Billed as “Last Night Of The Electrics” you wonder if this will be the last time to catch the Quo live in all their denim clad glory although the annual Christmas tour may be their swansong in that format. Sadly, no Rick Parfitt due to ill health, though in fairness it didn’t seem to detract from the proceedings tonight with maybe 7000 diehard fans in one part of the stadium.
First up, opening tonight were Departed, a four piece from the south of England. They woke up the older generation of Quo fans, who had taken the trouble to get in early and support new music.
Singer Mark Pascall, and guitarist Ben Bennett, are no strangers to the music scene, with Empire Of Fools and The Treatment their previous bands, and you can see how confident they are onstage . Drummer Connor is the jack in the box, dressed like a reject from a bad 70s movie, but the guy knows how to beat the hell out of his skins and is infectious in his enjoyment of the gig.
With a lead guitar sound from Ben Bennett reminiscent of Billy Duffy of The Cult they blasted through a very generous 11 song set with the pick of the best being ‘Steal Your Crown’ and possibly the best cover of Queens’ ‘Tie Your Mother Down’ I have seen and heard.
The band made a host of new friends in Wales and their debut EP is also worth checking out.
The Jokers, like Departed, before them, are a less familiar band for me but opener ‘Dr Rock Head’, demonstrated they know how to write a catchy song. Guitarist Paul Hurst fires off riff after dirty sounding riff whilst vocalist Wayne Parry oozes coolness with a certain sultry swagger.
After hearing their album it became clearer that AC/DC are a big influence on their sound and Wayne has all that unique sound and charm of an early Bon Scott, although The Jokers are more eclectic musically drifting through numerous styles. However, all the songs seemed to possess a kick-ass chorus that begged to be sung along to and their album ‘Hurricane’ has been on repeat in the car all week. I don’t see anything taking its place in the near future.
The intro music of ‘The Drone’ heralded Status Quo on stage, the stadium plunged in darkness, and practically everyone screaming and cheering, whilst a burst of white spotight lit up Rick Parfitt’s stand-in Richie Malone who belted out the opening bars of ‘Caroline’. Right on queue, the place went nuts.
Francis Rossi, prowled the stage making eye contact with as many people as possible before having to get to his mic stand to sing, decked out in trademark white shirt and black waistcoat.
No matter what anyone thinks of The Quo, they know how to entertain and they have a repertoire of songs that some can only dream of and next up ‘The Wanderer’, is probably one of their biggest hits from the 80s .
We were treated to a pick from every decade of their fantastic career, from ‘Paper Plane’, ‘Gerdundul’a to more modern songs in ‘The Begining Of The End’ and ‘The Oriental’. It was refreshing to see them play some of their modern stuff which stacks up live well alongside the classics such as ‘What You’re Proposing’, ‘Wild Side Of Life’, ‘Hold You Back’, and ‘In The Army Now’.
Francis Rossi, alongside bass player John Rhino Edwards and long time member Andy Bown do a sterling job in filling in for Ricks’ missing vocals tonight, and to be brutally honest sometimes I couldn’t tell the difference when Andy Bown sang ‘Whatever You Want’. However we missed Rick visually onstage, even though Richie Malone is quite the deadringer for a younger Parfitt and also getting his stage moves down to a tee.
A party atmosphere spread throughout the stadium from the front of the standing area where the die-hards are right to the back of the stand where the prawn sandwich brigade in their private boxes sang and danced along.
The show climaxed with a mass singalong for the chorus of ‘Rockin All Over The World’ and an encore of ‘Burning Bridges’ and ‘Rock N Roll Music’ and ‘Bye Bye Johnny’.
If the Quo are doing their last electric tour later this year, then grab the opportunity to witness one of this country’s finest rock ‘n’ roll bands. Hopefully Rick will be back in the fold by then.
Any band lasting over fifty years, with so many great songs and with a dedicated following like Quo, should be cherished and lauded in equal measure and at every opportunity.
Review and photos by Darren Griffiths
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