Three good-time rock ‘n’ roll bands in a little over three hours: that’s the deal on this warm Sunday night at London’s Borderline. To make sure that everything fits, Sweden’s Diamond Dogs take to the stage at 7.20pm, catching even the earliest arrivals off-guard.
It’s been a fair few years since I last saw the band (in their Stevie Klasson days), and they’re just as much fun as I remember. Sulo is a confident, engaging frontman/bandleader, and sax player Magic Gunnarsson helps give the band a soulful edge over tonight’s main attractions. It’s a shame that Sad To Say I’m Sorry has to be aborted due to a snare problem, but the manner in which it’s dealt with – a quick change of song and some perfect timing – is impressive.
Midway through Diamond Dogs’ set, Dan Baird & Homemade Sin saunter into the venue, guitars on backs. They’ve literally just touched down in the UK after a brief jaunt to Scandinavia. With no time for a soundcheck, they spend five minutes at the start of their set tweaking monitor levels and bantering – mainly about the fact that Dan gave his favourite blue hat to Santa Claus, so be sure to look out for that next Christmas.
They eventually let out the clutch and speed off with I Dunno. It’s a decent enough set, albeit much shorter than usual, but I’ve enjoyed Dan’s gigs a lot more than this. The sound is a shade too loud, guitar problems cause a couple of songs to lose power, and Warner seems a bit subdued – I miss the all-consuming grin that was such a big part of the Scorchers show I saw a few weeks back. On the plus side, the new songs work well, as does the occasional addition of (Quireboy) Keith Weir’s piano, and the on-stage humour reaches Yayhoos-ish levels of rapport.
Judging by the audience reaction, the Quireboys are tonight’s big draw, and I can’t imagine that many people go home disappointed with a set full of old singles and choice cuts from their new album, Homewreckers & Heartbreakers, a return to form after the sludgy-sounding Well Oiled. Curious omissions, however, are Louder, the anthemic stand-out track from the new record, and anything at all from This Is Rock & Roll.
As the set progresses, the stage fills up with guests. Warner (now his usual beaming self) plays guitar on I Love This Dirty Town; Dan shakes a tambourine on Mona Lisa Smiled and adds some backing vocals to Late Nite Saturday Call; Magic brings a touch of brass to There She Goes Again; Sulo duets with Spike on Sweet Mary Ann; and Keith Christopher does all kinds of things, some of them even musical, during Sex Party. There’s so much huggin’ and kissin’ going on between performers that I’m not sure where to put my eyes. It’s clear that lifelong friends have been made on this tour.
The smallest venue I’ve seen the Quireboys play, the Borderline is their ideal home, though at times like this, in the midst of a sell-out crowd, it’s not mine. Lord, it’s hot. Get me some water. Get me some air. Get me an air freshener while you’re there. My nostrils pick up the occasional waft of someone else’s sweat/deodorant combo, though not as often as they’re assaulted by the scent of fart, which makes me gag at least a dozen times. Silent guffing in company = the original homemade sin. Ya mucky pup.