Monday, 22 September 2014

28/3/2014 Status Quo @ Hammersmith Odeon

I've liked going to Hammersmith Odeon less and less over the years. Seeing AC/DC there when it reopened a few years ago after they took all the seats out downstairs was a highlight, but it's been downhill since then. This is my first visit since it's latest refurb and it's actually a lot nicer now. Before I even leave home I have resolved not to use the bar in the venue though - well over £4 for a pint of piss - they can keep that. Fortunately there are one or two half decent pubs between the tube station and the venue...
The scene is set...
Tonight's support act is a terrific choice - Wilko Johnson! Here I am seeing him for the last time. Again. He and his band knock out a terrific set - despite being terminally ill Wilko is lively and looks to be enjoying himself! He can feel the love from the crowd and it seems to do him the world of good - the best medicine he could get. Like the Telecaster wielding headliners he is fired up and gives his own Telecaster a good seeing to in his own unique style.
 The audience lap it up and seem genuinely pleased and moved by his performance - while Wilko seems thrilled to suddenly find himself playing to such a large crowd, and touched by their reaction to him. The usual (early era) Dr Feelgood R&B classics are cranked out with surprising energy and the set is rounded off with a fine version of 'She Does It Right'. I could go home happy after that without even seeing the headliners!

Even though I love the classic 1970's era Quo (when they still knew how to rock) I have never seen the band live. I really lost interest when they seemed to turn into a pop group and started churning out soppy mush like 'Margarita Time', 'Living On An Island', and 'In The Army Now'. I had no interest in seeing the current lineup of the band with it's more recent 'hired hands' - they might be excellent musicians but the later version of the band seemed like a lightweight parody of the original to me. If it wasn't the original lineup then I wasn't interested. Then came the excellent Alan Parker documentary Hello Quo - which ended with hatchets being buried and the four original members meeting up for the first time in years. They met at a rehearsal studio and actually played together at the end of the film. Which left one big question hanging in the air - 'What if....'

So a year or so later they seem to have decided it was a good idea and a few dates featuring the original lineup were announced. Not surprisingly there was massive demand, and the tickets sold out before I had a chance to get one. So that was that. Or so I thought...

A year later and the 'Frantic Four' (were they ever really referred to as that back in the day?) are out on another short tour - for what looks like it really is the last time. This time I manage to get a ticket, and I am pleased that the London shows are at the comparatively 'intimate' Hammersmith Odeon instead of the huge and soul-less Wembley Arena like last year. I'm really pleased about this as I'm sure the band must have played here many times in their earlier days with the old lineup. The icing on the cake it that the band will be performing the whole of their classic 'Status Quo Live' double album at these few shows - in my opinion it's one of the best live albums ever.

So, I finally get to see the classic original Status Quo lineup playing all the songs from their live album - and one or two others. It's great to see Alan Lancaster take lead vocals on set opener 'Junior's Wailing' as well as a few other songs later on.
Francis Rossi was quoted as saying after last year's 'Frantic Four' shows that has was a little disappointed as the band were a bit under-rehearsed. Although the band play well tonight, I can see what he meant as it's certainly not the tightest set I've seen from a major band - I'm sure they were much better in the 1970's, although I have only the live album to go on. John Coghlan seems a bit like he has trouble keeping up at times and seems a little behind the beat, but I still really enjoy the show and am very glad I managed to get a ticket.
It's quite a thrill for me to finally see Status Quo play - particularly this original version of the band. To be fair, they could never be as good as they must have been over 30 years ago, and two members of the band have done very little since then. Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt are very much the ones driving everything along and play better and tighter than the other half of the band - but that's only to be expected as they have hardly stopped over the past 30 years and must have played many of those songs countless times since this earlier very of the band fell apart and still play them regularly as part of the current band's set.
This might not be the sharpest performance I've seen by a band this year but I thoroughly enjoy the show and the atmosphere in the venue is terrific!
Classic after classic is rolled out, but the band stick strictly to songs that this version of the band would have played back in the day - everything is from before the 'Rocking All Over The World' abum. I have absolutely no complaints about that though - no 'In The Army Now', 'Living On An Island', or 'Margarita Time'! The setlist went something like:Junior's Wailing, Backwater / Just take me, Is there a better Way, In My Chair, Blue Eyed Lady, Little Lady / Most of the Time, Rain, April Spring, Summer and Wednesday, Railroad*, Oh Baby,  4500 Times inkl. Gotta Go Home, Big Fat Mama, Down Down, Roadhouse Blues, Caroline, Bye Bye Johnny. Things went a little wrong for the final song and seemed a little hesitant as Alan Lancaster seemed to forget the words to 'Bye Bye Johnny'.
Although it has to be said the band do seem a little under-rehearsed for such major and historic shows, I still think was a great value for money ticket and I'm really glad I didn't miss this last chance to see the 'classic' version of the band. I may never bother seeing Status Quo again as I'm not fussed about the modern lineup of the band - and even if I do see the band again one day they will never have a setlist as good as the one they played at this show!

No comments:

Post a Comment