Review by Dean Pedley and photos by Sean Larkin
A little history lesson for our younger readers is in order before we get down to the business at hand. Way back in the 1970’s, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and the MR editorial team were still in short trousers, it was the golden age of double live albums. We had landmark releases such as Thin Lizzy’s Live And Dangerous, Peter Frampton with Frampton Comes Alive!, UFO’s Strangers In The Night and right up alongside them 1977’s Live! by the original twelve bar, three chord, eight legged boogie machine known as Status Quo. Status Quo, I hear you cry, surely not the same band that recorded a single with Manchester United, appeared on Coronation Street and who gave us the hideous ‘Burning Bridges’, ‘Marguerita Time’ and seemingly endless compilations. No, is the simple answer. Although only 50% of the personnel may have changed this is not the same band at all. Status Quo in the 1970’s consisted of Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt together with bassist Alan Lancaster and drummer John Coghlan, the self-styled ‘Frantic Four!’ and in 2013 one of the most unlikely reunions of recent years has finally come to pass.
Revved up rockers The Treatment kick started the evening, this tour being the latest in a series of high profile supports that suggests someone has high expectations for this likeable young band. They are reviewed frequently on here so it is enough to say they went over well and upcoming headline show at Rock City is surely the first of many to follow.
“Tonight…We have the number one rock ‘n’ roll band in the land…Will you welcome…The magnificent STATUS QUO!”
The Jackie Lynton intro sees the curtain fall and stood in front of the drum riser, striking the pose from the cover of 1973’s Hello!, are the Frantic Four, Lancaster’s throbbing bass ushering in ‘Junior’s Wailing’. Unlike the modern day line-up this is much more than just a double act, Rossi and Parfitt allowing their two returning band mates an equal share of the spotlight. In fact Rossi doesn’t open his mouth for fifteen minutes as Lancaster is the sole singer for ‘Junior’s…’, ‘Backwater’ and ‘Just Take Me’, a reminder this was a band that once boasted three lead vocalists. He and Coghlan may not look quite as match fit these days but there is no doubting they belong in this band. Anyone who went expecting to hear the hits will have left perplexed as Quo play just three of their 60-odd singles, ‘In My Chair’, ‘Rain’ and a storming ‘Down Down’. Elsewhere they dig deep into the back catalogue across a ninety minute set that is drawn entirely from the years 1970 – 76, and there is not a keyboard anywhere in sight.
With his purposeful swing shuffle holding down the backline Coghlan, drenched in sweat as the temperature inside the Civic soars, does a marvellous job in rolling back the years. The other three regularly congregate to belt out the riffs in front of his kit, emphasising that this is a close-knit and tight unit once again. A couple of false starts and finishes only adds to the feeling of spontaneity as they roar through ‘Blue Eyed Lady’, ‘Little Lady’ and ‘Most of the Time’, songs we never thought Quo would play live ever again. Long time collaborator Bob Young adds his harmonica to the chugging ‘Roadhouse Blues’ that closes out the main set before they encore with the joyous pairing of ‘Don’t Waste My Time’ and ‘Bye Bye Johnny’.
A nostalgic reminder of just how hard this band rocked in the dim and distant past, this was one of those very special occasions when you simply had to be there. No matter your views on what Status Quo became in later years, this is what they sounded like when it truly mattered.
Set List: Junior’s Wailing; Backwater / Just Take Me; Is There a Better Way; In My Chair; Blue Eyed Lady; Little Lady / Most of the Time; April, Spring, Summer and Wednesdays; Railroad; Oh Baby; Forty-five Hundred Times / Rain; Big Fat Mama; Down Down; Roadhouse Blues
Encore: Don’t Waste My Time; Bye Bye Johnny
And you can see more shots from the show below: