Almost exactly a year ago I attended a Quo gig at the nearby Hydro which was billed as the ‘Last Night Of The Electrics’ tour. Yet here I am a year on looking at a stage lined with white amps powered up and humming, what is going on?
This Christmas tour was originally billed as an Aquostic tour but due to public demand the band decided to give the people what they wanted and break out the Telecasters for another blast through of the classics. Some may have felt cheated by this, although last year’s excellent bill with REO Speedwagon in tow was well worth the entrance fee anyway, but after tonight’s performance I doubt anyone was bemoaning the change.
Tonight’s support aren’t as big an act as Speedwagon yet but given the form they are in just now I wouldn’t bet against Cats In Space hitting the big time soon. The band’s latest album ‘Scarecrow’ recently topped the Get Ready To ROCK! Reviewers ‘best of 2017’ album list and deservedly so. This was the fourth time this year I have seen CIS live this year and I would happily attend another gig tomorrow. Hitting the stage to the familiar strains of the Sweeney theme the band produced another faultless performance.
The set was much the same as the guys had played a week or so earlier when supporting Deep Purple but with time for a couple of extra songs. Opening with ‘Too Many Gods’ the band soon had the growing crowd on their side.
Frontman Paul Manzi once again looked at ease on stage and his vocal delivery was spot on throughout. As Paul pointed out, the band may have only been together for a couple of years but between them the players on stage have about 200 years of musical experience between them and it shows. The sound is spot on and the band have the stage presence of seasoned professionals.
Set highlights included ‘Mad Hatters Tea Party’, ‘Mr Heartache’ and ‘Timebomb’ but the show stealer was the epic ‘Greatest Story Never Told’ with great guitar work from Greg Hart and Dean Howard. ‘Five Minute Celebrity’ rounded off another great set and at the end the guys got a well deserved standing ovation as they took their bows.
The stage was then set for Status Quo and anticipation was high. As the lights dimmed and the intro taped rolled the band took to the stage greeted with a huge cheer. It fell to new man Richie Malone to kick things off with the opening riff to ‘Caroline’. Quo 2017 may be a different beast entirely from the heady days of the frantic four but the current line up seem to have harnessed some of that old energy. The performance tonight was by a band with new found vigour and found Francis Rossi in good voice and a wisecracking good mood.
‘Something ‘Bout You Baby I Like’ and ‘Rain’ followed before Malone stepped forward for vocal duties on ‘Little Lady’. The set list was the usual mix of all the hits, some old, some new, some borrowed and some blue (for you!). ‘Softer Ride’ took us way back with some excellent drumming from Leon Cave.
Francis Rossi was in fine form, joking with the crowd on subjects such as Skechers being the most comfortable shoe for the older gent and the feeling that his face is about to fall off when bouncing along during ‘Hold You Back’. Another aspect of the evening was all the band members stepping forward to take lead vocal duties with ‘Rhino’ Edwards and Andy Bowen taking turns at the mic alongside Rossi and Malone.
‘Don’t Drive My Car’ was played in honour of the late Rick Parfitt, although the version played was the reworked Aquostic one rather than the straight original. ‘In The Army Now’ went down a storm ably abetted by the Glasgow choir belting out ‘stand up and fight’ for all they were worth.
After ‘Roll Over Lay Down’, Rossi was left on stage alone for a quick guitar noodle before cranking out the intro to ‘Down, Down’, he also added a cheeky ‘down, down, prices are down’ in one of the choruses, no doubt the TV ad proceeds helped pay for the Skechers. ‘Rockin’ All Over The World’ rounded off the set as is tradition,again accompanied with much singing and dancing.
The band soon reappeared and kept the tempo high with ‘Don’t Waste My Time’, ‘Burning Bridges’, again with Rossi trying to dislodge his face by bouncing around on stage, and ‘Bye, Bye Johnny’ finally bringing things to a close.
Some may bemoan the fact that the band are continuing to tour after last year’s farewell and the death of Parfitt. However, I would say that this current version of Quo are playing with a new found energy and enthusiasm that was missing on the last few tours. Rossi in particular appears to be a new man, playing beside the younger generation is obviously keeping the old dog on his toes.
Plugged or unplugged, make no mistake Status Quo are still as entertaining as ever and plan to continue touring just as long as Rossi can keep his jowls in check.
Review by Dave Wilson
Photos by Darren Griffiths
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