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Concert Review: The Quireboys, Homewreckers, and Heartbreakers UK Tour 2008

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What better way is there to promote a good honest rollicking rock ‘n’ roll release than by taking it out on tour to the pubs and clubs?

When three of the best all have new albums to promote simultaneously and then decide to tour together, the result can only be an event that any self respecting rock fan just shouldn’t miss. So it proved when the line up for The Quireboys, Homewreckers, and Heartbreakers UK Summer Tour was announced. Not only did you get the superb Quireboys but two quality supporting acts in Dan Baird’s Homemade Sin, a band worth walking miles to see, along with Sweden’s own honky-tonk bar room rockers The Diamond Dogs. In fact, having two keyboard backed bands could have proved a touch of overkill but the set was perfectly split with the Dogs opening and Dan sandwiched in between them and the Quireboys. Clearly, they all had a ball too with The Quireboys enigmatic leader Spike often taking stage with Dan Baird to rock out the latter’s old Georgia Satellite number “Battleship Chains”. The compliment often being returned when Homemade Sin guitarist Warner Hodges, of Jason and the Scorchers fame, appeared during “Sex Party” with the Quireboys.

The Diamond Dogs are a well established outfit formed in the early 1990s in Sormland in Sweden. Any band with a keyboard player who calls himself the Duke of Honk gives you more than just an indication where the music will take you and sure enough the sense of fun when appearing live is cleverly captured in the studio. This is primarily a live band who have achieved the difficult crossover from stage to studio managing to capture the rawness of their sound on disc. They have several albums worth checking out and their latest It’s Most Likely The Diamond Dogs contains the usual atmospheric and heady mixture of smoke filled basement bars alongside switches of pace with the rather overdrawn but effective “Casanova’s Cryin”. Another stand out track is the slide blues sleaze of “Far From Getting Close”. Maybe the highlight of the album is the superb “Ladies & Gents (Ballad Of A Dog)” which has more than a hint of the late great Ronnie Lane’s earthy, honest feel to it.

Of course it is Ronnie’s old band, The Faces who provided much of the early inspiration for The Quireboys. It has to be remembered that once upon a time, before Rod Stewart went off to do his Atlantic Crossing type albums, The Faces were the best live rock ‘n’ roll lads’ band around. There is no doubt that the Quireboys have taken on that huge mantle and have actually built on it with their own swagger and booze induced mischief. Spike, looking like some kind of vagabond character from an Oliver Twist theatre production, has an onstage charisma that is second to none. He struts, sways, and staggers across the stage demanding your attention whilst leading the party with a voice that is rock ‘n’ roll worn, shredded, and whisky drenched.

It is almost impossible to write a review about the Quireboys without saying that it is one of rocks mysteries why they have not yet achieved the household recognition that other, perhaps less capable and certainly less entertaining bands, have. Along the rocky road they have had their moments such as supporting the Rolling Stones at the UK’s Castle Donington Festival in the early nineties. Formed back in 1986 they had early success when their album A Bit Of What You Fancy went in at number two in both the UK and Japanese album charts. Their music powerfully tapped into the booze, the women and the Saturday night debauchery in an intoxicating mix of all things rock ‘n’ roll. Timing is the key though and for a while The Quireboys were all but lost in a changing market until they returned seemingly more powerful than ever releasing This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll – Spike’s characteristic on stage introduction.

By dwelling on what they could have been, of course, only detracts from what they actually are and that is one of the most excitingly uplifting rock bands you could ever wish to spend a couple of hours being entertained by. I once saw them supporting UFO in Cambridge and I have to say they all but blew them off the stage. Tonight all the highlights are there “The Finer Stuff”, “This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll”, “Tramps and Thieves” and “Hey You” are standout moments. New material from the Homewreckers & Heartbreakers album particularly “One For The Road” also go down well. This is a band that makes you want to neck a bottle of brandy, quit your job, and go out on the road. If only it was as easy as Spike makes it appear. Whilst we are talking of him check out his recent solo album It’s A Treat To Be Alive. If you want to hear heart rendering ballads delivered as only a voice like his can then this is the album for you.

So what’s the connection between The Quireboys and Dan Baird? Well not only has Dan been putting in some mighty fine performances with his Homemade Sin and with Eric Amble’s Yayhoos but he has been busy carving out quite a reputation as a producer/engineer. It is Dan that captures the full on live qualities of The Quireboys on this their latest album and it is Dan who also puts on a great show tonight. His own self titled release is right up there with the very best that he has ever done with any of the bands he has been associated with. The sound quality is superb, right from the off with “Damn Thing To Be Done”, and will no doubt have musicians knocking at his door asking him to mix their work. Dan Baird has a loyal following and it is easy to see why. He puts in a characteristically enthusiastic performance broken only by moments of great humour. Homemade Sin have produced a CD that would grace any rockers collection and seeing Dan up there on the stage of a pub putting down rock exactly how and where it should be is a joy to behold.

In hindsight of course the most obvious thing that held these three bands together, apart from providing some of the best live music you could hope to see and the fact that all three are signed to JCPL, was their interaction. That matey interaction extends well into the audience as well and you honestly feel you could spend a great and memorable day in the pub with them all – that is, of course, if you could stand the pace. You’re right Spike, gigs like this make you even more aware that it really is a treat to be alive.

The Diamond Dogs – It’s Most Likely The Diamond Dogs and Dan Baird & Homemade Sin and The Quireboys – Homewreckers & Heartbreakers – albums are all available on JCPL.

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About Jeff Perkins