Spike and the boys party like it’s Friday night
Over the last couple of years, the re-emergence and continued renaissance of Last Great Dreamers has been one of the most pleasing things in British Rock. No longer the Next Big Things like they were back in 1994 when the debut cool of “Retrosexual” came out, they are now simply one of the finest writers of pop rock hooks we have on these shores. 45-minutes tonight is ample time to prove it too. “No. 1 Wonderboy” stomps like an angry child on a Sunny Delight binge, “Ashtray Eyes” has all the lip curling swagger you could wish for and “You Don’t Work” takes its chorus and buries its way into your brain. Like some glorious mix between Dogs D’amour and T-Rex, LGD – led as ever by main men Marc Valentine and Slyder who supplies the quickfire bubblegum leads here – have a seemingly effortless way of writing catchy anthems like their (almost) eponymous signature , “Last Great Dreamer” and the souped up glam of the closing “Dope School”. In between all this there is what The Beatles would sound like if they played like The Ramones repackaged and called “The Way We Collide” and they even manage to engender something of a singalong in “White Light, Black Heart” just for kicks. Indeed, you suspect that pretty much everything with Last Great Dreamers is for fun, these days. They spent too long out in the wilderness not to enjoy every last second now they are back.
When a man with the raspiest voice you can imagine shouts these words. “We’re The Quireboys, and this is rock n roll” it can only mean one thing. The boys, as someone once said, are back in town.
Back, this time, with a slightly different line up (surely there is only MV left in the land that hasn’t been in the band at some point?!) this version put out an album last year that was a little bit good. So good in fact, was “Twisted Love” that it was record of the year on this very site.
Handy, then that they play three from it. The title track with its understated Stones-isms, “Gracie B” and the funky “Breaking Rocks” are thoroughly deserving of their place in the set, but elsewhere, the focus is on the past.
Getting on for thirty years ago a very different version of the band – only he of the raspy voice, Spike and guitarist Guy Griffin are still here – stuck out a record that remains one of the most seminal of MV’s life. To put “A Bit Of What You Fancy” in context, in 1990 as kids we hadn’t a clue about The Faces, about The Stones and Humble Pie, and this was the record that opened that gateway.
And it was brilliant. It still is. Which is why “Hey You”, “Misled” and the rest are greeted with glee from the assembled throng. It’s also why the ballad “I Don’t Love You Anymore” and the country strum of “Roses And Rings” sound so fresh, still.
There’s a smattering from other records too. “Too Much Of A Good Thing” and “Mona Lisa Smiled” are genuine highlights and “This Is Rock N Roll” should be their epitaph. Surely, after all, no one wears a bandana with the panache of Spike these days.
After a drunken singalong to “Seven O’Clock” its encore time and the (these days) near local Spike tears into “I Love This Dirty Town” like he means it, “White Trash Blues” is a timely reminder of how good the second album was before things, ahem, reach a climax with “Sex Party” – still as dumb as ever, but try not liking it.
Tonight, however is more than just about good songs. It’s a realisation that after all this time, this line up of The Quireboys might be the best they have ever sounded live. And more than anything else, they are like they always say, are rock n roll.
Pictures courtesy of Phil Archer