Mid November is a time when you can count on a few things, shops will have their decorations up, the latest ridiculous Christmas ads will hit your TV screens and Spike and his merry men will be in town ready to party! The Quireboys annual jaunt has become something of a tradition and no doubt many see it as the start of the party season.
Tonight’s festivities are kicked off in fine style by Irish four piece Preacher’s Son. The band was formed by a real life preacher’s son, Brian Hogan, whose father, Larry, preached the gospels and enlisted his bass playing son into his gospel band. Brian had other ambitions though, found rock and some like-minded individuals and the rest is history. Well not quite history as the band have a long way to go to get to the top and I feel it may be a bit of a slow climb.
Playing a mix of rock, blues and Americana the band have a fairly generic sound but it is played well and the band are entertaining. Hogan’s between song banter is amusing, mainly because I couldn’t understand a word he said with his Irish brogue! Guitarist Mark Walsh knows his way around the fret board and was busy pulling the odd rockstar pose until his guitar strap gave way and he had to perch on the drum riser for the rest of the set.
By the end of their short set the band had done enough to raise a cheer from the growing crowd. The band have an album out called ’10 Stories Tall’ which may well be worth a listen.
The Vargas Blues Band were next on tonight’s bill of fare and proved to be a bit of a Ronseal outfit as they did exactly what it said on the tin. Javier Vargas hails from Spain and is a decent blues player with a decent blues band ultimately though there was nothing in the set that was memorable or particularly exciting.
Singer Gaz Pearson did his best to whip up some enthusiasm but band and crowd never really clicked and polite applause was about all they could muster. Don’t get me wrong, these guys can play and play well, it’s just nothing new or inspiring, there are so many bands playing standard blues that it takes something special to set them apart.
Vargas does have some good licks but it wasn’t enough to lift the set. The bar was crowded by the last number and again polite applause greeted the last chords, not quite the party atmosphere we were hoping for then.
Just as well the host with the most was in the hall to bring things back to the boil. As the lights went down, a cheer went up and The Quireboys hit the stage. Spike was wearing a rather natty tartan jacket which he had been given by Frankie Miller earlier in the day, I suspect that Frankie may have been glad to see it go!
You are always guaranteed a great soundtrack for this particular party and tonight’s set was no exception. Kicking off with ‘Troublemaker ( Black Eyed Son)’ the guys were as tight as ever.
The great guitar work from Guy Griffin and Paul Guerin is the backbone of the band’s sound with Keith Weir providing the honky tonk piano flourishes that embellish each song. It’s Spike who leads the festivities however and he loves every minute on stage, his between song chat is as entertaining as the music.
The set was a good balance of the old and the new with several tracks from band’s latest album, ‘Black Eyed Sons’. It was the live favourites which raised the biggest cheers whether it was the full on rock of ‘There She Goes Again’ and ‘This Is Rock n Roll’ or the heartfelt ballad ‘I Don’t Love You Any More’ every word was sung and hands clapped.
All too soon Spike asked the question ‘what time is it?’ to which the crowd screamed ‘7 O’clock’ and the party was in full rocking mode. The guys returned after a quick break for a blast through ’This Dirty Town’ with amazing guitar work and, finally, the guys extended an invitation to their ‘Sex Party’.
Once again The Quireboys proved that they are one of the best live acts in rock. The fact that they can tour year after year and fill halls up and down the country is testament to the premise that there is no substitute for great rock ‘n roll played by a band with sense of humour and The Quireboys score ten out of ten on both counts. This is rock n roll!
Review by Dave Wilson
Photos by Iain Scott
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