I first saw The Quireboys at Manchester International II in the early nineties. I’ve seen them a couple of times since then, make that around twenty times! Manchester International II has now been demolished and a block of flats stand in it’s place. Since my first gig The Quireboys have seen a few changes, I suppose you could liken them to the International II, they’ve been knocked down, rebuilt and are back stronger than ever! Sheffield Corporation is a reasonable sized venue, about 10 mins walk from the city centre in the student quarter, that’s if Sheffield has quarters! I’ve been to The Corp a few times but have only seen The Quireboys and The Dogs D’Amour there. Gigs usually start and finish early and it then becomes a rock club. The lighting and acoustics are good, bar prices are reasonable and it’s close to transport links with free on street parking nearby.
I arrived at 7 O’Clock (time for a party!) to a short queue as the doors weren’t yet open, so I headed to local hostelry The Devonshire Cat just around the corner. Good food and reasonable beer prices there too! I went back for 7.30 pm. People were already surrounding the stage in eager anticipation. The support for the evening came from Curran. Front-man Mark hails all the way from New Jersey. With his black shoulder length hair, goatee and black rimmed glasses he put me in mind of Tyla. He came on stage promptly with a ‘Good Evening Sheffield – how are you doing?’ Opening his set with a cover of Neil Young’s Rocking in the Free World. Even though there were just two guys playing acoustic guitars it was a powerful sound. Mark asked us ‘Do you feel like dancing?’ I might have done afterwards, but I can’t dance and make notes! He then welcomed ‘Friend of ours, junior Quireboy, Zander’ on to the stage and we got some dancing music in the form of Rosalie a cover of that great Thin Lizzy classic which Mark dedicated ‘All the way to heaven to Mr Phil Lynott’ before playing Old Fashioned Cowboy.
The Corporation was fairly busy by this stage and everyone seemed to be enjoying Curran. Mark introduced us to his glamorous assistant ‘From Voodoo Six, the guy with the magic fingers, Mr Matt Pearce’ who, he said, was a pleasure to play with! During My Love Won’t Let You Down there looked to be a bit of a guitar duel going on, ending with a punch of fists, which wasn’t aggressive but more like a high five! We then came to the last song and with a ‘Bless You Sheffield’ we got Curran’s new single Run Back to You. I hadn’t heard of, or anything by, Curran before so I asked Mark afterwards if he often played acoustic and if the rest of the band were based in New Jersey. He usually plays with a full band, the rest of the band are based over in the UK and will be playing at Hard Rock Hell AOR and Sonisphere. I enjoyed Curran acoustic and would like to see a full band gig soon.
At last The Quireboys came on stage with Spike saying ‘Good evening’ raising a (plastic) pint pot in the air then ‘Let me see those glasses in the air’ the audience were happy to oblige. A shout rose from the back ‘Newcastle Brown’ Spike laughed and said we were going to get some old songs, new songs, some borrowed……. and thus began The Quireboys unplugged/Spike stand up comic show. ‘We’re The Quireboys and this is acoustic Rock ‘n’ Roll’ led into the opening track Don’t Bite The Hand That Feeds You. The Quireboys are looking pretty good to say they’ve been going thirty years, Spike very much the ultimate pirate in his trademark bandana, Guy in a trilby and still looking as youthful as he did back in the nineties, Keith in his signature flat cap (well we were in Yorkshire!) and Paul with his mane of strawberry blonde hair.
