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That was the Quo month that was ... December 1998

9th - Quo concert at Doncaster Dome

The following review was written by Rick Norman following his trip to see Quo at Doncaster Dome on December 9th.

Had a brilliant time at The Dome last night. Gig sold out 3020 fans.

T'pau are awesome, they were on stage for about 45 minutes. Carol Decker can definitely belt out a rocker, her backing band were enthusiastic and certainly enjoyed themselves. The capacity crowd, who all seemed to be in attendance during T'pau gave the band the support they deserved. I must say that T'pau at Donny was better received than Paul Rodgers at Sheffield last year. On the basis of their performance I would pay to see them in a headlining capacity.

The new album seems to be a belter from the selection of tracks that I've heard. I'm sure that it'll be successful for them. Radio 2 have managed to get Shania Twain into the top ten so I'm sure with a bit of air play on Radio 2, Quo can repeat a feat that has eluded them for 8 years.

Quo hit the stage at 8:45 and played the familiar I.G.T.T set list. They were very enthusiastic, gave a full 120 % throughout the show. Rossi was in excellent form and interacted with the crowd throughout. The level of playing was fantastic. They were probably tighter than in the 91/92 tours - IMHO they were at their best. The band finally left the stage at 10:25. A full 100 minutes. This is the very same length of show as my first in 1989.

PS During Livin Doll, a Blow up Doll was produced in the crowd, Rick changed the words of the song to suit!!

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11th - Quo concert at Bournemouth International Centre

A misty December day welcomed me to the first gig on my UK tour this year at the Bournemouth International Centre. The queue got going early but at least queuing here is a civilized operation, being as it is inside the main doors of the venue and not exposed to the elements in true Quo fashion. After sampling the Christmas shopping crowds and the hospitality of the J J Murphy's Irish pub, I headed for the now somewhat longer queue at about 6.30. Soon afterwards, the doors opened and a healthy audience took up their usual positions up front. A while to go though and so a nice chance to chat with Par Engstrom before returning to the Windsor Hall, joining Alex Gitlin and waiting for T'Pau.

Seemingly recovered from her recent flu, Carol Decker and co. took the stage at 7.30 and banged out their standard 45-minute set. The small BIC was nicely filled for them and the crowd were encouragable, giving Decker warm responses to her efforts. The Quo faithful are becoming very used to the set now and even the songs from the new T'Pau album "Red" are sounding familiar. As always, "China In Your Hand" was used to close their set and received great participation which the band clearly revelled in. By 8.15, it was all hands to the pumps once more as T'Pau left the stage and preparations were made for Quo.

The Hall filled completely by 8.45 when the lights went down to herald the arrival of Quo on stage. The lack of any sort of intro is a little disconcerting and the strains of "Down Down" appeared just before the curtain dropped to reveal the band astride Jeff's kit once more. Always greeted well, "Down Down" got everyone in the mood and following up immediately with "Hold You Back" only got them bouncing more. "Backwater", "One Man Band", "Softer Ride" and "The Wanderer" carried on the momentum before "Living On An Island" gave everyone (apart from Rick) something of a rest. The full version of this with its new little nuances is a fine introduction to the set and works surprisingly well, both as a rest piece for the band and the audience. The reintroduction of "Dirty Water" to follow is a great choice, although Francis didn't allow much intro, so "the rabble" as he used to so affectionately call his hecklers in the run up to this song will have to find a new home.

Typically, Francis went on to give his usual banter to introduce "Gerdundula", with a smattering of Germans in to keep him on his toes. Once again, this song shone out as an example of just how good Quo's playing has become - so tight, Francis never missed a note and the wander back to the drumkit to end the song can keep them amused for as long or as short as they fancy! One of my all time Quo favourites next in the shape of "Roll Over Lay Down", a hard and heavy Quo track which never fails live. Then into the popularist threesome of "In The Army Now", "Whatever You Want" and "Rockin' All Over The World", before the "Mystery Song" medley closed part one in style. Just over an hour for the first part and a welcome few minutes to catch breath before Quo reappeared to the BIC now in full voice.

The encore was all too rushed but the "Rain" and "Caroline" duo kicked it off in impressive style before "Burning Bridges" got everyone "on their toes" - a poor album track but a super live one, strangely present in the UK version of the set but not the German one. Next up, "The Anniversary Waltz", a choice which for me is becoming too tired and familiar. Anything but familiar, Rick's short rendition of "Living Doll" caught a lot of the audience on the hop, before he put his rock hat back on and launched into "Rock n Roll Music" as precursor to "Bye Bye Johnny", another very short Bye Bye and the show was over.

A fine Quo performance and a good start to the UK tour for me - Quo looked very match fit after their hectic German tour and few UK shows. The new set seemed to go down well and the BIC was full and ready for a good night. The only complaints were directed towards the length of set (around 85 minutes here) and the fact that the whole show seemed a little bit too off pat, very choreographed, very samey night after night. That said, the band played so tight (and now usually does) that the same set is bound to sound much the same gig after gig these days.

