Spike’s Quireboys, Live at O2 Academy, Islington, December 15 2022
Text & Images: Adrian Hextall / (C) MindHex Media
It’s hard not to enjoy this one. The voice of The Quireboys until, after a bitter breakup with his band, he was ousted as lead singer from the group he formed over 30 years ago. Needless to say, the fans weren’t happy and with no knowledge of what was going on behind the scenes at the moment, there’s no denying that Spike, his personality, and most importantly his raspy, whiskey-soaked voice made the name “The Quireboys.” ‘ are just as important’ as Axl Rose is to Guns ‘n’ Roses. Sometimes no substitute will ever be enough.
Always the soldier, always the fighter, Spike vowed to return. Rumors of the reunion of the original line-up of The Quireboys began to circulate and then a gig was announced.
Could it be? Spike, Guy Bailey, Nigel Mogg along with Chris Johnstone and Rudy Richman? The line-up before the band released their debut “A little what you feel like”. The answer is… almost. Guy Bailey, unfortunately not in the best of health, was only able to appear briefly on stage to be embraced to thunderous cheers from the crowd. In its place we have supporting guitar work from Chris McCormack and Chris Heilmann. The former played with his own band 3 Colors Red and most recently The Professionals, the latter Spike’s sparring partner on his solo tours. Besides Mogg, Alan MP, another guitarist who also plays with Mogg in Juvenile Wrecks and does the score on stage, is 3 guitarists, 1 bassist, 1 keyboardist, 1 drummer, 1 barmaid (possibly) and Spike. Not a bad performance, I have to say!
However, before the boys took to the stage, which by the way was a stage with its own bar in a corner decked out with all sorts of alcoholic beverages, Joli Blon, an all-girl Cajun band, appeared. Acoustic guitar, accordion, violin and vocals in a French dialect. An interesting choice for opener, but to do them credit they did enough to warm up the crowd, whose expectations of alcohol-soaked rock and bar room roll were put on hold for about half an hour. Fliss Premru on violin later returned during the headliner’s set.
And so to the headliners, Spike’s Quireboys filled the stage with ease, although Spike was keen to bring their barmaid upstairs, largely because the bar was closed for the first few numbers. No problem for our leader who arrived on stage with a pint and a smile as wide as the sold out venue oh… and also Jimi the Piper performing ‘Amazing Grace’.
For a man who has been performing Quireboys songs for well over 30 years, Spike not only sounds great but looks great too. Whether it’s the 50% blood coursing through his veins or simply the fact that he’s done it regularly over the decades, the boy looks great. High kicks, twirling mic stands, pointing and acknowledging, it seems that each and every member of the audience is individual, everything about Spike oozes rock ‘n’ roll and with the return of Nigel Mogg on bass, the pairing seemed to bring all the energy to the band give them the late 80’s like it was just yesterday.
Nigel certainly didn’t seem to have stopped playing any of the songs in years past, once again making for a very, very welcome addition to the flock. McCormack, MP and Heilmann are seasoned pros and slipped into their roles with ease and to be fair both Chris Johnstone and Rudy Richman who I believe only had 4 days of practice sessions to get back on track did remarkably well too beaten circumstances. Polish it up a bit and the outfit is ready for touring in no time.
Special guests were promised and a friend of the band, Angie Bruyere, flew in from the US especially for the show and joined them on stage for several numbers. Fliss from Joli Blon also returned to give some tracks an edge with her playing. A nice addition to the show and it made some of the songs feel even more intimate as the crowd hung on every word. A few people commented on Angie’s vocals, but since I was comparing Spike pint for pint, I certainly didn’t notice any issues affecting the show.
As the bar began handing out drinks, Spike began inviting members of the audience onto the stage. Now, in this day and age of diversity and inclusivity, you might think that a few of the older, thick-bearded fans could stand up for a shot and a dance…. pfft…yeah right, this is Spike’s Quireboys and this is rock ‘n’ roll…dreams about boys.
If you’ve ever been to a Quireboys show, you know that the hits are the ones that are guaranteed to have an audience sing along, and on “7 O’Clock” and the hugely emotional “I Don’t Love You Anymore,” the crowd experienced every possible gamut of emotions.
While it was undoubtedly a success, it was perfect, not at all BUT if it had been perfect I would have been disappointed. I expect a Quireboys show to make me feel like I’m sitting in a smoky old pub with a broken piano in the corner belting out all the songs we heard in Islington. On that front the band delivered and then some. The crowd and band clearly agreed with me as we got three encores including “Mayfair” which was recorded with lots of people on stage and the new single “Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year” complete with Jimi the Piper on stage. This particular track was recorded for charity and can be purchased here:
We ended with “Sex Party” which probably makes me glad I didn’t step on stage for a drink… who knows where that might have led. All in all, what a way to end 2022. Check out Spike’s website below to see what’s next:
Amazing Grace (with Jimi the Piper)
Can’t park here
man at large
tramps and thieves
She’s starting again
Where have you been?
King of New York
Ode To You (Baby Just Walk) – (with Angie Bruyere)
Last Time (with Angie Bruyere and Fliss Premru)
Roses & Rings (with Fliss Premru)
You Can’t Hide From Your Heart (with Angie Bruyere and Fliss Premru)
Take No Revenge (with Angie Bruyere)
long time coming
take me Home
I do not love you anymore
Fortune (cover by Frankie Miller) (with Angie Bruyere)
Mayfair (The Quireboys Song)
Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year (with Angie Bruyere and Jimi the Piper)