It had been sixteen years since the historic East Anglian city of Norwich had endured a rock concert at its Carrow Road football ground and (although some locals wanted it to stay that way) Quo and their entourage put an end to that unremarkable piece of history on August 2nd, with a gig invariably dubbed "Rick’s comeback". Hotels and pubs city- wide were paying host to loyal Quo fans who’d travelled from far and wide to this somewhat remote venue in order to toast Rick’s return - and they were to have a great deal to raise their glasses about by the end of the day.
The usual mayhem prevailed in actually getting into the gig - fans had been queuing early and the "Doors Open 4pm" ticket claim soon became 5pm after various police delays - all too typical of venues not used to holding rock events, not even that essential the toilet was to be found! The 12-14,000 strong crowd did eventually squeeze themselves inside and it was no problem getting a front block spot, even if that did mean waiting a while for the Quo. In the interim, two acts to ease the wait in the form of 'Gidea Park' and 'Shakin’ Stevens'.
While the name 'Gidea Park' may not immediately conjure up an image of anything at all, their music was instantly recognizable. The band had a few minor hits in the 80s with their medleys of Beach Boys songs and these formed the mainstay of their act. They specialise in the Beach Boys and The Four Seasons, so have a wealth of classic and well- known songs from which to draw their set. With great enthusiasm, they managed to woo the Quo crowd and played very professionally - people were convinced queuing during the Gidea Park soundcheck that the Beach Boys were actually there! A good hour of singalong surfin’ music, only the weather was un-Californian (but that didn’t seem to matter) and Gidea Park did an excellent warm-up job.
The next act needed no introduction and the down-to-earth, unpretentious basic rock ‘n’ roll expected of Shakin’ Stevens was exactly what was delivered. Only the bass player (who looked like an extra from the Blues Brothers) and drummer had played with Shaky (as his fans affectionately call him) before, for the rest of the band it was their first time playing together. Shaky looked in good shape, sharply kitted out in a black suit and with the trademark hairstyle in place. All the classic songs were there and no-one seemed to mind losing their street-cred by singing along! Shaky seemed surprised by just how good a reception he got and it was an effort to get him to leave the stage in the end. While many of his songs sound very similar, the delivery was professional and the crowd clearly enjoyed Shaky’s hour-long set - it’s been a while since we’ve seen or heard much of Shakin’ Stevens in the UK but I wouldn’t be surprised if this well-received gig whets his appetite for a few more live shows sometime soon.
Well and truly warmed up, an anxious hour passed while Tonto and co. fixed up the stage and gear in readiness for Quo. There was more than a little apprehension about Rick’s condition amongst the front rows - it was fingers crossed as Quo burst on stage at 9.30 with "Paper Plane". A svelte and healthy looking Rick was standing there once again, thrashing out those riffs like he’d never been away. The first few songs saw him taking things a little easier than ‘normal’ but once the crowd were ‘up’, he couldn’t resist giving it everything again. After three songs, Francis gave us his usual banter "How are you then, alright?" but there was only one thing he could say, "Rick Parfitt". The crowd went wild, Rick hugged Francis and the emotions were clear to see, a very poignant moment - we’d given him his "Welcome Back", now to get on with the job in hand!
The Quo set was identical to that used on the Australian tour, only "Down Down" was lost. For UK fans, the reintroduction of "Roll Over Lay Down" and "Rain" was a revelation, while Rick got a perhaps unnecessarily strong test with "Get Out Of Denver" (seeing Francis anxiously looking at Rick and patting his chest!). "Gerdundula" was once again a highlight of ‘part one’ and this part almost met a premature end as Rick launched himself into "Roadhouse Blues" one song too early - the rest of the band just stood and watched him make a fool of himself!
After a brief interval, part two kicked off with Rick centre stage in that classic opening to "Caroline", there was now no doubt that he was back! The momentum continued into the adored "Rain" before the usual closing pair of "Anniversary Waltz" and "Bye Bye Johnny". So, was Rick too tired to be bothered with "Batman"? No way! He took no encouragement and his broad grin said it all, this gig had said it all, "I’m back and back to stay". It was clear that much effort had been made by all the band to make this gig a good one, and it most certainly was. Never any question of an easy ride for Rick, it was all or nothing, and Quo pulled together an impressive and very tight performance.
