Rock’n’roll is one of those phrases that means everything and nothing all at once. However you choose to define it though, Matty James Cassidy exudes it from every pore. To watch him play songs like “Contradiction In Terms” here is to watch someone who surely was born with a guitar strapped to them. Last year he released an album with Tyla J Pallas under the name The Balladmongrels, and the title track of that one “Trouble” is played here. But he’s long been a solo artist of real skill, as another title cut “Old Souls” underlines. Everything he plays here shines with a filthy glow, though. Whether it is brand new you same old me, or up in smoke which ends his half an hour set, everything here exudes rock’n’roll. He’s here with The Real Villains, which is a different vibe from his solo gig supporting Tyla last year. Indeed, there’s something about a three-piece band that is always so balanced as well. It is a perfect opening to this type of evening.

Here, making an all too rare appearance on the UK live stage, Willie Dowling does as he points out himself look a bit like Jeff Lynne. His songs though, belong only to him. Most of what he plays is from the newer end of his career (which ties in with what CJ Wildheart had said a couple of weeks ago in this very venue when he said there was no chance of a Honeycrack revival because Willie didn’t want to do it) and stuff like “The Cure” and the anti-Brexit “Long Drop Down” are both a lot more politically motivated. Less “Sitting At Home” and more man the barricades you might say. There’s a new single, “The Simpleton”- which bodes well for the upcoming album. Even the older ones like “Fuck You Goodbye have had a bit of a 2024 rebadge (it’s a homage to the election later in the year now). An artist that seemingly wants to look to the future, not the past does finish with his one cover. The Grip album from way back when was a belter and “Vera Daydream” from it still is. Willie Dowling seems reinvigorated and up for the fight here.

The Quireboys have just returned for their encore, and Spike addresses the crowd. “I am The Quireboys singer, like it or not.” He says, and with that, they play “Like It Or Not”. A new song, from their upcoming album, and one that has a whole lot more soul than usual.

Mostly though, this has felt like business as usual. Yes, I am aware that there are two bands knocking around with the name after some shenanigans but look. If Spike’s in a band called The Quireboys then that’s the damn Quireboys.

And even if the band around him may have changed, then he bounds on – probably drunk – with those words, “we are the Quireboys. And this is Rock N Roll.

And it is. My goodness, it is. “Jeez Louise”, their comeback single, and nothing else seems to matter but the fact we’re here to celebrate these songs.

They’ve dusted a few off too and if you haven’t heard “Can’t Park Here” for a while, then it still sounds superb.

It’s one of the returning from the second record. “Tramps And Thieves” a little later, or the wonderfully emotional “King Of New York” chief amongst them.  The latter is particularly important, given that it’s dedicated to founder member of the band Guy Bailey, who died just over a year ago, but who’s spirit is all over this.

But, let us be honest about it, we all need to hear stuff from the debut album. A disclaimer: there’s a new series of Desert Island Discs starting on Radio 4. If I was on it, that record would be in my selection. “Misled”, “Sweet Mary Ann”, “Hey You” and the rest still sound brilliant, too, but then so do the new songs like “Raining Whiskey”.

And that might be because the band are so comfortable. Nigel Mogg, Riki Ratchman, and Dowling (who is subbing for Chris Johnstone) have been in the family for 40 years. It shows.

The newbie is the star name. Luke Morley “of Terraplane” as Spike, who is his natural ebullient self, jokes, is in while he’s at a loose end and he’s as superb as you imagined he would be.

The country-fried “Roses And Rings”, “There She Goes Again” and “Seven O’Clock” end the set, before the encore is to both extremes of their career. The aforementioned new one, before a trot back right to the start for “Mayfair” – their first-ever single.

That leaves just one more. “I Don’t Love You Anymore”, might, given that it’s a ballad initially appear to be an odd choice to end on, but when they do, it really works. It’s a truly superb song.

It does mean there’s no “Sex Party” which is fine, we’re all too old for such things And what we were invited to tonight was way more fun, anyway. This is the official, the original and still the absolute best. And, yes, this was rock n roll.

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