Status Quo @ SECC, Glasgow, 16 December 2007
Where do Status Quo find their support bands? In recent years a range of excellent rock bands have opened for them including Hurricane Party, Casbah Club, Mike Peters and the Tokyo Dragons. On other occasions, however, some barrel-scrapingly awful acts have accompanied them, most notably the German duo who in 2003 performed an acoustic set of 50s rock and roll songs in a sing-along-with-Cliff style.
Similarly inappropriate were tonight's support, Canadians Bernadette and the North who sound something like Sheryl Crow and Alanis Morissette with more guitar. This is unfortunate as both of these women have been close to the top of my musicians-I'd-like-to-have-shot list for almost a decade, falling only slightly behind Phil Collins, Elton John and Rod Stewart. To be fair, Bernadette (pictured at bottom) and company were good at what they did, but it's just not the kind of music that Quo fans come to hear. To paraphrase their compatriot Bryan Adams, the kids wanna rock!Ed - should I tell him she's Francis Rossi's daughter? Hmm.
Having such a mismatched support band normally means only one thing –the headliners don't expect to go down well and have to save some face by looking better than the Norwegian folk trio or Britney Foxx tribute band who are supporting them.
What could this mean? Would Quo be performing 1988's "Ain't Complaining" (possibly the worst album ever recorded) in full? Has bass player Rhino Edwards composed a jazz fusion rock opera? Have Rossi, Parfitt and co decided to become a Britney Foxx tribute band?
Quite frankly, none of the above. Coming on with Caroline, the mighty Quo proceeded to deliver a 2 hour set filled with crowd pleasers.
Gone are most of the lightweight poppy songs from the 80s and 90s, replaced instead by 70s headbanging classics. The few 80s songs remaining have had the synthesiser turned down in favour of loud guitar.
Quo have been undergoing something of a renaissance since the millennium with 2002's excellent "Heavy Traffic" and to a lesser extent, the current "In Search of the Fourth Chord" album, representing back to basics heavy rock. This has been emphasised too by drummer Matt Letley who is far more in the classic Quo mode than his predecessor Jeff Rich.
This return to form was reflected in the set list with three tracks being taken from "Heavy Traffic" and a further two from the current offering, including the highly metallic "Is this the Beginning of the End".
It is notable that virtually the whole set is composted of up tempo rockers with the only exceptions being "Gerdundula" and "In the Army Now". Had this been a standing concert, dozens of people would have been stretchered off with exhaustion and/or whiplash.
Early in the set Rick Parfitt had real trouble reaching the high notes and it looked likely that his voice might give out completely. This was not be, and just as well too as he sang lead vocals on roughly half of the tracks. As ever, partner in crime Francis Rossi was in top form both with his patter, guitar playing and also with a surprising amount of pop-punk style bouncing.
This was a gig for Quo fans and rockers and general, not for fickle pop fans who like a couple of Quo songs from the radio.
All in all, this was a near perfect gig and could only have been bettered if it had been a little louder and if Rhino Edwards would buy a proper bass and get rid of his ridiculous headless effort.
:twisted :twisted :twisted 1/2 / 3.5 out of 5
Caroline; Somethin' 'bout You Baby I Like; Don't waste my time; 4500 Times/Rain; Paper Plane; Beginning Of The End; Gravy Train; All Stand Up; The Oriental; Creeping Up On You; Medley (What You're Proposing, Little Lady, Red Sky, Dear John, Down the Dustpipe); Big Fat Mama; Gerdundula; Drum Solo; Roll Over Lay Down; Down Down; Whatever you Want; Burning Bridges. Encore: In the Army Now, Rockin' all over the World, Bye Bye Johnny.