Spike asked us to ‘Give it up for Mark Curran, from New Jersey’ and we did indeed give Curran a well deserved round of applause. Spike then quipped this is a ‘song about a girl I used to know a long time ago. I can’t remember her name but I’m sure she was lovely’ before with arms outstretched he asked ‘Sing it with me Griff’ and launched into Devil of a Man. Spike then uttered ‘I know we’re on early but we get more time at the bar’ The next song was Beautiful Curse, the title track from their latest album and Spike said ‘Let me thank you for making it such a success’ After Beautiful Curse came There She Goes Again, a song from A Bit of What You Fancy, an album recorded twenty years ago. Spike had a seat but didn’t know whether to sit or stand and we got a bit of a slapstick comedy effect when Spike aimed a kick at Griff and Griff stood up. Spike didn’t like his seat, as he kept letting us know. Apparently he was at a pub round the corner whilst sound checks were taking place. Paul let slip that Spike doesn’t do sound checks or he would have known about the chair, to which Spike said why should he, when he had them (the other Quireboys). Fair enough, it’s like that old adage why have a dog and bark yourself! Roses n Rings was next with Spike sounding very much like Rod Stewart, and he told us that when recording that one they got a surprise visit from Rod Stewart. When Spike told him (tongue in cheek) that he’d never heard of The Faces, Rod just said ‘Don’t worry I nick everything as well’
I noticed that there were a few punks in the audience with spiky hair and mohicans. Whilst I’ve seen many a mohawk at a Motorhead gig I’ve not noticed punks at Quireboys gigs before. I’m not saying no punk has ever gone to see them, just that I haven’t noticed before. I looked to see what t-shirts people were wearing and these included Black Sabbath, AC/DC and the Ramones so it looks like The Quireboys are up there with some of the greatest bands of all time! Next we came to a slower track off the album Halfpenny Dancers, a track which is apparently a huge hit in Norway – Mona Lisa Smile. The band are currently recording their next album, to be released later this year and have already got 19 songs. Another track from Beautiful Curse followed in 27 years, again a slower song and when he’d finished singing Spike said ‘That’s when Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix……’ he didn’t continue, he didn’t need to but he did say that on his 28th birthday Tyla phoned him and said ‘Ha you’re not going to be a legend!’
During Sadly Misled Spike said ‘Hand it to Keith Weir’ and Keith’s keyboard skills were brought in to the fore, with Griff and Paul still strumming in accompaniment to ‘Mr Keith Weir from Def Leppard.’ When in Sheffield! The next song was dedicated to all the beautiful, pretty girls down the front. I wasn’t, I was somewhere to the side making notes. I’ll make sure I’m on the front row next time! Spike told us that his song writing is a bit limited. Girls, Drink and Cars ‘Raise your glasses and please Have a Drink on Me‘ and we were happy to oblige although afterwards Spike said that it was a ‘Very depressing drinking song’ and next time ‘I’m going to write a happy drinking song’ Spike asked Paul ‘What would you like to play?’ Paul replied ‘One off new album, Chain Smoking – eh’ the ‘eh’ being said in a broad Geordie accent.
When Spike asked ‘What’s the time?’ everyone was like ‘Yes! Its time for a party’ but Spike said he didn’t mean it like that, he genuinely wanted to know the time, as the venue becomes a club after and time was limited. With a sad expression he said ‘No one’s going to tell me the time? My time is 7 o’clock every hour’ A song off Bittersweet and Twisted came next with Hates to Please. ‘Yee Ha!’ At last ‘Mr Keith Weir – What’s the time?’ and this time it really was time for a party and 7 O’Clock, the song synonymous with The Quireboys, ended the set. With a ‘God Bless You. Thanks for keeping Rock n Roll alive. See you later in the year’ it was exit Stage left (their left, my right, so it depends how you look at it!) There were shouts for more and foot stamping before The Quireboys came back on stage and, believe it or not, Spike had a pint in his hand! We were treated to two more songs starting with I love this Dirty Town. Spike advised us that it was his first drink of the night and, of course, we believed him. He said ‘Do you know what they did? Took strongbow off the rider and replaced it with Magners instead which Griff had swapped for alcohol free’ despite that, Spike claims he was still pissed!
Now we really were on to the very last song Spike said ‘Wouldn’t be The Quireboys if we didn’t play this. Thank you for keeping rock n roll alive’ before I Don’t Love You Anymore and everyone joined in to help sing the chorus. We got a ‘God Bless You – Thank you’ from Spike and the gig was over. So no Sex Party but it hasn’t been played at every gig I’ve been to. Maybe next time in the next Dirty Town! The Quireboys are like a fine wine, they just get better and better. I can’t say that I enjoyed the acoustic set any more or any less than a full set, all I can say is that it was a great evening of Rock ‘n’ Roll and I look forward to seeing them another twenty times!
Don’t Bite the Hand That Feeds You
Devil of a Man
There She Goes Again
Roses & Rings
Mona Lisa Smiled
Twenty Seven Years
Have a Drink on Me
Sweet Mary Ann
Hates to Please
I Love This Dirty Town
I Don’t Love You Anymore
The Quireboys Acoustic
Spike – Vocals
Guy Griffin – Guitar
Paul Guerin – Guitar
Keith Weir – Keyboards
Interview with Guy Griffin: http://planetmosh.com/guy-griffin-the-quireboys-interview-8th-february-2014/
Review of Beautiful Curse: http://planetmosh.com/quireboys-beautiful-curse/
Review of a full band gig: http://planetmosh.com/the-quireboys-club-academy-manchester-15th-october-2013/