Spike's Free House: borderline brilliant
Venue: Borderline. London
Quireboys mainman leads celebration of Frankie Miller and Andy Fraser
This was initially supposed to be a celebration of Frankie Miller. But the recent death of Andy Fraser, who was due to be the bassist in the band, meant it also became a memorial to him. Whatever the motivation for this gig, it's a brilliant night.
The band strike the right balance between disciplined and relaxed. They're rehearsed enough to ensure everyone onstage is feeding from the same trough but there's an instinctive spontaneity that captures the spirit in which Miller always drove his music.
Opening with Be Good To Yourself, the band are quickly into a joyful groove, with Luke Morley's guitar amply complemented by Mark Stanway's keyboard playing. The way in which the Thunder and Magnum stalwarts interact is typical of what makes the Free House so special. The pair have an expressive freedom, enhanced by Simon Kirke's astonishingly simple virtuosity. And Quireboys bassist Nick Mailing is clearly unfazed by having to step in for the mighty Fraser.
Upfront, Spike — the mastermind behind the project to keep Miller's legacy alive — is loving the whole event, as his unmistakably worn throat chromatics lead the band into Wishing Well, one of five Free classics given a rapturous overhaul.