Review by Ian Savage
Summer has conspicuously given way to winter in Birmingham tonight. The plunging temperatures and relentless drizzle outside the O2 and the frankly obscene bar prices within combining to keep many punters from venturing out early to catch Norwich’s Bad Touch. A youthful five-piece with a nice line in classic rock, they take the diminished crowd in hand with a tight musical performance and frontman Stevie’s infectious enthusiasm. Inviting comparisons with modern ‘throwbacks’ like Airbourne and Black Spiders just as readily as with veterans such as Faster Pussycat and Poison, tunes like ‘Good On Me’ and ‘New Day’ pull the few dozen present firmly onside and provide a solid opening to the evening, even if they are (genuinely) the third band this reviewer has seen in a week pull Led Zeppelin’s ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’ out of the trick bag.
Occasionally gliding on the wings of their own inspiration, sometimes falling on the cliche tripwires left by the likes of Cinderella and Def Leppard, Sweden’s Bonafide look more comfortable onstage from the off. A few short and sharp shots of AC/DC-infused moonshine open the set up, making Southern-rock-flavoured current single ‘Harmony’ slightly turgid by comparison, albeit with a very nicely-done off-mic last chorus providing a little intimacy to proceedings. The final third of their set incorporates some nice vocal harmonies on ‘Can’t Get Through’ before they bring out Bad Touch in a display of bonhomie for the aptly-titled closer ‘Fill Your Head With Rock’. Big and stupid in places, sure, but a LOT of fun.
There’s a cheer as five men walk onstage, and an even bigger cheer for the sixth – it might say ‘Quireboys’ on the tickets, but frontman Spike is very obviously the centre of attention for many here. He plays up to it straight out of the blocks, with moves that Jagger or Tyler often fail to pull off convincingly these days – flanked by the guitar powerhouse of Paul Guerin and Guy Griffin he ploughs through ‘Black Mariah’ and new album opener ‘Too Much Of A Good Thing’ to a rapturous response, despite clearly not having totally memorised all of the new tunes’ lyrics yet.
The Quireboys are masters of the two-guitar interplay resplendent on Rolling Stones records, and the band as a whole expertlPreviewy take and leave space both in the mix and on the stage. Crowd-pleasers come thick and fast (‘There She Goes’, ‘This Is Rock and Roll’) mixed with new favourites (‘Homewreckers and Heartbreakers’ in particular stretches out its sinewy slide guitar groove to get heads bobbing across the room), and it’s hard not to be endeared by the ‘boys obvious camaraderie – the ‘gypsy rockers’ tag is more than just a convenient hook to hang a bandana on.
There’s some looseness in the performance, especially from the frontman, and a slightly awkward blend of spontaneity and pre-rehearsal – the mid-song flicking through floor-bound lyric sheets in particular takes away from the organic feel of the show – but as they launch into the bittersweet ‘I Don’t Love You Anymore’ none of that matters. They follow up with breakthrough single ‘Hey You’ and the equally worthy ‘Beautiful Curse’ to illustrate that they’re within easy reach of the magic of their glory days and are still THE band to beat for dirty, bluesy UK rock ‘n’ roll.
‘7 O’Clock’ rounds out the set before the requisite encore of ‘Mother Mary’ and ‘Don’t Come Around No More’ send the crowd home sweaty and satisfied. There’s few bands better than The Quireboys on their night – they may not have been fully firing on all cylinders for this one, but there’s still not many places I’d rather have been.