Review by Jo Lloyd, photos by Mark Lloyd
Kicking off proceedings were everyone’s favourite rockneys Chas & Dave in their finest clobber, pork pies and all. Considering this was an arena gig, the duo did their best to make it feel like an intimate gig playing in front of just a modest black backdrop. A guy sitting next to me summed it up perfectly stating “It’s just like a proper cockney knees up” and that’s what it was, a no frills, genuine performance.
Their music is infectious and their on stage chemistry is obvious as they completely won the crowd over with their geezer charm. Members of the audience were loving the show, many even dressing up as stereotypical cockneys and ‘Rabbit’ even saw a giant bunny dancing in the aisles. The impossibly tongue twisting ‘Diddlum Song’ was a huge favourite and closer ‘The Sideboard Song’ went down a storm.
After years of playing Birmingham’s LG Arena for their pre Christmas gig, this year saw Status Quo play their first gig at the newly revamped and renamed Barclaycard Arena. ”We always thought we had the best gig in Birmingham up the road,” announces frontman Francis Rossi, referring to the NEC, ”but this is better. I can see more of you.”
Looking relaxed after their day’s shopping and being herded onto the escalators in the Bullring, Quo rose to the occasion and launched into their traditional opener of ‘Caroline’ as the crowd stood as one. It wasn’t long until affable frontman Francis Rossi exchanged his quips with the crowd making his droll remarks.
Although this was the first time I’d seen the crudely nicknamed “panto Quo” I was pleasantly surprised by how Rossi and Parfitt, backed by bassist John ‘Rhino’ Edwards, keyboard player Andy Bown and new drummer Leon Cave took on the haters after Rossi had called a day on the Frantic Four reunion shows. The band stormed through their back catalogue, backed by an impressive lighting show and wonderful acoustics and it’s clear to see that they’re just as vivacious now as they were in the beginning. Although the majority of the crowd match the band in age, they also match their boundless energy jumping around and joining in with every single word!
Although Rossi was breaking in a new guitar, after his Telecaster partner of 46 years had been retired, it didn’t seem to affect his playing at all and shone particularly well on ‘In The Army Now’. Stand out track of the evening was definitely ‘Oh Baby’ from the 1972 Piledriver album played with an unbelievable intensity and although Quo have come up against criticism in the past for their three chord choruses, hits like ‘Down Down’ and ‘Whatever you Want’ remain firm favourites.
After leaving the stage following ‘Rockin’ All Over The World’ the crowd were having none of it, and the band were welcomed back for their encore of ‘Burning Bridges’ and ‘Rock N Roll Music’ that bought an incredibly entertaining evening to a close. Whilst Quo may be of retirement age, there’s no doubt that there’s life in the old dog yet and it will be interesting to see how they fare on their more intimate “Aquostic” tour in April.