Mention Status Quo to any non-rock fan and you will get all the usual comments about the band being three chord wonders or how they have only ever written one song which they have milked for the last forty odd years. Their dedicated fan base however are loyal to the point of fanatical and they know what they want from a Quo gig and the guys are more than happy to deliver.
In 2014 though the band came up with an idea to reinvent themselves by taking some of their back catalogue, stripping it back and going acoustic. They also brought in a few other musicians to augment the melodies with strings and accordion and the ‘Aquostic’ album was born.
The album was a huge success and led to a one-off show at the Roundhouse in London which again was well received. Never ones to pass up the chance of a tour the band then decided to take the show on the road for a short UK jaunt with Glasgow being the first date. With the Concert Hall completely sold out (and located just around the corner from the former site of the Glasgow Apollo, Quo’s spiritual home) the scene was set for an unorthodox rocking night.
Opening proceedings on this tour are Terry and Gerry, not to be confused with Ben and Jerry who are a much tastier prospect. The four piece skiffle group were championed in the 80’s by the late John Peel, just goes to show that even his musical tastes were dubious.
The band played mediocre skiffle music apparently containing a social message but with a delivery which would have been better placed on CBeebies rather than on this bill. Gerry Colvin on guitar and vocals was one of the most annoying frontmen I have had the misfortune of seeing with inane between song banter that appeared to be aimed at 5 year olds. I am afraid to say I only lasted 4 songs before heading to the bar, if you are in touch with your inner child then this might be the act for you.
Taking our seats once again, the lights dimmed and the stage filled with musicians whilst the crowd chanted for Quo. Although this was a toned down show there was no lack of enthusiasm from the sold out throng. With the Status Quo band members in position the set kicked off with ‘And It’s Better Now’ which was quickly followed by a swinging ‘Break The Rules’.
Francis Rossi was in good voice and good spirits joking that he had fans placed below his chair to blast air at his nether regions as he had overheated at the Roundhouse gig after sitting for so long. The set list for the evening followed that of the Roundhouse show, which was no really great surprise, and held some gems which really worked well in this setting.
It was the Quo favourites though which finally got the crowd to their feet. ‘Caroline’,’ What You’re Proposing’ and ‘Down Down’ got the fans dancing and the acoustic air guitars taking a pounding.
Particular highlights for me were ‘Mystery Song’ which had a great string led intro, ‘Pictures Of Matchstick Men’ and ‘Rollin’ Home’ which was a real Cajun stomper. One track which took me back was ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’, one of my early single purchases, a song written to be played in this format. With 16 musicians on stage getting the sound balance correct must have been a nightmare but hats off to the sound engineer as the balance was just right with all elements clearly heard.
The main set was rounded off with the crowd pleasing double of ‘Whatever You Want’ and ‘Rockin’ All Over The World’ which even had the security staff dancing in the aisles. The guys returned for a couple of quick encores which rounded off an excellent night.
I know that there are some long time Quo fans who have found this latest incarnation of the band a step too far, in fact one couple in front of me, both sporting Quo t-shirts, left after two numbers never to be seen again. For me however I think that the Aqoustic project has injected new life into both the band and the songs.
It is to their credit that Rossi and Parfitt decided to leave their comfort zone and take on a new challenge at this stage of their career and with 2000 fans screaming their appreciation at the end of the set it would appear that most, if not all, are happy with the new as well. It also gives them good ammo the next time someone writes the band off as a one trick pony.
Review by David Wilson
Photos by Iain Scott
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 30 August 2020.
UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 8 September 2020.
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