Ok, so the rating above might have given away my review here, but if there is one perfect festival act, it has to be the Quireboys. Sure, only lead singer Spike and guitarist Guy Griffin remains from the original line-up, but this line-up sure knows how to handle good time rock ‘n’ roll in the vein of The Rolling Stones and The Faces. Besides, guitar player Paul Guerin has been with the band for 11 years now, so he almost counts as an original member. Well, he’s very important for the Quireboys’ sound, at least. I can’t think of a better way to start the festival than grooving along with Spike and his band in the evening sun with a beer in my hand. The band kicked off their set with a newie, “Too Much Of A Good Thing” from their 2013 Beautiful Curse album. It might not be one of their most recognizable songs, but the groove and swing is impossible to not surrender to – the Quireboys had won by the first chord. When that one went straight into “There She Goes Again” from their debut album A Bit Of What You Fancy (1990), nothing could stop this well oiled (sic!) groove machine from kicking our butts big time. “This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll”, the title track from their 2001 comeback album, has turned into a “modern” Quireboys classic and by the looks of the audience, everybody owns that album. “Mona Lisa Smiled” might be something of a ballad-type of song on their album Homewreckers & Heartbreakers from 2008, but live it turns into a groove monster deluxe and the striking melody makes us sing along with big smiles on our faces – what a fantastic song it is, easily one of their best and no Quireboys-gig is complete without it. “Whippin’ Boy” is a slow blues track, but it doesn’t set anything at halt at all, we groove along with the band on this darker piece and I wouldn’t want to be without it. “I Don’t Love You Anymore” is probably the Quireboys biggest hit ever. The 1990 ballad was all over the place back when, but it has nothing to do what so ever with all the Bon Jovi / Europe type of power ballads that was around then – this is a ROCK ballad and boy, Spike & co. even manage to make a ballad swing. Do I have to mention that we all sang our throats sore? The Bob Rock produced Bittersweet And Twisted from 1993 might have a reputation for being the band’s big flop, but in reality, the album was about to follow up a masterpiece and that can only go one way. It’s an overlooked album that deserved a better destiny and therefore it’s great that the guys at least play one song off that record. Tonight’s choice was “Tramps And Thieves” and it worked like a charm – killer track. But it would be a lie to try to say anything else than it’s the songs from the debut that goes down the best, especially the hits. “Hey You” lifts the roof off Sweden Rock, of course. Yes, I know it’s an outdoor festival, but you get the idea – if there ever was a party track, that has to be it. A happy surprise is that the following song “Beautiful Curse” almost gets the same treatment from the crowd. I’m starting to believe that the newer Quireboys-records has found a home at many fans’ houses. “Sweet Mary Anne” is written for the stage and when the song burst into action after a slow intro, the whole crowd goes wild. “I Love This Dirty Town”, also from Homewreckers & Heartbreakers, has a heavy groove that really should work like a charm live, but for some reason it doesn’t kick as much ass as I had thought. But that didn’t matter because the ending with the band’s trademark “7 O’Clock” and encore “Sex Party” made sure that we left the gig completely rocked and well. The only mistake might have been “I Love This Dirty Town” and if I was to decide, I would have them playing “Misled” instead. “Misled” is a gem and should never be left out of the set. Also, part of me like the fact that the Quireboys rocked us at a pretty early hour (they went on 9 pm), but the truth is, I can’t think of a better headline act for the first half-day. D.A.D. held that spot, but in my book, that’s where the Quireboys belong. Well, it’s a matter of opinion and no matter what, the Quireboys were awesome tonight and it’s easy to get infected by Spike and the guys honesty and love for playing rock ‘n’ roll. Don’t miss them if they play in a town near you.
You wanna talk contrasts? Well, here’s one: I went directly from the Quireboys happy and groovy party rock to watch Evergrey play. “Happy” is not the way I’d like to describe Evergrey’s metal and frankly, this is not my kind of hard rock at all. But for some reason, I really like Evergrey and I have done so since I got the fantastic Recreation Day (2003) album from a friend many years ago. Now, Evergrey’s career has been somewhat up and down since that album and even though no album has been bad, some of them has left me underwhelmed. But with Torn from 2008, the band was back in action again and 2011’s Glorious Collision put them back as a big name – at least for me. Last year’s fantastic Hymns For The Broken proved that Evergrey are still a big force to be reckoned with and I had looked forward to watching them play songs from that album. When the band opened with the first single of the new album, the brilliant “King Of Errors”, I could hear that something was wrong. Not with the guys on stage, but the sound wasn’t very good at all. It sounded cramped and the drums sounded like cookie boxes. Too bad on such a killer tune, but I knew (hoped!) that the sound guy would make everything alright. The second song, “Leave It All Behind Us”, unfortunately the only song from Glorious Collision this night, also suffered from bad sound and it actually took a while to hear which song it was. Two newies, “The Fire” and “Black Undertow” followed and finally, the sound was getting back on track. If the sound was bad, it sure wasn’t anything the affected the crowd as they were right there from go. It was also great to state that the new songs played this night, went down really well. “Blinded” from Recreation Day was great to hear and also “The Masterplan” (In Search Of Truth, 2001) and now the sound problems had been fixed and “A New Dawn” and “Wake A Change” gushed all over us and with the improved sound, these newies really came across well. The atmospheric (if that isn’t a word, it is now…) instrumental “When The Walls Go Down” serves more like an intermission or an intro for the big and bombastic “Recreation Day” and that really hit home. The fantastic “Broken Wings” (Torn) and the almost as fantastic “A Touch Of Blessing” (The Inner Circle, 2004) gives an almost epic atmosphere to the night and when they end the whole thing with the grand ballad-like tune “The Grand Collapse”, epic is the only word I can think of. Too bad about the bad sound in the beginning because otherwise, Evergrey made a great performance and the light show can’t be described as anything other than impressive. The last time I saw them live, at Getaway Rock in 2012 (or was it 2011?) it was in broad daylight and Evergrey played a very good gig, but their epic sound and songs together with the big light show puts the band in the first division as a live act. It’s time for the world to discover this band now. God knows they deserve it.
Photo: Hanna Henrikson