What can I say about a band that has been around (on and off) for over thirty years? Starting out as the Queerboys wasn’t the best image the band wanted to portray, so in order to tour in the USA, they changed to the London Quireboys. But as the front man is a Geordie, they dropped the London, and have been known as The Quireboys ever since.
Having already celebrated the twenty year anniversary of their most successful album to date, ‘A Bit of What You Fancy’, The Quireboys will be releasing an updated version of ‘Homewreckers & Heartbreakers’ in time for its ten year anniversary, and launching it with a party at the O2 Forum Kentish Town on 14th September. Supported by Heat and Aaron Buchanan, this will be a night to remember.
The album and sometimes live set opener ‘I Love This Dirty Town’ is Spikes husky homage to either Newcastle or London, depending on where he is at the time. The keyboards are distinctively reminiscent of the glory days of ‘A Bit of What You Fancy’ provided by the quiet man in the corner, Keith Weir, and set the stage for what was the new era and new line up, for the second coming of these rock and roll gypsies.
Every song written by The Quireboys has a back story or experience to explain its conception, and ‘Mona Lisa Smiled’ is no exception. It took its inspiration during a visit to Spain by the story of Salvador Dali and his wife Gaya. It’s a beautiful ballad featuring some of Spikes best lyrics, and is a firm favourite on tour with the band and the fans. The album continues in roller coaster fashion with the high of rocking tune ‘Louder’, then followed straight after by another fine ballad ‘Hello’, which could almost be a sequel to the 80s classic break up hit ‘I Don’t Love You Anymore’.
‘Blackwater’ was written as a tribute to Lynchburg Tennessee’s finest export, and comes across as a southern, smoky blues number, best enjoyed with a glass of the good stuff while sitting on the porch watching the sun go down.
Singer Spike Grays voice has sounded like a grizzly bear gargling gasoline, while smoking a cigar for years now, and never more so than on the next ballad, ‘Fear Within The Lie’, but like an elastic band, no matter how far he stretches his vocal cords, they just keep coming back stronger than ever.
Alcohol is a big feature in their music, and no Quireboys gig is ever complete without a few glasses raised and friends toasted, so it’s no surprise that there are a few drinking songs in their back catalogue, and ‘One For The Road’ sums up the bands ethos of having a good time on and off the stage. This is an easy rocking song, written for the crowd to sing (and drink) along to.
The rollercoaster keeps on plunging down into slow blues ballads, with another fine example in ’Late Night Saturday Call’. This time with a touch of acoustic guitar, and a slower more classical piano sound from Ulsterman Weirs keyboards, giving a more melancholy feeling to what is still a distinctive Quireboys sound. Another distinctive sound from the band is the bluesy slide guitar that both Griffin and Guerin are so good at throwing into the mix, both onstage and in the studio, no more so than on ‘Hall Of Shame’, which again raises the mood, and somehow makes a song about being bad sound so good.
Final ballad of the original album, ‘Take A Look At Yourself’ is another heart breaker, which Spike always portrays so well. If these songs are all written from personal experience, his heart must be in more pieces than a box of cornflakes. Then of course, like any great show closing track, we finish the 2008 part of the album with a full blooded rocking dedication to ‘Josephine’. I don’t know who she was, but she left a lasting memory!
Added to the original album tracks in this special edition, are five fans favourites recorded at the thirty year anniversary gig. Again, kicking off with their recent set opener ‘Too Much Of A Good Thing’, gets the audience on their feet and singing along. And of course the track from the album title, which was not actually on the original issue, ‘Homewreckers & Heartbreakers’ is another Quireboys anthem these days that is a constant hit on tour.
Like an encore to close out the album, live versions of ‘Mona Lisa’ and ‘I Love This Dirty Town’ are given another outing, and Spikes comments and chat in between just emphasises how much the band enjoy being on stage and performing live. Also, in the live portion, is ‘Mother Mary’ taken from the ‘Beautiful Curse’ album, and if Heineken did ballads, they’d take a leaf out of The Quireboys song book.
Having gone through more drummers than Spinal Tap, and almost as many bass players, the line-up seems to have settled for a few years now, and the band are playing and writing some of their best stuff in years. I’m not sure this throwback album was necessary, apart from including the title track, but as with everything The Quireboys do, it seems like a good excuse for a party.
I Love This Dirty Town
Mona Lisa Smiled
Fear Within the Lie
One for the Road
Late Night Saturday Call
Hall of Shame
Take a Look at Yourself
Too Much of a Good Thing (live)
Homewreakers &Heartbreakers (live)
Mona Lisa Smiled (live)
Mother Mary (live)
I Love This Dirty Town (live)
Current Band Line-Up:
Spike - vocals (1984-1993, 1995, 2001–present)
Guy Griffin - Guitars (1990-1993, 2001–present)
Keith Weir - Keyboards (2001–present)
Paul Guerin - Guitars (2004 - present)
Dave McCluskey - Drums (2014 - present)
Nick Mailing - Bass (2014 - present)
Find out more and checkout the band at the following links: