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That was the Quo month that was ... December 2015

4th - Quo concert at SSE Hydro, Glasgow

Quo played the second of two gigs in Scotland with a show at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow on 4th December. The following review of the gig appeared on Metaltalk and was written by Johnny Main.

"My mum and dad used to say to me "It must be near Christmas – you're off to see Status Quo" such was the timing of the band's annual UK Winter tour.

For as long as I've been a fan (some twenty seven years and counting, if you're interested) they've always toured the UK in November and December and there's something gratifyingly cosy about their pre-Christmas jaunt up to Glasgow.

Of course the naysayers will claim this isn't Status Quo but some parody of a once great rock band, and the current set up are often maligned as "Panto Quo", "Quo-Lite" or some other disingenuous moniker, but I dislike these names and enjoyed most of the tracks played during the band's seventy minute plus set.

The current Status Quo line up are Status Quo in the same way that the current AC/DC line up is AC/DC – band members may come and go, but the core of the band remains resolutely the same.

The current Status Quo line up still sell out venues (that's a fact, by the way), just not The SSE Hydro in Glasgow on a wet and miserable raining Friday night it seems.

The band's sound may have softened a bit since their heyday in the Seventies but guitarist Rick Parfitt battering out the opening riff to 'Caroline' must surely send a shiver down every the spine of every Quo fan.

The set list for this year's Winter Tour has been the subject of much negativity from Quo's often hard to please fan base, with them moaning about its lack of change over the years, but this tour is here to plug the band's latest compilation album, 'The Definitive Hits' so the hits (and let's face it, there are lot of them) are on show for all those who ventured out on a very stormy Friday in Glasgow.

From 'The Wanderer' which has some of the audience bobbing along to the jaunty rhythm, the band go straight into their early Eighties rocker 'Something 'bout You Baby I Like' before Parfitt comes into his own with a duo of Seventies numbers in the shape of 'Rain' and 'Little Lady'.

Eighties top five hit, 'Burning Bridges' is usually saved for the encore at Quo gigs and its position this early in the set took some people by surprise but it still gets the masses jumping around as it always does.

There's a brand new medley, with an amalgam of five songs, and it's kicked off with another Eighties hit – 'What You're Proposing' however, it's not the best thought out Quo medley ever.

I'm of the school of thought of why play a medley when you can play the songs in their entirety – especially when it comes to a stone cold classic like – 'What You're Proposing'. Then again, this tour's all about getting as many hits out there as possible, and the medley whizzes past before being followed up by the rockier 'Big Fat Mama' in full. Nice!

Another sticking point for me is the inclusion of 'The Oriental' and 'Creepin' Up on You', both of which have been included in the set since 2002 when they were first released on the 'Heavy Traffic' album.

Good as they are, they're getting a wee bit past their sell by date and I'd rather the band had slotted in a couple of newer tracks like 'Two Way Traffic' or 'Go Go Go' but then again, I'm happy that 2007's 'Beginning of the End' is still included in their current set, so it's all down to personal opinion in the end, isn't it?

Front man Francis Rossi seems to be going through the motions a bit and his sparkle seemed to have faded as the gig progressed. He plays off the crowd at the appropriate moments, however, and gets them laughing and giggling with his rehearsed bits of showmanship.

It's not until "the big four" hits of 'Roll Over Lay Down', 'Down Down', 'Whatever You Want' and the ubiquitous 'Rockin' All Over the World' that the audience seem to really come alive. Most of these tracks have been staples in the Quo set for, well, years and the audience reaction to them tells you why.

As the final chords to 'Rockin' All Over the World' die down, the band disappear off for a quick break before returning for the encore, which is kicked off with early Seventies gem, Paper Plane'.

As the evening climaxes with a duo of Chuck Berry covers ('Rock and Roll Music' and a shortened version of 'Bye Bye Johnny'), the band bids a final farewell.

Thankfully there were no Christmas medleys this year, but as expected, no amazingly different songs included from the band's tried and tested formula.

Quo are a band to entertain the masses and they do – 'Again and Again' (if you'll excuse the pun). With rumours of the band stopping touring in the next couple of years it seems like I'll have to find another pre-Christmas gig to attend, but until that day comes, you can book me a ticket for next Christmas' Quo show in Glasgow.

It's just that I'd rather see them book The Academy, the ABC or The Barrowlands as opposed to the cavernous Hydro and have it less than half full.

Status Quo Set List

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4th - "Hello", "Quo" and "Rockin' All Over The World" Deluxe editions released (UK)

Long-awaited Deluxe double CD editions of the iconic Quo albums "Hello", "Quo" and "Rockin' All Over The World" were released on 4th December. The following press release was issued a couple of months earlier.

"Status Quo are delighted to announce the release of deluxe expanded 2 CD versions of a trio of classic albums that were released on the revered Vertigo label, namely ‘Hello’, ‘Quo’ and ‘Rockin' All Over The World’. These special editions are to be issued by UMC, on 4th December 2015. These carefully curated special releases come with an enhanced booklet containing new notes by Classic Rock’s Dave Ling and also feature rare photos and memorabilia from the band’s personal collection.

‘Hello’ contains the band anthems ‘Roll Over Lay Down’, ‘Caroline’ and the live classic ‘Forty Five Hundred Times’. The album was originally released in 1973. This version has been mastered by Andy Pearce with the assistance of ‘5th band member’ Bob Young from the original tapes and has a bonus disc featuring three unreleased tracks from the band’s archive as well as alternative versions of ‘Caroline’ and a live track recorded at Reading Festival 1973.

‘Quo’ is another one of Status Quo’s finest albums – originally released in 1974 and boasting a slew of the fans’ live favourites it is rightly regarded as one of the band’s best early records. Also mastered by Andy Pearce with the assistance of Bob Young from the original tapes, ‘Quo’ comes packaged with a bonus disc of a live concert from the band’s archive of a show from Paris L’Olympia.

‘Rockin’ All Over The World’ was originally released in 1977 and contains the title track, unquestionably now the band’s anthem as well as a clutch of other stone cold Quo classics. Again mastered by Andy Pearce with Bob Young, this title now comes with a bonus disc featuring a new remix of the whole album by original engineer John Eden as well as 4 unreleased bonus demo tracks from the band’s archive. The remix by John Eden really brings a fresh approach and life to these tracks – the band themselves loved these new versions and look forward to some feedback from the fans!

Exclusive to the Official Store, everyone who pre-orders one of the Deluxe Editions has the chance to win a Meet & Greet and a pair of tickets to see Status Quo at a show of their choice during the Accept No Substitute 2015 Tour.

These releases are fully supported and endorsed by the band members, past and present – and represent a triumphant revisiting of the glory days of one of the world’s most important rock acts."

While "Hello" and "Quo" both contain previously unreleased tracks (most notably the poor quality Paris L'Olympia tracks on the "Quo" album), it was "Rockin' All Over The World" that had been most anticipated because of the full remix of the album by original engineer, John Eden.

The following reviews of these reissues appeared on Metaltalk, written by Johnny Main.

"Status Quo – forever those denim clad no-nonsense boogie rockers, and whether you like them or not, they are one of the UK's most successful acts having had more UK hit singles than any other band and appeared on BBC TV's Top Of The Pops a staggering 106 times (also more than any other band), but no-one divides opinion quite like them – especially if you're a Status Quo fan.

Quo stalwarts Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt are gearing up for the 50th anniversary of the band's first ever hit single, 'Pictures of Matchstick Men', in 2017 while rumours abound about the band finally retiring.

With all this in the future, the emphasis on recent Quo releases has been directed towards the rich history of the band. A compilation CD (and accompanying DVD) was released earlier this month which collated a large number of hit singles along with some more well known album tracks as part of a 'Definitive Hits' package.

The record company archives look like they are finally being raided for some deluxe double disc editions bringing together rare and in some cases previously unreleased material alongside spruced up original albums.

The most recent releases include the 'Hello', 'Quo' and the 'Rocking All Over The World' studio original albums, all of which have been mastered from the original master tapes by Andy Pearce with the assistance of Quo's unofficial 'fifth band member' Bob Young.

They include updated booklets containing rare photos and memorabilia from the band's personal collections as well as brand new and extensive notes by Dave Ling.

It should be noted there that was a 'Piledriver' deluxe edition which surfaced in March 2014, which was also a double disc affair. Containing a cleaned up version of the original album it also included a handful of tracks recorded for the 'BBC Sounds Of The Seventies' programme, a couple of tracks from a John Peel radio session and tracks recorded at the Paris Theatre in London in 1973.

Disappointingly, most of this material was already available so with the best intentions, this was never going to entice many of the hardcore Quo fans to part with their hard earned cash but did have them in full-on moaning mode!

