Live Review : The Quireboys + The Clan @ The Tivoli, Buckley on March 30th 2019

The Tivoli kept up its practice of giving us a local band as opener by tonight presenting The Clan. Rumour had it that they were yet another pub-rock covers band, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that actually they play original (if derived) traditional British blues rock. Think back to the early 80s (if you are old enough) and there were dozens of bands like this all playing their hearts out and dreaming of following in the footsteps of Iron Maiden or Saxon to the charts and being asked to go on TOTP. Sadly, most of them gave up their dream and went back to their day jobs but several of them kept up the music as a part-time hobby and I suspect The Clan would fall neatly into this category. The songs were listenable and played well. The sound is nothing new but they obviously love what they do and that can be kind of infectious. The Grumpy Husband liked them very much! I suspect, from the style of music and the fact that they were all wearing waistcoats, that they play a lot of bike rallies. I also suspect that they are very well received at them, as they were tonight by a warm and appreciative audience.

The Quireboys hit the stage with the same old swagger, and yet another bass player. Still, he seems to know all the right notes and play them in all the right order, so it’s all good!

Speaking of the right order, there was a set list tonight. I know there was, I saw it. But as far as that was concerned it definitely wasn’t necessarily all the right songs, in the right order. Which brings me to Spike. Spike, who, despite the others being bloody good at what they do, is kind of the heart of The Quireboys. Spike, with his raspy voice, ever-present bandana, habit of forgetting the words to his own songs and slightly tipsy humour, is here for a party. And you, my friends in the crowd, are getting a party too. Whether you want one or not. Because that’s what The Quireboys do, they party.

There’s no deep political thinking here, no angst, no concern for mankind and the climate. First song ‘Dirty Town’ instead gives us some mega honky-tonk piano and a chorus that tells us Spike “don’t give a damn”. Yeah baby! The setlist goes astray from this point on, as the next song is “There She Goes Again”, which was on it, but crossed out. Oops. Oh well, seeing as this is one of my favourite Quireboys songs I can live with that. It’s light and frothy  good-time rock and roll. There are no heavy riffs, no double-kick drums, just a host of songs with catchy melodies and bouncy beats that you sing and dance along to almost without thinking.

We do get a couple of songs off the new alum which is released on the 5th of April. Spike tells us that they were yet another band ripped off by the Pledge organisation, a great idea brought down by greed and mismanagement. But they’ve ploughed on, finished the album anyway, and first single ‘7 Deadly Sins’ is a typical upbeat Quireboys party song. If this is a taster for the album, take my money guys!

We get a tribute to obscure 70s blues legends Taj Mahal (no I don’t know either) in a song which I believe is called ‘Leaving Trunk’, during which guitarist Paul Guerin gets to show off his talent with a rather splendid solo, and that’s followed by another perennial favourite ‘Mona Lisa Smiled’.

This Is Rock N Roll’ is dedicated to Bernie Torme, who sadly died very recently, and gives us the marginally heavier side of The Quireboys that sometimes gets hidden by all the froth. They are, after all, a rock band, and every now and again they rock out and show us that.

The mood is a little more sombre for ‘Hello’, with its country vibe and plaintive lyrics, and that vibe continues with ‘Whipping Boy’. Spike’s voice is all whisky and cigarettes and the audience sing along happily. It’s hard to believe this song is over 35 years old now! There’s also a lovely solo from Guy Griffin, who has been lurking in the shadowy side of the stage far too much this evening.

One thing you notice at a Quireboys gig is that unlike many rock concerts, there are a large amount of women present, and at this point one of them calls out for ‘Roses And Rings’. It’s not in the setlist but, you know, this is The Quireboys so they play it anyway and follow it with ‘Reason For Leaving’. There is a lot of yee-hawing and arm-waving happening here in the crowd, it’s that kind of night.

‘Black-Eyed Son’ is another song from the new album “Amazing Disgrace” and is another with rock n roll piano to the forefront from Keith Weir. Spike does his unique side-to-side dance that would have anybody else falling over in a heap of mangled arms and legs, and flings the mike stand around like a Tasmanian devil. Careful now Spike, you could have someone’s eye out with that! But seriously, if this is the quality of songs on the new album then it really is going to be worth checking out.

They finish the main set with 3 of their better-known songs, ‘Hey You’ (which Spike proudly tells us they performed on Top Of The Pops, I bet The Clan are jealous!), ‘Sweet Mary Jane’ and finally ‘7 O’clock’ which just might be the ultimate party song? Oh no, wait a minute, because for the encore we get ‘I Don’t Love You Anymore’ which is my personal favourite Quireboys song and which sees a veritable forest of waving arms and a proper choir of singalong voices.

Then finally of course they remind us why they are the ultimate party band with ‘Sex Party’ and we all remember why we love The Quireboys. It’s because their happy-go-lucky attitude and songs are totally infectious and just for a few hours we can forget our troubles and party along with them.

Words by Jo Crosby
Photography by Johann Wierzbicki