This is the second night of a two night stint in Glasgow by the Frantic Four and the denim clad Quo Army are once again out in force. After the one-off reunion tour in 2013 proved to be such a hit with both band and fans alike another ‘final’ tour was booked to do it all again one more time. I managed to miss the tour last year and was determined not to miss the party this time around.
James Toseland and his band had opened proceedings on the first night but tonight the opening honours went to Wilko Johnson. Wilko is literally a man living on borrowed time having been diagnosed last year with terminal cancer and given only months to live. Some people may have given up at this news but Wilko has stuck two fingers up to his illness and decided to rock until he drops. With this in mind the fact that he arrived on stage to a huge welcome from the Glasgow crowd came as no surprise.
Looking like a man on a mission, Wilko and his excellent band cranked out some passionate power blues which went down a storm with the crowd. Mixing his solo material with some Dr Feelgood classics the band could do no wrong. Even when Wilko had some technical hitches with his guitar lead, which took a bit of time to sort out, there were still resounding cheers when he finally got back in the groove. It also left Norm Watt-Roy on bass to show off his amazing playing skills as he improvised until the lead problems were sorted out.
Ultimately it was the classics that raised the biggest cheers, ‘Roxette’, ‘Back In The Night’ and the rocking ‘She Does It Right’ all went down a storm. Wilko pulled his trademark animated moves throughout the set and played for all he was worth. This may well prove to be the last performance by Wilko Johnson in Scotland and at the end of the set the cheers of the 2000+ crowd were heartfelt and full of genuine admiration for one of rock’s true fighters.
As the stage was being changed, so the battle cry of ‘Quo, oh,oh,oh,oh’ rose in volume. I suspect that most of the crowd in tonight had possibly been there the previous evening and, no doubt, at the last tour, but that mattered not a bit. This was another evening in the company of the original Frantic Four and after thirty years no one wanted to miss a minute.
As the lights went down and the pulsing beat began the crowd burst into life. Grown men were once again teenagers at the long lost Glasgow Apollo and were ready to bounce their way through the set. Rossi, Parfitt, Lancaster and Coghlan were back on stage and started the rocking with ‘Junior’s Wailing’ with Alan Lancaster on lead vocals. Lancaster may not look as sprightly as he once did, which is understandable given his past health issues, but his voice is still spot on.
‘Backwater’ and ‘Just Take Me’ then continued the fun. What struck me on seeing this incarnation of Quo for the first time is how much heavier they are than the current band. I had seen the DVD of last year’s show but was still surprised at the intensity of the performance. Parfitt said in interviews on the last tour that the concentration required to keep up the pace through a frantic four show was immense and on this showing I could well believe it.
As the set continued so the memories kept flowing. The set was almost the same as last year’s outing and mostly followed the set list from the seminal Quo ‘Live’ album which no doubt most of the crowd in tonight would claim to have been present at the recording of, in the Apollo back in ’76!
Francis Rossi appeared to be in his element but kept the between song banter to a minimum, letting the music do the talking. Another thing easy to overlook is how good a guitarist Rossi is, his soloing throughout the night was fantastic and it looked as though he relished the challenge of the older material.
Tracks of the night for me were ‘(April) Spring , Summer and Wednesdays’ and ‘Oh Baby’ in which Coghlan played up a storm driving the track on with heavy bass drum. ‘Forty Five Hundred Times’ was up next which then led into ‘Rain’ and ‘Big Fat Mama’ with the crowd singing along with every word.
During ‘Down, Down’ I spotted Rossi giving John Coghlan the international hand signal for ‘gee it up a bit’ suggesting that things may not have been totally as planned but it mattered not and by the end of ‘Roadhouse Blues’, which finished off the main set, I reckon they could have played a One Direction number and got away with it.
Of course there was still more to come with the welcome appearance of ‘Caroline’, which was the only change in the set list from the 2013 jaunt, and ‘Bye Bye Johnny’ which again featured the combined vocals of band and crowd.
I have seen Quo many times but was too young (honest!) to have witnessed the Frantic Four in their heyday. Tonight though I finally got to see why they were, and still are, one of the best loved rock bands. This may well be the last time the four grace the same stage but I for one am glad they did.
As the intro to the show stated, tonight they were indeed the ‘Mighty Status Quo’!
Review by David Wilson
Photos by Steve Goudie
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