Like the 'Piledriver' release, these new deluxe editions are very much a mixed bag as far as the Quo fan base is concerned but they still contain some very interesting material for the more casual fan.

Looking at 'Hello' album first, this is a bonafide classic album as far as the band are concerned. Not one track from the original album hasn't been played live at some point in the band's career, and yet the band (or should that be Rossi) still can't be convinced the play the entire album during a gig.

From the crunching riff to 'Roll Over Lay Down' through the almost country feel of 'Claudie', straight past the sprightly 'Blue Eyed Lady' before culminating in the epic 'Forty-Five Hundred Times', this album shows Quo are their early hard rocking best.

As far as the bonus material on the second is concerned, it's all a bit disappointing to be honest. 'Joanne' was included on the 2005 single disc remaster while the 'Caroline' mono version and stereo edit are nice to hear but they don't really add much in the way of value.

The original fast and slow demos of 'Caroline' are interesting listens too, and along with the 'Is It Really Me/Gotta Go Home' live cut from the April 1973 gig at the National Stadium in Dublin represent the only unreleased material on the disc.

If I'm being honest, I was hoping for the archives to be trawled through to uncover more previously unreleased live material but then again, maybe this is all that survives in the band's archives from this particular moment in Quo history.

Originally released in 1974, the 'Quo' album kicks off with a solid pairing of 'Backwater' and 'Just Take Me' before 'Break The Rules' which is something of a rarity as it's credited to all five members of the band.

Included many times in the band's live set, 'Break The Rules' has been given a rest over the last couple of years but still remains a genuine fan favourite. 'Don't Think It Matters' on the other hand is one of the Quo fans most requested songs to be added to the live set list but so far, the band have resisted the temptation of playing it live.

The 'Quo' album originally peaked at number two in the UK charts, and is considered by many Quo fans to be one of their heaviest, with the reason for this firmly placed at the door of then bass player Alan Lancaster, who is credited with co-writing six of the eight tracks.

Alongside the studio album, the deluxe edition adds in the studio track 'Lonely Night' along with a complete set from the band's January 1975 from the L'Olympia in Paris.

This previously unreleased gig kicks off with a heavy version of the Steamhammer song, 'Junior's Wailing' (the band's standard opening number for many years) before taking you on a roller coaster ride through their burgeoning back catalogue.

Quite how this set has remained unreleased for so long is a mystery as it certainly shows how heavy Quo were back in the early Seventies. The previous two years had seen them produce 'Piledriver' and 'Hello' and with 'Quo' following suit, they had a wealth of material to choose from and the performance doesn't contain any tracks that don't truly deserve to be there.

When you mention Status Quo, most people would automatically think of the track 'Rocking All Over the World' which was first released back in 1977. Written by John Fogerty in 1975, it's not Quo's biggest hit, of course (it peaked at number 3 in the UK while 1975's 'Down Down' reached the top spot) but is certainly synonymous with the band.

In 1977, Quo brought in producer Pip Williams in for their tenth studio album having produced or co-produced their previous five albums themselves. It was felt, at the time, that Quo needed to try and break into the American market, something that had eluded them thus far, and Williams was judged as the best man for the job.

History will show, of course, that Quo never did break into the US market in the same way that the likes of Black Sabbath and Deep Purple had before them and in the view of many Quo fans the 'Rocking All Over the World' album proved to be a divisive turning point in the band's career.

The introduction of a poppier sound teamed up with more prominent keyboards proved too much for some European hard rock fans who began to desert the band.

The album is presented here as was in 1977 – twelve carefully crafted songs ranging from the hard rock sounds of 'You Don't Own Me' and 'Rockers Rollin'' to long time live favourites like 'Dirty Water' and 'Hold You Back', the catchy chorus led 'Can't Give You More' and the laid back groove of 'Baby Boy'.

Thankfully, the (frankly dire) version of The Beatles' 'Getting Better' previously included on the 2005 remaster, has been excised from this set as it really didn't do the band any favours.

Alongside the original album is a brand new and long awaited re-sequenced and remixed version of the original album by another Quo producer, John Eden.

It was Eden who produced a couple of early eighties Quo albums,'Just Supposin' and its 1981 follow up 'Never Too Late', and he was tasked with overhauling the original mix which was deemed to be too glossy and removed a lot of Quo's trademark hard rock elements.

Overall, the remixed version of the album is very good, but don't expect anything drastically different. For tracks like 'Hold You Back' and 'Rockers Rollin'', the count ins have been retained where before these were edited out, and with the former, instead of the track fading out as it's always done, it comes to an unrehearsed stop before you hear Rossi discussing the take.

