they launch into This Is Rock & Roll: a song that pretty much sums up what the band are all about. Of course, Spike thanks us for helping to keep Rock & roll alive at the end of it before they go back to the hits for nice, if unusually subdued version of Mona Lisa Smiled.

Breaking Rocks was next and, no, Spike isn't speaking from personal experience unless it was breaking rocks of Hashish back in the day either way. It's a fine rocking tune that sounds like, well, a classic Quireboys song even though it's a new one. Still as ever we all know we are just a bunch of Tramps And Thieves which is another song everyone sings along with and brings smiles to most of the people around us.

Hey You is of course treated like the hit it is and it always goes down a storm with some of the crowd seeming to have some hand movements to go with it. They brought things down a notch with I Don't Love You Anymore, the beautiful, bruised break up song that is obviously followed by Roses & Rings which is the game being played badly by the participants of the previous song.

Sweet Mary Ann is another great love song and one that really gets everyone going in time for them to close with 7 0'clock and it's time for a party. Well isn't it always party time in The Quireboys' world?

Now the crowd should have been going nuts for an encore but seemed to be playing it cool until Alan Clayton came back on and rabble roused us to give them a big St George's Day cheer and get them back onstage. The encore opened with I Love This Dirty Town, which Spike told us was about their hometown of Newcastle but dedicated to London tonight and, wow, it sounded as great as it always does onstage.

Spike then asked everyone to raise their glasses and one of the women near us took her glasses off and raised them which was just perfect as an intro to White Trash Baby . Damn, it really was ramped up and ready for all of us to party. They then played Black Mariah which was one of few songs I didn't know but it sounded cool nonetheless.

They then dragged The Last Great Dreamers back out to join them onstage for the closing rampage through Sex Party as obviously we had all been invited to one. No matter that anyone had work in the morning, it was time to get on down and have some fun. Well, The Quireboys sure know how to have fun and how to play a great live show. Go and see them on this tour if you get the chance as they are still a brilliant live band firing on all cylinders.
  author: simonovitch

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