The Quireboys – Waterfront Studio, Norwich. 13th Dec

Words and Photos by Mark Stimpson

I discovered The Quireboys late on in their career and had wanted to see them perform live for some time.

The evening was billed as “Unplugged”. I wasn’t sure if this was by choice or as a result of the band having much of their equipment recently stolen.  Either way this wouldn’t be one of the wild shows for what they are noted.  

Local Band Bad Touch opened the evenings proceedings. I last saw Bad Touch a few weeks ago playing a full on Electric headline set in London as part of their Shake a Leg tour. I loved every minute of it so I was therefore very excited to see their acoustic set. Acoustic sets are a rare event for Bad Touch with lead singer Stevie Westwood declaring at the start that he was a little bit nervous. Their acoustic set is every much as good as their electric, opening with “Waste My Time” and ending nine songs later with 99%. Along the way we are treated to a brief burst of ZZ Tops’s “Sharp Dressed Man”. A song on the play list titled “Free” which turns out to be a cover of “wishing Well” by Free which was awesome. I’ve heard it said say that Bad Touch are too just old school but I think that’s nonsense. There’s a lot to like about this band.

Introduced by the legendary Alan Clayton of Dirty Strangers, The Quireboys take to the stage. Lead singer Spike, Captain Jack Sparrow-esque, in bandanna, waistcost, jeans and pint glass in hand (ok it’s just diet coke) is a true showman, the stage is his. His husky voice, like a car driving on gravel opens with songs from “A Bit of What You Fancy” before a few songs from “Homewreckers and Heartbreakers” which by the way is ten years old this year. Throughout the set there’s a lot of banter. After the second song, Guy Griffin says that he doesn’t know any of the songs on the set list or the words to “Dressed to Kill”. Anyway it turns out that he’s looking at a Bad Touch set list that’s been left on stage. Spike replies that he knows all the words to the songs but he doesn’t always sing them in the right order.  “Whippin’ Boy” (originally written for Tina Turner) and “Mona Lisa Smiled” are superb.

The set finished with “7 O’clock” with spike playing harmonica and the audience singing along. After a short break the band were back on stage with a couple of songs for an encore, the rock ballad “I Don’t Love You Anymore” which has to be one of the best ballads and obligatory “Sex Party”. All too soon it was over. This may have been acoustic but it was definitely one of the best shows of the year.

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