There was never any doubt that this was going to be a gig where all eyes were on Rick, the camera pit was packed and they only wanted pictures of one man really. It was brilliant to see Rick looking so well and playing just like his old self - if this gig was meant to inspire confidence then it was definitely a runaway success. The venue could have been chosen better and distance spotlights were needed at times, but these are minor quibbles on what was a great night - a great Quo night. We left happy, Quo left happy - what more can anyone ask?Revisit the August 1997 event list
Rick Parfitt was interviewed by Frances Hardy for the Daily Mail's "Weekend" supplement on Saturday August 2nd. The 3-page spread included a lovely full-page shot of Rick sitting next to the Thames as well as a posed shot with Laura McNeil and historical pictures of him with both Marietta and Patty.
The interview concentrated on Rick's change of lifestyle following his heart bypass operation and how his relationship with Laura had helped him through it. There is the usual treatment of his past as well, but the bulk of the material is new and sees Rick in a very contemplative state of mind.Revisit the August 1997 event list
This review of Quo's gig at Frederickshaven was written by John-Alex Berglund.
I've just returned from a short holiday-trip where I managed to attend the Knivholt Festival in Fredrikshavn, Denmark. Rick's back! Quo's back! Rocking as ever! This was my major top experience of Quo in a long time! (at least since my previous Quo-concert last year...:-)
For us, it was only a two hour ride with a ferry from Kristiansand, Norway, and then half an hour by car. During the travel we all were quiet by excitement, looking forward to an evening of rememberance. The festival was held at Knivholt, a farm just outside Fredrikshavn, the most northern town in Denmark, and included some Danish pop groups (Tiggy, Tres Umbrellos and You Know Who) before the main attraction of the evening was announced: S T A T U S Q U O!
There was no doubt about why the crowd had gathered this night - about 2000(?) people of all ages started to chant the well-known mayhem "Quo-oh-oh-oh-oh" as the band entered the stage.
The gig started up with Paper Plane, and the crowd was really rocking - from first row to the very back of the audience. And everyone kept rocking as the show went on. The set was the same as at the Norwich show: Softer Ride, The Wanderer, Backwater, the Mystery Song medley, Gerdundula, Roll Over Lay Down, Get Out Of Denver, Whatever You Want, In The Army Now, Something 'Bout You Baby I Like, Don't Waste My Time, Rockin' All Over The World and finally Roadhouse Blues.
It was really back to basics, Quo-boogie-rock'n'roll. Except a few songs, the set was all good old songs from the glamourous 70s. (Just to have mentioned it: There were nothing wrong with any of the newer songs, either :-) For the first time I wasn't standing in the first row - it was too crowded to bring along a little girl - even though she was sitting (eh, jumping) on my shoulders Most Of The Time. I, my wife, Rose Esther (who previously only had been to a Quo concert with the new band in 1986) and my daughter, Shanie (who had never before been to a Quo concert in her five first years), was standing right in front of the mixing table. The sound was brilliant back there, and we were jumping and dancing througout the entire show. At the end we were more than ready for a shower, all wet and dirty (from the dust and the sand). And I had to buy me a new Quo shirt (as if I wouldn't have done that anyway? :-)
While sitting (well, jumping) on my dancing shoulders, Shanie (my 5 year old), was trying to dance (well, again, jumping). She was singing along and clapping her hands to most of the songs. And occasionally she revealed that *THIS* was her "favourite song" (Whatever You Want and In The Army Now, among others...And when the riff of Roadhouse Blues started, she told me with excitement that this was a "funny song" :-)
I was very pleased to discover Rain as one of the songs in the encore (after Caroline), as this is one of my favourites (eh, well, as most Quo tunes are :-). When Bye Bye Johnny faded away we were all very pleased with the evening - it was indeed worthwhile waiting for four hours while the other bands played ... I felt that this was the best and most inspired Quo concert that I've been to; I've never before experienced this amount of energy and joy from the band! And certainly: Rick's back in shape! And his incident seems to have inspired the entire band! And this is the first time I've experienced a show where even the back rows were rocking like this!
To all of you that are planning to go a Quo show in the near future: Prepare yourself for an experience of ENERGY, JOY and raw ROCK'N'ROLL!!!
After the show, while heading homewards (another two hours ferry, and four hours by car, back to Oslo), we all agreed that this was an experience of a life-time (Even my wife agreed that this was worth the extra travel and expense, and Shanie, even though she was exhausted, was eager to tell all her friends about it - and this may well be standing as an all time high for her - even though her young age; that is if I don't bring her along to another Quo gig, like she's probably likely to beg for now! :-)Revisit the August 1997 event list