A pleasant drive through the Wiltshire and Gloucestershire countryside led to the rather out of the way "Old Rangoon" in Fairford. The residents of this small place must be used to loud noise living next to an old RAF base, but the show advertised largely on the end of the pub's drive promised to shake their foundations yet more.
As we arrived early, it was a struggle to order a drink in the small front bar over the cacophony of noise coming from the function room - John Coghlan and State of Quo were rehearsing and sounded in top form. Nothing could disguise that Coghlan style and the old numbers came belting out - if the rehearsal was anything to go by, we were in for a treat. Early on the pub was very quiet but no need to worry as the place filled completely by the time the band took the stage properly. The gig being in aid of a local swimming pool appeal had brought out the locals en masse and a sell-out was assured. Entering the rear function room for the first time was a shock, more of a restaurant with a dance floor than a rock venue - would this crowd be up for it? Again, I needn't have worried.....
The band took up position at about 9.50, I would say took the stage but there wasn't really one !! They'd just set up their impressive Marshall stacks and drum kit in the corner of the room, the mike stands marking the boundary of their territory. The guys wandered on looking very relaxed and John Coghlan arrived to great applause. What else could they start the night off with but "Caroline" with "Rick" standing legs apart in front of JC's kit. Off they went ploughing through the old Quo standards one after another, the audience getting more and more involved as the evening progressed. John was in fine form and I got a great view from side of stage, I was simply mesmorised by his accuracy and power. The performance of the whole band got better and better as they began to flow, the smiles on the faces of everyone "on stage" showing their obvious delight and maybe a little wonder at playing alongside JC. Highlight of the first part of their set for me was "Big Fat Mama", so long absent from Quo's set but brought back to life with this performance and JC's interpretation was pure Glasgow Apollo 1976 all over again.
A few moments of respite for the band before they stormed back with the one everyone was waiting for in "Rockin' All Over The World". This wasn't really a Quo crowd but they enjoyed it nonetheless and the familiar standards were clearly better received. To finish off, nothing can replace "Bye Bye Johnny" and this was to be one to remember - JC decided he'd have some fun in his drum solo. Off he goes in that familiar hunched pose over the kit, making sure no part of the whole construction is safe from his attention - from the stands to the drum rims, from the stacks to beer glasses, he maintained a rhythm while wandering around the stage clouting everything in sight. Back to the kit, he continued and cracked on for what must have been a good five minutes, sheer genius, who said there's no place for a drum solo in Quo's set?
It was truly memorable for me to see John Coghlan in action having never seen him perform live with Quo. His hand speed, power and timing have not faltered at all and the look of pure pleasure at entertaining his audience was there for all to see. His band were superb too, giving it their all and enjoying every minute. The responsive crowd helped even if they didn't fully appreciate some of the less familiar numbers and the gig was a great success.
I had the pleasure of speaking to John for a while after the show and he's such a nice genuine bloke it's hard to believe it's been so long since he played with Quo. Listening to the way he plays old Quo made it clear to me that there is simply no-one better in that role, just those occassional tinkles and extra beats he pops in here and there, it really did feel like Glasgow 1976 and was a privilege to see. Tony and his band were as down to earth and excited by it all as you can imagine and their love for what they're doing is both clear and enviable.
All I can say in conclusion is that if any of you get the chance to see this band in action, you must take the opportunity for it is one that no true Quo fan can afford to miss and you might just find yourself travelling back in time to a Quo era forgotten - when a slightly mysterious-looking shortish chap knocked out that Quo rhythm straight down the line. He may be going a bit thin on top, but that same John Coghlan is alive and well and you'll be hard pressed to tell much difference.
The first programme in a new series, entitled "The Pier", on Meridian ITV was billed as "a profile of Status Quo drummer Jeff Rich", but it was much more than that and fascinating to watch. All the members of the band were involved and there was some great behind-the-scenes footage including rehearsals. There was also live footage from Brighton last tour and that stage set just looked amazing on screen!! Plenty of interview time with Jeff and some footage of one of his drum masterclasses. Some funny moments from Francis and Rick, plus nice chats with Andrew and Rhino. Also involved were some of the less well-known faces behind the band, like Toot (drum tech), Pete Hillier (tour manager), and the sound and lighting guys. A very interesting 20 minutes of Quo.Revisit the April 1998 event list