It is a kind of homecoming. Spike says as much early on in this well-attended and lively gig in the rather too swanky Islington – more of a Soho band aren’t they? Yes, Spike may be a Geordie but he admits London feels like home and he’s spent more years down here than up North. And for me this is the culmination of a gradual drift back into the orbit of these loveable rogues after years apart. I was front and centre during the band’s heyday, the new year’s eve bashes at The Marquee Club, headlining The Dominion on the back of a couple of singles, the classic band-as-gang they were like a British Guns N’ Roses you could have a pint with without the threat of assault.

After really enjoying The Quireboys’ set at the High Voltage festival the other year it made me realise what a great band they still are and the release of the spiffing “Beautiful Curse” album was the final push I needed to rejoin the (Sex) party. Of course the line-up is very different from the early days but to paraphrase Mark E Smith of The Fall, if it’s Spike and your nan on spoons, it’s still The Quireboys. He doesn’t look any different, apart from an ever-expanding bandana – is there any hair under there at all, we all wonder? Anyway, the twinkle in the eye, the twirling of the mic and the cheeky humour are all still very much in evidence tonight.

In front of cameras filming for a live DVD Spike and the band are in fine form and benefit from a fantastic sound. Keith Weir‘s lush and playful keys are the bedrock of the band’s classic rhythm and blues stew and they fill the Academy with good vibes from start to finish. What really surprises and pleases me about tonight’s set is that it showcases more than The Quireboys‘ famous debut and the new album, with several tracks I’m not familiar with. Also, despite their reputation for never veering far from The Faces‘ template of their early work they display a fine array of styles and moods. ‘Homewreckers and Heartbreakers’ and ‘This Is Rock ‘N’ Roll’ are both feisty rockers which are dispatched early on in the set, the former a real surprise as I figured it for an encore, such is its power. The Quireboys mix it up with A soulful ‘Mona Lisa Smiled’ and A classy ’27 Years’ before a run of tracks from “A Bit Of What You Fancy”. You’d think this would be a highlight, but the crowd seem to love every track and as good as songs like ‘Hey You’ and ‘I Don’t Love You Any More’ are you can’t say the band are trading on their past as every song is greeted with great enthusiasm by the now well-oiled crowd (well I was drunk anyway).

Of course, ‘7 O’clock’ closes the set and ‘Sex Party’ gets an airing in the encore and despite my slight resistance to their lyrical lunk headedness I can’t help raising my glass and singing along like a fool. By this time I’ve bumped into some very old friends and someone is getting another round in, and really what better band to soundtrack that than The Quireboys?

A top night out. That DVD will be worth seeing.

The Quireboys – Official Website