Status Quo - Wolverhampton, Civic Hall - 13th March 2013 Print E-mail
Written by Ian Bell   
Thursday, 28 March 2013 03:00

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All bands have their classic line-ups with members leaving and sometimes even returning, some line-ups and individuals are remembered more fondly by the fans and not simply for levels of sales and perceived success; onstage tonight for many is the real Status Quo, not only the line-up providing the most successful era, but also the most loved and sacred.

 

I am of course making reference to the 'Frantic Four' that is and will always be Rick Parfitt, Francis Rossi, John Coghlan, and Alan Lancaster, the line-up that existed between from 1970-1981 although did became five technically with the addition of Andy Brown on keyboards in '76. Coghlan left in '81 and for many so did part of the magic.

 

There were the big end of the road shows in '85 that turned out to be not the end of the road but more of turning right on to a new safer road which kept the hits flowing but lost a lot of older fans who liked things a little less pop and Stars on 45, the Quo for this new direction was not only minus Coghlan but surprisingly founder member Lancaster was no longer involved either. There began the story of the two Quos, the classic pre '85 and the 'In The Army Now/Anniversary Waltz' pop post '85 Quo fronted by Parfitt and Rossi with Andy Brown still in support along with two others on bass and drums.

 

Last Christmas post '85 Quo played my local arena in Cardiff and I know that as I happened to come across their name in the local gig listings and that's where my interest ended; however, upon the announcement of the Frantic Four reforming and touring, with the nearest venue a two hour car journey away in Wolverhampton, it was full panic mode to get my hands on a ticket, so there exemplifies my Quo allegiance. Being too young to have seen pre '85 back in the glory days my only previous live experience of Quo had been the post '85 Quo in the early nineties in Cardiff Ice Rink (and I remember being a little uninspired to be honest) and John Coughlan's Diesel playing the small Cumberland pub in Liverpool in the mid eighties with an impressive line-up that included Micky Moody.

 

On entering the fabulous Civic Hall you can feel the anticipation in the air, conversations surrounding us demonstrating the pull of this event and it is just that - an event, as fans have obviously travelled from around the globe based on the languages being spoken in ear shot. The lights dim and the infamous spoken intro from Quo Live fills the venue "the number one rock 'n' roll band in the land...the magnificent Status Quo" are on stage and, as with the live album from '77, the band are straight into a cover of Steamhammer's 'Junior Wailing', Lancaster taking control of lead vocals.

 

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Considering the band members have been touring and playing in bands since the early '60s they are looking in good shape and age not proving to be a barrier to their stage craft and presence, even Lancaster, despite the rumours regarding his health which you feel may have an element of truth as he struggles with his movement, although his singing and playing is top notch as he takes lead vocals as he once did on the next three numbers as well, 'Backwater', 'Just Take Me' and 'Is There A Better Way'.

 

Parfitt, in leather jacket which, despite the heat, he adorns for the entire show, could easily be mistaken or scripted as father of the Gallagher brothers of Oasis fame, Rossi having given up on the pony tail and hair - or it may have given up on him a long time since - bounces around like a man far younger, whilst Coghlan is as steady as you like, and it's hard not to get carried away with the occasion of seeing the four of them back together on stage.

 

Rossi takes over lead vocals for 'In My Chair' and 'Blue Eyed Lady' before Parfitt takes his turn on 'Little Lady' as the band then fly through 'Most Of The Time', 'Spring, Summer and Wednesdays', 'Railroad', and 'Oh Baby'. It is impossible not to be impressed by these four even now as a live entity and one can only wonder what they were like back in the day when they were at their peak. They are only a chromosome or two different from classic Bon Scott-era AC/DC and Rossi and Parfitt much under-esteemed guitar men in their own right, trading licks and riffs with ease.

 

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'Forty-Five Hundred Times' continues to have the cocoon effect as the more, ahem, mature crowd shall we say appears to go back in time and years with a new found energy to bounce around and soak up what is before them on stage, and this continues for 'Rain', and 'Big Fat Mama' before finding the fountain of eternal youth for tonight's audience in 'Down Down', before finishing the main set with a cover of The Doors' 'Roadhouse Blues'.

 

The encores of 'Don't Waste My Time' and Chuck Berry's 'Bye Bye Johnny' bring matters to a close and, as the "Bye Bye" chorus rings around, the event that is tonight may not be repeated again as this line up won't tour again according to some elements of the media, but if that is the case I have a fine memory of Quo that I don't ever want to risk diminishing by going to see any other line-up.

 

The set list may have missed one or two obvious songs that you would think would be natural choices...but it worked, four blokes (with help from unofficial member Bob Young on harmonica) celebrating 50 years with real back to basic stripped down blues based bar room rock 'n' roll, and it doesn’t get much better.

 

As the band take their bows the body language and back slapping aimed in the direction of their bass player does makes you wonder though if this was less of a 50 year celebration and a whole lot more about their mate Alan Lancaster.

 

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To visit the Status Quo store on Amazon - CLICK HERE