Monday, 23 November 2009
Status Quo, Basingstoke, 2009.
Even my Mum has seen Status Quo. And she hasn't been to any gigs.
The Quo. You can laugh. I remember "Caroline" on Top of The Pops in 1973BC or whenever. I loved it or rather the 12-bar blues in it and thus, through the Quo, I got into Blues music. True. Not the Rolling Stones.
The "Hello" album by Quo is a classic. Cheap Fender guitars but a hard sound - 3 years before The Ramones debut. "Quo Live" was/is a corker. One of the few live albums that really captures a gig and its atmosphere. I've spent countless hours, banging my head with tennis racquet or air-guitar to that one. My young uncles, Greg and Ciarin, used to play "Down the Dustpipe" on their guitars at family Christmases in the 70s. The first time I met my father-in-law he was playing with his pub band and they did "Caroline" in their set.
So, yes, I've always had a soft spot for the Quo. But I'd never seen them. In London they always played the shit-hole that is Wembley and I couldn't be arsed. Deep down (deeper on down) though there was a part of me that always fancied seeing them. I've seen everyone else so, why not?
In August of 2009 our family moved to a village outside Basingstoke and I saw the Quo were playing the 1,100 seat Anvil theatre. Hmm. On my birthday too. Maybe...
On the day my old friend Chris came to stay so we thought we'd try and get tickets. We got to the venue and asked the nice ladies at the box office if there were any returns. Keep popping back, they said, and you might get lucky. 20 minutes later we were at the bar and one of the ladies came up and said "You're in luck!" We got 2 tickets at face value, right in the middle, 11 rows back. Wah-hey!
Once inside we looked at all the middle-aged couples and entire families of Quo fans. A roadie was hoovering the stage. It couldn't have been more sedate and MOR. I expected a soft-rock version of "Quo Live", seeing as Parfitt and Rossi were both 60 by now. The amps started to hum loudly. Intro music. The band appeared. The opening chords to "Caroline" blammed out and we were off.
They were great. Proper loud, 70s, rock gig. Rossi's stage patter took the piss out of himself, the band, the audience, but in a friendly Max Miller way. There was no rock star ego. They came over as a pub band with knobs on. They were so tight! And, because we were so close, we could see their fingers running up and down the frets. Licks and riffs I'D HEARD A THOUSAND TIMES! They made it look so easy and FUN.
OK, they played rubbish like "Living on an Island" and "Something Bout You baby I Like" but it was great just to see them bouncing around and do the guitar line-up, heads bobbing, rocking from side-to-side, just as I did 30 years ago at skool with my mates.
What really impressed was the variety of tunes. They played "Pictures of Matchstick Men" and "Ice in the Sun" from psychedelic 1967. They played old songs: "Mean Girl", "Rain", "Junior's Wailin'", "Paper Plane", even "Down the Dustpipe". They even did "Softer Ride" from the "Hello" album, a personal fave - I ain't going to work no more! Almost a political statementduring the 3 Day Week. "Rocking All Over the World" sounded much harder live and "Down Down" was just brilliant - their "Paranoid" or "Stairway" or "Smoke on the Water". A true classic.
You can slag 'em but they are unique and a fun live band. They know who they are and what they can do. An awesome beast. I'm glad I've seen them.