It's not a good time of the year to be pulling pranks on a train, but that was what happened last night when I was waiting outside the venue. It didn't affect me, directly but a mate who was going to the gig also (and for whom I had the ticket) was detained by a daft kid who decided to pull the emergency brake some distance from Liverpool. That caused a l-o-o-o-n-g delay, and as I did not have my phone on me that night (sod's law, the one time you forget to take it, something happens!) I could only guess at the problem while shivering my extremities on a rather cold December night.
As a result, we missed Wolfsbane who, with their full original line-up including Blaze, were supporting. I would have liked to see them but it will have to be another time, if they keep it going. We only just made it in time for the headline band and the lower floor of the Academy was very full. (Local heroes Echo & The Bunnymen were also playing at the larger upstairs part, so the place was very busy this night.)
The Quireboys opened with 'Mayfair', one of their really old songs that even pre-dates the 'A Bit of What You Fancy' album, which this tour is celebrating. After a few newer songs then, the band proceeded to deliver every track from that album in the correct sequence. It went down great with this crowd, many of whom were probably of a similar age to myself and when singer Spike mentioned the club 'Stairways' in Birkenhead, he got a bigger cheer than perhaps he bargained for (!) It's his down-to-earth charm which holds the crowd in thrall, you cannot help but like the guy. When it comes to singing, his voice is a little more gravelly even than it was 20 years ago, but it is strongly imbued with passion; he is a soul singer in a rock 'n' roll band. It's that quality which makes him so compelling live, when delivering ballads such as 'I Don't Love You Any More' you really believe in it. Between songs, of course, he is cracking jokes and revelling in the crowd banter.
It's as well he connects so well with the crowd, since I reckon most of us couldn't see him properly! I was about two-thirds of the way back and could only see glimpses of a red bandana; the lower floor is not too great for viewing unless you're up at the front, and it doesn't help when the crowd all appear to be tall and lanky! (I'm 5' 11" so not exactly short, even so I struggled to see!) After playing the entire 'Fancy' album they ended the main set, before the encore which included Blaze reappearing for a none-too-serious rendition of 'Sex Party'.
A lot has happened in the 20 years since that album was recorded, but for those couple of hours, it was 1990 once again. Most professional rock writers review gigs such as this with a dismissive statement: 'like Grunge never happened'. It was indeed, but that, in the opinion of this unprofessional writer, is far from a bad thing. Excellent gig and it's great to see Spike and his mates still enjoying themselves.