This wasn’t my first foray to a Status Quo concert. It was however my first time to see the ‘Frantic Four” line up that released the ‘real’ Quo albums (Hello, Dog of Two Head and Piledriver to name a few), that heralded heavy blues rock. No “whatever you want” or any of the softened synthesis of their former selves appeared in Dublin and anybody who has seen Quo before will know what to expect, but for the uninitiated I will try to set the scene… If you want to see a really tight band that will have the audience moving from the get go to pretty much the end of the set, a band that is properly loud and heavy with dollops of self deprecating stage banter Status Quo are definitely worth seeing.
Support was from Sal Vitro, a steady bluesy sometimes funky band with soul laden vocals. They are a really promising band from Ireland. They didn’t try to blast the crowd out of their boots straight away, instead they built up the atmosphere and gradually garnered the audience recognition. What became apparent to me was that they are a group of really good musicians that know when to play which is just as important as how to play. As soon as they settled down into the pocket they really began to let themselves go and the reaction from the crowd signal that there will be a space for these guys on most rock stages. I feel that they could let go a bit more, let themselves go on stage and become a great live band. Hopefully they will not let any studio recordings sterilise them too much.
The Frantic Four silhouetted curtain enveloped the stage and the MC announced the arrival of the mighty Status Quo. They delved into their back catalogue in a successful decision to to regain the power of their legendary gigs (perfectly summarised on the QUO LIVE album of the 70’s). It has been almost 30 years since Francis Rossi, Rick Parfitt and bass player Alan Lancaster performed together before this tour and even longer since drummer John Coughlan provided the backbeat. Rossi and Parfitt who have barely been off the road in 25+ years, they looked strong and attacked every song with an empassioned teamwork that barely faltered all night. Everytime I’ve seen Quo, Francis Rossi has become an even better guitar player and looks joyous as he tears solos out of his trademark green telecaster all night. He also alluded to the stereotypical view of themselves by quipping “What song is next? I’m gettin’ on and can’t see the list, I’ve got to be careful because the titles are similar…unlike the songs“.
Rick Parfitt has always been the rhythm player of the band and sets down a relentless groove that sometimes Coughlan’s tom-heavy and huge sounding percussion has trouble keeping up with. But when they lock in, they are superb. From the opening of ‘Junior’s Wailing’ the stage was set, this was going to be a heavy affair. Classic tracks such a ‘Rain’, ‘Forty-Five Hundred Times’ and their classic version of ‘Roadhouse Blues’ made sure that heads were synchronistcally shaking. Though not as polished as the newer version of the band but the Frantic Four Reunion really did show how raw-sounding a band Quo were, and how much this near sold out audience still have a place in their hearts, and denim on their backs, for the institution of the music. Love ’em or hate ’em Status Quo know how to put on a thoroughly enjoyable show and all with only 3 chords….
Just Take Me
Is There a Better Way
In My Chair
Blue Eyed Lady
Most of the Time
(April) Spring, Summer and Wednesdays
Forty-Five Hundred Times / Gotta Go Home
Big Fat Mama
Bye Bye Johnny
Words: Ross McDermott
Photos: Down The Barrel Photography