Live Review: The Quireboys – Wolverhampton

Live Review: The Quireboys - KK's Steel Mill, Wolverhampton
11th May 2024
Support: Matty James Cassidy & The Real Villains, Willie Dowling and his Invisible Band
Words & Photos: Scott Clarke

It was a hot evening as huge queues formed outside the doors of the best music venue in the midlands, KK’s Steel Mill once again for another evening of music goodness. There was a three act showcase in store for the Wolverhampton faithful tonight (as well as for the small Irish contingent that were gathered in the corner of the room) that included Matty James Cassidy, Willie Dowling (pulling double duty) and The Quireboys.

First up to take the stage and to get the crowd into fine voice were Irish rockers Matty James Cassidy & The Real Villains.

Opening up the set with an elongated instrumental, exercising the fingers and talents of the three piece the whole set oozed Rock & Roll. Matty took to the mic to launch into A World Away, the track a high tempo number with punk undertones, the pace continues as we go straight into The Road to No Town.

Photo Credit: Scott Clarke Photography

The set is made up from a few years worth of Matty James’ material and it’s quite varied in tone, style and influence whilst remaining consistently rock and roll. Contradiction in Terms brings a heavier, grittier guitar tone, the pauses in the verses give Matty chance to lead the track with his voice before the instrumentals kicks back in, it also gives a chance to throw a little harmonica in the mix.

Despite a few technical difficulties on stage, that required a quick guitar change, the spirit of the show was never dampened as Matty took up the mic and conversed with the crowd during the pause, managing to find the Irish fans who had all congregated in the one corner of the venue before getting things back on track with Old Souls.

Photo Credit: Scott Clarke Photography

Next up we have Trouble, this was harkening back to last year and a release with Tyla J Pallas as The Balladmongrels. Evil Under the Moon, How the Beautiful Fall follow culminating with Same Old Me and Up In Smoke.

It’s an enjoyable and solid set, the group has obvious talents and the deep vocals reminded me a little of Nick Cave at times. Emotive, story driven lyrics and instrumentals that are very rock and roll leave us with a perfect opener for what’s to come.

Photo Credit: Scott Clarke Photography

Second on the list of tonights acts (and not for the last time tonight) Willie Dowling and his Invisible Band take to the stage to provide KK’s with a change of pace. The two piece consisting of piano and bass alongside a drum track give us a slightly different show compared to what usually graces KK’s stage.

It was obviously a static affair but the energy of the performance was still there in the tickling of the ivories as Willie’s fingers danced across the keys as he promoted piano driven album The Simpleton that is due for release this year.

Photo Credit: Scott Clarke Photography

The perhaps controversial and politically charged 30 minute set consisted of The Cure, Long Drop Down, I Killed My Imaginary Friend, Sadie Goldman, title track from the new album of this very year The Simpleton, Fuck You Goodbye – which as we learn from Willie he has reappropriated several times depending on the political party and agenda that it mostly fits and closing out the set by revisiting very early material in one of the earliest songs written for The Grip, The Ballad of Vera Daydream.

Willie’s form of humour and showmanship is part of his repertoire with the crowd throughout the set, whether it’s to your taste or not this style of presentation can be a dividing one, some like it, others probably not so much, but the musicianship on display is evident and its clear from a set that predominantly focuses on the future rather than playing a lot of tracks from Willie’s previous exploits that this multi instrumentalist song writer is focused on making new roads rather than retreading old ground.

Photo Credit: Scott Clarke Photography

It was a poignant evening that alongside new material from The Quireboys, also served as a tribute to the sadly departed co-founder and good friend of lead singer Spike, Guy Bailey. The Quireboys have a new album due for release consisting of songs that were written along with Guy before he passed and are recording and releasing it, fulfilling his wishes.

In support of the new album Wardour Street, due for release this year and along with a hefty helping of tracks from the 1990 release, A Bit of What You Fancy, the set was a riotous evening of rock and roll orchestrated by the ever flamboyant frontman Spike, who is the heart and soul of the Quireboys.

Coming out with a pint in hand and moving around the stage like a spring chicken, wielding the mic stand around like a weapon, Spike has lost none of his gusto and bravado as he puts on a masterclass of being a frontman of a rock and roll band.

Photo Credit: Scott Clarke Photography

As Spike shouts, “We’re The Quireboys and this is rock and roll!” the band launch into Jeez Louise, the latest single and one of the tracks from the new album, it is the first to greet the patrons and immediately is full of everything to come tonight, riffs galore, fast piano, harmonica and Spike’s unique grizzled vocals that still resonate the same as ever.

Willie Dowling returns to the stage from his own set to retake his place behind the piano in place of the absent Chris Johnstone, alongside Nigel Mogg on bass, Rudy Richman on drums with the legendary Luke Morley of Thunder taking guitar duties.

Can’t Park Here, a showing from Bitter Sweet & Twisted and Misled, the first from A Bit of What you Fancy round out the high octane opening assault, if the crowd weren’t already buzzing, they certainly were now as the first 15 minutes went back and forth between new and old.

Photo Credit: Scott Clarke Photography

It’s an evening of going back through old memories in between the songs as the members reminisce over their time spent together.

Sweet Mary Ann with whoops of Yee Haw! (Along with a faux pas from Spike as he asks if “...Wolverhampton are even in the Premiership?” When he talks about his Newcastle football team, something that got the whole crowd laughing) and Whippin’ Boy represent the bread of A Bit of What you Fancy sandwich with the filling being another delicious track from the upcoming album in Raining Whiskey, which as Spike points out is the first time they’ve played it, since the last time a few nights ago.

The humour and good time feel good nature of the performance shines through with the banter and interactions with the crowd and elevates the performance more from being songs played at the audience to being a show inclusive of the fans. After a competition between members who had made more appearances on Top of the Pops, another 3 song mix up from eras is next with Tramps & Thieves, from Bitter Sweet & Twisted, Hey You, from a Bit of What You Fancy before another new track in the groovy I Think I Got It Wrong Again. Throughout the night, the structure of the setlist is well orchestrated.

Photo Credit: Scott Clarke Photography

Ode To You slows things right down and King of New York round out the contributions from the Bitter Sweet & Twisted record before we delve once again to the new stuff for Happy, a track title that seems to embody the overall atmosphere in the room right about now.

Roses & Rings, There She Goes Again and 7 O’Clock are met with great applause, cheers and a round of singing along as we go back in time to the legendary 90’s album that made the Quireboys to bring a curtain down on the set.

It’s been a nice mix overall of old and new, a tribute to times gone by as well as a look forward to things to come. The lights dim once again as the band return to stage with Like it or Not before finally closing out the night with Mayfair and I Don’t Love You Anymore.

Photo Credit: Scott Clarke Photography

As I mingled and made my way through the crowd tonight, it was clearly made up with a majority of people of a certain age who have followed the band, or their own individual exploits, for years. There were several T-Shirts, some well worn and several sporting the iconic bandana we associate with Spike, yet as the clock was turned back in some respects for all in attendance, even those on stage, it was the quality of the new material that blended in so seamlessly with the older tracks that was evident to the style and test of time of the band. Feet were tapping and hands were raised as a great time was had by all.

Photo Credit: Scott Clarke Photography

Photo credits: Scott Clarke Photography

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