Gig review: STATUS QUO – The Hydro, Glasgow, 20 December 2016

STATUS QUO – The Hydro, Glasgow, 20 December 2016

‘Is it the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning?’ That was the quandary set by Quo a few albums back and it seemed quite relevant tonight. This gig was part of the ‘Last Night Of The Electrics’ run of shows billed as a final hurrah for the full on Quo live extravaganza. However, with news that the tour is to be extended into 2017 with dates in Germany already booked who knows what the future holds. Hands up who remembers the ‘End Of The Road’ tour…

STATUS QUO – The Hydro, Glasgow, 20 December 2016

Tonight though was all about the here and now and if this was to be Quo’s last full on show in Glasgow then there were roughly 10,000 people who were not going to miss the party.

Opening proceedings tonight were the Lounge Kittens. The trio took to the stage in a riot of lycra that left little to the imagination and entertained with their own take on some rock classics. I was aware of the concept but hadn’t witnessed the girls live so the opening gambit of The Who’s ‘Who Are You’ complete with three part harmony was a pleasant surprise. Other classics followed including Toto’s ‘Africa’ and ‘Rollin’ from Limp Bizkit. Finishing off with a medley taking in more classic rock greats the Kittens provided an entertaining start to the evening.

They say that all good things come to those who wait. To say I was excited at the prospect of seeing REO Speedwagon again after thirty years was an understatement, but this was tempered by the thought that they may be a spent force live. I needn’t have worried as Champaign, Illinois’ finest put in a phenomenal set.

REO Speedwagon – The Hydro, Glasgow, 20 December 2016

As Bryan Hitt beat out the familiar drum intro to ‘Don’t Let Him Go’ any doubts were immediately banished and the following hour proved to be a joy. Kevin Cronin was the ever smiling genial host and he has lost none of his vocal range. He may look more like one of the Golden Girls these days but he is the ultimate AOR frontman in my book.

This tour is in celebration of the 35th anniversary of REO’s biggest album ‘Hi Infidelity’ which spawned many a classic hit. One of the hits was up next in the shape of ‘Take It On The Run’ which was followed by the anthemic ‘Keep Pushin’.

REO Speedwagon – The Hydro, Glasgow, 20 December 2016

The set ebbed and flowed with the big ballads interspersed with the full on REO rock experience. It was great to hear ‘Son Of A Poor Man’ and ‘Back On The Road Again’, both featuring excellent guitar work by Dave Amato, but for me it was the 12 string acoustic classic ‘Time For Me To Fly’ that was the set highlight.

REO Speedwagon – The Hydro, Glasgow, 20 December 2016

Cronin dedicated ‘Ridin’ The Storm Out’ to late guitarist Gary Richrath which was a nice touch and that was followed by another big hit, ‘Keep On Loving You’, which had the crowd singing along. ‘Roll With The Changes’ rounded off an all too short set and left me grinning like the Cheshire cat. REO Speedwagon proved tonight that they are still on top form and the only downside was that this show came too late to make my ‘best of 2016’ list, simply stunning!

Tonight however was all about Status Quo and they weren’t about to be upstaged by some American upstarts. There was an elephant in the room though that has to be addressed first and that is the absence of Rick Parfitt. When Rick was taken ill earlier in the year fans had everything crossed hoping that he would recover in time for these dates but it soon became evident that Rick’s condition was such that he would not make the tour and he soon announced his retirement from the band.

STATUS QUO – The Hydro, Glasgow, 20 December 2016

This sent web forums into meltdown with calls for the tour to be scrapped, no Quo without Rick was the cry. The decision was taken to continue with the final fling and the band graciously allowed those who preferred not to attend to get a full refund should they wish to. So tonight we have the Quo class of 2016 to entertain us, so let’s get the party started!

It falls to Parfitt’s replacement, Richie Malone, to crank out the opening chords, no pressure then, and as he battered out the opening to ‘Caroline’ any fears soon evaporated. In fact, tonight’s show proved to be one of the liveliest Quo Christmas shows I have witnessed in years, having the younger guys on stage looks to have invigorated the rest of the band.

STATUS QUO – The Hydro, Glasgow, 20 December 2016

Francis Rossi in particular looked like he was having a ball, smiling all the while and hamming it up at every occasion. Rhino Edwards and Andy Bown both covered the stage extensively throughout the set and again played up to the crowd wherever possible.

The set was as expected, hit after hit was played with much crowd participation. It’s hard to choose highlights in such a packed set but the likes of ‘Softer Ride’ and ‘Hold You Back’ managed to turn the Hydro into the glory days of the Glasgow Apollo. Another old Apollo favourite to get an airing was ‘Gerdundula’ which had the whole band stage front including drummer Leon Cave. Again the great rapport between the current band was clearly evident.

STATUS QUO – The Hydro, Glasgow, 20 December 2016

‘In The Army Now’ provided another opportunity for the crowd to fill their lungs and sing along, the sound of 10,000 voices shouting ‘stand up and fight’ is quite compelling! From there it was big hitters all the way, ‘Roll Over Lay Down’, ‘Down Down’ and ‘Whatever You Want’ went by in a hail of big riffs, this is Quo at their best and the reason why the faithful turn up year after year.

‘Rockin’ All Over The World’ finished off the main set with a flourish but the guys weren’t finished yet. They returned for a crowd pleasing run through of ‘Burning Bridges’ before finishing off with the one, two of  ’Rock n Roll Music’ and ‘Bye Bye Johnny’.

STATUS QUO – The Hydro, Glasgow, 20 December 2016

The cheers at the end of the set said it all, tonight was all about celebrating the music of Status Quo and while it would have been nice to have Rick in place stage right it was not to be. I am sure there wouldn’t have been many of the fans present that were disappointed by the performance, better to have Quo go out with a bang rather than grind to a halt.

For me the abiding memory will be of Quo in full flight doing what they do best, rocking hard with some of the best tunes in the business. A fitting finale.

Review by Dave Wilson
Photos by Iain Scott

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