Review: STATUS QUO - Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre,
11th March 2010
Status Quo is something of a rock and roll institution. And the band’s current Australian tour is doing little, if anything, to change that. Playing to a near sell-out crowd at Brisbane’s Convention Centre, the band, led by the newly knighted Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt, once again confirmed their reputation as the masters of the 12 bar boogie.
Great Aussie band, The Screaming Jets, was a perfect choice for support for this gig. As always, lead singer Dave Gleeson entertained, not only with his great voice, but his animated display of bounding around on stage and a variety of facial expressions worthy of some amazing photo opportunities. Their set included the catchy ‘Helping Hand’, the title track of their most recent album, ‘Do Ya’, and, of course, no Screaming Jets gig would be complete without the eternal favourite, ‘Better’, which finished off the set nicely, leaving the crowd wound up and ready for the main act.
And ready they were.
Out of the darkness, the band appeared on stage. That trademark Quo stance, legs akimbo, heads bowed and bobbing in unison to that oh so familiar guitar riff and the set opened with one of their biggest hits, Caroline. Classic Quo from start to finish. And you knew, from the word ‘go’ that, tonight, you were in for a ‘real’ rock and roll gig!
The next song, ‘Something ‘Bout You Baby (I Like)’ - which was also a hit for Tom Jones in the early ‘70s – kept the mood going, then the band moved seamlessly into much heavier territory with their 1976 hit, ‘Rain’.
As any fan will proudly tell you, a Quo concert is all about the music. It doesn’t rely on extravagant stage sets and theatrical displays. There are no dancing girls or outrageous props. At a Status Quo gig, the music is everything. Their trademark brand of rock and roll is more than enough to create an atmosphere that would satisfy any true fan of the genre and to win over those who are on the edge. The stage was stark. It was just the band, their instruments and a row of amps loud enough to easily blow out your eardrums. There was little banter but, whenever Rossi did converse with the audience in his endearing South London accent, his cheeky grin and equally mischievous sense of humour met with appreciative cheers from the crowd. For the most part, though, the set was a continuous stream of guitar-driven rock, played loud and ‘live’.
Obviously trying to fit in as many songs as they possibly could in their allotted 90 minute set, the band pulled together a medley of tunes including ‘What You’re Proposing’, ‘Down The Dustpipe’ (an oldie but still clearly a crowd favourite), ‘Little Lady’, ‘Red Sky’ and ‘Dear John’.
Without missing a beat, Parfitt slid into the opening bars of that classic track from the band’s 1972 Piledriver album, ‘Big Fat Mama’. In this writer’s opinion, still one of their best ‘live’ songs after almost forty years.
Halfway through the set, we were taken back in time to the psychedelic 60’s, complete with kaleidoscopic lighting, with the band’s very first hit (released under the band name ‘The Status Quo’) ‘Pictures of Matchstick Men’ and ‘Ice In The Sun’ from the same period. This little blast from the distant past met with thunderous applause as it is something of a rarity for many fans to hear these tunes.
Jumping forward several decades later, the music takes on a decidedly Eastern flavour with ‘The Oriental’ (circa 2002), enhanced by a pulsating light show of its own.
But, of course, even the hardest, loudest rock and roll show has its quieter moments and this one was no exception. The tempo slowed down for Rick’s much softer ‘Living on an Island’, said to have been written about Parfitt’s time in supposed tax exile on Jersey in the Channel Islands.
This was followed by ‘In The Army Now’, featuring what could only be described as an amazing drum solo by Matt Letley. Now, I have to admit that, while I love the sound of the drums, at times these obligatory solos can be a little too self-indulgent and seem to drag on endlessly. But, on this occasion, I found myself immersed in every beat and cheered at the end because I actually enjoyed it and not just because it was finally over.
Then the rest of the band returned to the stage, with the unmistakable opening riff to ‘Roll Over Lay Down’ which never fails to get the crowd on their feet and there was little doubt that the next three songs would keep them there. ‘Down, Down’ was a huge hit for the band and remains, to this day, arguably the quintessential Quo song in the hearts and minds of many (at least, for those of us who have been around long enough to remember.) And the sight of all those punters bopping along, head down, hair hanging over their eyes, air guitar firmly in hand, would seem to verify that.
The lights dimmed once more and the excitement in the room was building with the dramatic intro to ‘Whatever You Want’. The closer was, of course, ‘Rockin’ All Over The World’. Written and originally recorded by John Fogerty, Status Quo have made this song their own and turned it into a Quo anthem. Anyone who wasn’t already up out of their seat by now, just doesn’t appreciate good rock and roll.
For the encore, the band returned with ‘Junior’s Wailing’, a cover of an old Steamhammer song (which appeared on one of Quo’s earlier albums, ‘Ma Kelly’s Greasy Spoon’), winding up with a medley of Chuck Berry’s ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Music’ and ‘Bye Bye Johnny’.
Status Quo has been around for over four decades now. I, myself, have been going to see them for more than three, and I can honestly say that they have lost none of the energy and drive that they displayed on that very first night that I saw them perform at Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion in the mid 70’s. They do what they do without added props and embellishments. It’s just pure, unadulterated rock. And, for my money, nobody does it better. So, if you think you’ve been to a truly great rock and roll show lately and you haven’t seen Status Quo perform ‘live’…. maybe you should think again.
Photos: SCREAMING JETS support STATUS QUO at Hordern Pavillion 10.3.10