Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The London Quireboys at the Bowery Electric

Jonathan "Spike" Gray
At age 17, vocalist Jonathan "Spike" Gray moved from Newcastle upon Tyne in the north of England to London in the south and formed a rock and roll band there in 1984. The group originally was named the Choirboys after the 1977 movie, but soon became the Queerboys. The Queerboys built a following, but by 1987 the band's controversial name resulted in the cancellation of too many engagements. The band was booked to perform at the Reading Festival under the obligation that the name would change. The Queerboys became the Quireboys and released a debut album in 1990; in the United States, the band was named the London Quireboys. The Quireboys broke up in 1993 but Spike assembled a new lineup briefly in 1995 and again in 2001. After more than 20 personnel changes, the band presently consists of Spike, guitarists Guy Griffin and Paul Guerin, keyboardist Keith Weir and drummer Phil Martini . The London Quireboys' 12th album, St. Cecilia and the Gypsy Soul, was released on March 30, 2015.

With guyliner around his eyes, a long kerchief covering his head and spilling down his back and stage moves a la Mick Jagger swagger, Spike looked like the leader of a glam band. Ironically, however, the London Quireboys performed an acoustic sit-on-a-stool set tonight at the Bowery Electric. Throughout the unplugged-style performance, Spike sang folky-bluesy songs with a Rod Stewart rasp, backed by two twanging acoustic guitarists and a keyboardist. Together they echoed 1970s British rock and roll outfits like the Faces and Mott the Hoople. The Quireboys performed acoustic honky-tonk renditions of its earlier catalogue, including "Roses and Rings", "Beautiful Curse", "Hates To Please" and "Monte Cassino (Lady Lane)," as well as some newer songs. The set ended with Steve Conte of the New York Dolls and Kyf Brewer of Company of Wolves joining the band onstage for "7 O'clock." Even within the unplugged setting, the London Quireboys rocked -- only it was a bit softer.

Visit the London Quireboys at