Musically the album has a fresher sound with the keyboards toned down especially on 'Rockers Rollin'', giving it a more guitar orientated sound while the familiar intro to the title track is has its familiar sliding bass note at the top of the number reduced in volume slightly. Sure these are all subtle differences but make an altogether better sounding album.

If you take into account the fact that they've also added on four previously unreleased 1976 demo recordings as an extra bonus, then this is one very tidy package indeed.

Could the original mix (which most Quo fans already own) have been substituted with another live disc of unreleased material from around the 1977 tour? Probably, but that's a minor quibble from my point of view.

After a wait of over two years it's nice to finally have the remixed album out there and let's hope some of those who criticised the mix on the original album for all those years ago give this new remixed version a second chance."

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5th - Quo concert at Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham

Heading into England once more, Quo played a well-attended gig at the Barclaycard Arena (more commonly known as the National Indoor Arena) in Birmingham on 5th December. The following review of the gig appeared in The Birmingham Press, entitled "On and on they go" and written by Rachel Watts.

"With 2013’s album Bula Quo being the last release of any new Status Quo material, and currently on tour to support yet another greatest hits album, you could be forgiven for thinking that Status Quo might have become a bit jaded by now.

Even for the most loyal Quo fans, the last few years have been a bit of a rollercoaster ride. From the excitement and smaller venues of the 2013 and 2014 Frantic Four reunion tours; which saw the original members reunited to perform classic 1970’s tracks, to the release in October 2014 of classic reworked Quo songs on Aquostic – Stripped Bare; whilst not to every fans taste, certainly their most successful release in many years.

However, from the moment Status Quo opened the concert with the usual crowd pleaser, Caroline, it was clear that jaded was the very last thing they were. As the band thundered through classic Quo hit after hit, it was clear they were having the time of their lives, with Rossi on top form and Parfitt’s vocals sounding better than they have in a long time.

Quo have never been ones to mess around with the set list too much, but there were a few subtle changes since they were in Birmingham last year, we lost Hold You Back and Oh Baby, but gained The Wanderer. Burning Bridges came into the main show, with Paper Plane opening the encore for a change.

This tour may have been the ideal opportunity to drop The Oriental and Creeping up on You, both from the 2002 Heavy Traffic album, especially as it’s a Greatest Hits album, but for some reason they didn’t, and the crowd seemed to appreciate them.

Gerdundula has been a staple part of a Quo show for many years, with Rossi, Parfitt, Bown and Edwards all on guitar. With the arrival of new drummer Leon Cave, the song has been given a fresh lease of life as he comes front of stage to add an impressive drum beat to the track. Becoming the fifth Quo drummer upon joining the band in 2013, replacing Matt Letley, Cave seems to have revitalised the band, and has them matching his youthful energy. His impressive drum solo leading into Roll Over Lay Down certainly shows off his skill and talent, and proving more than capable of doing justice to the much loved Quo classics.

All in all, a truly great night of Quo classics, performed by a band that seems to be having as much fun on stage as the people in the crowd; and a band that don’t appear to be showing any signs of stopping, as they approach their 50th Anniversary."

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7th - Quo concert at Motorpoint Arena, Sheffield

The Quo entourage hit Sheffield on 7th December and the following review of the gig appeared in the UK's Express newspaper on 8th December, entitled "Rock legends Status Quo relentless at Sheffield Arena" and written by Paul Jeeves.

"Rock legends Status Quo were spinning in all directions as their relentless blitzkrieg of non-stop hits was interspersed with an on-stage game of tag.

“Ridiculous,” giggled Francis Rossi trying to avoid Rick Parfitt’s outstretched arm. “We’ve got a combined age of over 300 yet we’ve been playing this f***ing silly game all day. We should have stopped before the show really but nobody wants to be left as ‘it’.”

While the occasional mid-solo tap to a bandmate’s arm or sly between-song kick to the calf may seem a world-away from the heads-down no-nonsense boogie of Quo’s 1970s heyday, it perfectly captured the vibrant mood of a band belying their advancing years to remain a great British institution.

Uber relaxed yet attacking his six-string with an, at times intense ferocity, 66-year-old Rossi was simply on fire as he weaved trademark bluesy licks over blonde rhythm guitarist Parfitt’s metronomic 12-bar shuffles.

Of course this isn’t the Frantic Four version of Quo where those grinding shuffles made up entire two-hours shows, but when that distinctive groove hits home it still represents a magically unique sound.

Opener Caroline had the Sheffield crowd instantly on their feet but bums quickly found plastic as it was followed by a disappointing double whammy of cover version’s in the guise of Dion’s The Wanderer and Tom Jones’ Somethin’ ‘Bout You Baby I Like.

Thunderous renditions of Rain and Little Lady retrieve Quo’s heavy rock credentials but the slices of 70’s granite failed to get the same massive audience reaction as 1988’s festive hit Burning Bridges, with its Irish jig delighting those in the audience who are likely to have never been attracted by the appeal of long hair and patched denim jackets.

And that is the awkward dilemma the current line-up of Status Quo face. While half the audience go crazy for Big Fat Mama, Junior’s Wailing and Roll Over Lay Down others look-on bemused until the band hit In The Army Now, Rockin’ All Over The World and Whatever You Want.

Quo tackle this on-going problem by simply ploughing on regardless with a 25-song set ensuring there is pretty-much something for everyone. It works and by the time they launch into Paper Plane on the encore everyone is rocking out together in their own unique fashions.

Oh, and just for the record, bass player Rhino Edwards was left “it” but whether that is still the case when the tour concludes on Sunday at London’s 02 Arena remains to be seen."

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10th - Quo concert at Bournemouth International Centre

The "Accept No Substitutes" UK tour rolled onto the South coast on 10th December, with a gig in Bournemouth signalling the band were approaching the end of the tour.

Some good fan phots of the band in action at the International Centre can be found here, while the following review of the gig appeared in the Bournemouth Echo newspaper on 11th December (written by Victoria Davies).

"MY first rock concert, the atmosphere was very different to any other show I have seen and if I had to liken it to anything, it would probably be a football match; exciting, rowdy and a little daunting.

A timeless act as proven by the varied ages packed into the BIC tonight, Status Quo's 2015 tour is aptly named "Accept No Substitute".

Of course there were many jokes from the band about their age, but no apparent aging hindered their ability to rock out this venue with plenty of energy and passion as they performed hits practically back-to-back.

The show opened with the hits Caroline and The Wanderer before the band greeted their shouting fans.

Other hits included Little Lady and of course Rockin' All Over the World before a loudly anticipated encore of Paper Plane, Junior's Wailing and ending with Rock and Roll Music / Bye Bye Johnny.

What makes Status Quo special is their obvious auteurism; a signature sound across their songs.

The atmosphere was crazy, the energy infectious and the love for the rock group clear amongst a very lively audience.

Often people wonder why many musicians continue performing for decades when they could retire, but it is very obvious that these talented men love performing and with venues packed out over fifty years after their formation I doubt they will be tempted to give up any time soon."

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11th - Quo concert at Brighton Centre

The penultimate gig of the "Accept No Substitutes" UK tour took place on 11th December at the Brighton Centre.

Some good fan photos of the band in action in Brighton can be found here, while the following review of the gig appeared in The Argus newspaper on 13th December (written by Arron Hendy).

"IT MUST be Christmas if the mighty Quo are back at the Brighton Centre.

It has become an annual event and no matter how many times they come the venue is always full to bursting with fans of all ages chomping at the bit to rock the night away.

As the first chords of Caroline kicked in the majority of them were on their feet and that’s the way they stayed, swaying and bouncing to all the classics.

They have a loyal fanbase akin to those who support a football team who rise to their feet when they think their heroes are about to score a goal.

And the quo were banging them in all night.

Burning Bridges (on and off and on again) was the highlight for me but In the Army Now was great as was the likes of Down Down, Whatever You Want and Rockin’ All Over the World.

Francis Rossi did not speak to the crowd as much as last year but was in a buoyant mood, making everyone laugh with jokes like “nice to see lots of people in with my haircut”. He kept telling people to get their phones ready as his heart could give way any second. Rick Parfitt was as chipper as ever.

The band now has a combined aged of 2,841 years (or thereabouts) but you wouldn’t know it. Full of energy, they put bands a third of their age to shame. Long live the Quo. Just a shame they didn’t play their Christmas song.

Four stars out of five"

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13th - Quo concert at O2 Arena, London

The final gig of the "Accept No Substitutes" UK tour took place on 13th December at the O2 Arena in London and was recorded for posterity (by Live Here Now). Some professional photos of the band in action in London can be found here.

Revisit the December 2015 event list