A good start and nice to meet some familiar faces in Alex Gitlin, Par Engstrom, Juergen Schrader, Jennie Walker and Mike Paxman.

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12th - Quo concert at Wembley Arena

The annual event which is the Wembley Arena weekend always sees fans from far and wide flock together at The Greyhound pub for what is one of the best Quo meets of the year. This year was exceptional in two ways - only one Wembley gig on the December tour rather than the traditional (and expected) two and a huge meeting. With fans from as far afield as Australia, Germany, Holland, Sweden, France and the US, the pub was packed. The mailing list was vastly represented and the newcomers to this annual meeting were welcomed as old friends. Non-list fans easily outnumbered us of course and another friend gained entry to the "200 Club", with the traditional 'reward' of a stripper and limo to the gig !! The meeting was so friendly and large that few were interested in leaving it for T'Pau and we trundled down to the Arena later in readiness for Quo.

With only one night here on this tour, the Arena was bound to be nearly full and it was great to see no evidence of curtained-off areas for the first time in many a show at the venue. By 8.30, the place was nicely filled and the usual Mexican waves started and a jolly atmosphere prevailed. Quo took stage at 8.50 and were welcomed by that rush that only a big crowd can muster. They weren't to be disappointed - Quo revelled in their magnitude and gave a fine performance of the same set as the previous night, the crowd gave their all too and audience participation was very good. I had my best air guitar session for many a while with a German friend and even the Wembley security (at least where I was) had lightened up and 'permitted' dancing in the aisles.

This was a fun afternoon and evening - from the fan meeting and a few drinks, to the gig and a good crowd. Lots of Quo family and friends were around too (look out for 'Little Egypt' on tour in March and the new CD will be out soon, says Nick). With my personal thanks to all the people I met on Saturday (you're too numerous to mention individually and I wouldn't want to forget anyone) and to Mike Paxman for attending the mailing list meeting.

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13th - Quo concert at Oxford Apollo

Not since 1984 had Quo played in Oxford, so their trip to the Apollo must have been a journey down memory lane. The "new boys" hadn't played the venue since their Judie Tzuke days - and some venue it is too. After the huge Wembley Arena, welcome to your front room !! The small theatre is a classic 70s Quo venue - small (approx 1500 seater), narrow, balconies and cosy. The padded cinema style seats got little use though and the "sold out" signs plastering the theatre's exterior were a good omen for what was to come.

The chance to yet again meet some familiar faces proved too hard to ignore and so T'Pau were again given a miss this evening, although they did get a good crowd in the theatre. List members included Juergen, Jennie, Debbie and Jo (from Oz), Timmy Langner and Kev Sullivan. The time for Quo soon rolled round and down to row 2 for me and Kev for another "up front" experience, though even those at the back here were closer than they'd ever be at most venues.

Surprsingly, Quo kicked off and didn't get the kind of reception I'm sure they expected at such an intimate venue, but it thankfully wasn't too long before the crowd got going and showed no further signs of being acoustically challenged. The same set flowed again, apart from "Burning Bridges" which curiously disappeared from the encore and "Living Doll" became "Travelling Light" for a change. Battling a heavy cold, Rick pulled off a true pro's performance and again the band were tight and accurate and seemed to really enjoy themselves once the place got going.

A few funny moments during the gig which saw the whole band creased up with laughter - someone threw a pair of handcuffs on stage, directed at Rick. After some curious expressions, he picked them up and hung them off his mike stand for the rest of the gig. During "Gerdundula", the band were doing their wander backwards to the drum kit when Andy tripped over Francis' guitar pedalboard - no sympathy from the rest though, they just laughed hysterically and added a while longer to this great song. And even Francis made a cock up for once - in the first "talky bit" when he's meant to introduce "One Man Band" (typically as "a song that Richard wrote"), he went back in time to when the Mystery Medley came in this slot, so we got the old familiar "some tracks very cleverly thrown together".....!!

A fabulous Quo venue, with character and gusto. A full house ensured a great night and the band seemed in playful mood, the few slight errors and funnies giving both them and us something different. Good to see a "sold out" gig and good to see that Quo can still pack them in at these intimate old venues, must be good for their morale and it's a great privilege for the few that manage to see them in such venues.

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16th - Quo concert at Cardiff International Arena

A beautiful sunny day welcomed the Quo faithful to Cardiff, amidst the full force of Christmas shoppers. A back entrance wait went unrewarded so a chance for a few drinks with a few of the mailers (Jennie, Kev Sullivan and Debbie and Jo) before wandering back to the International Arena. While waiting around and soaking up the pre-concert atmosphere, one of Wales' favourite sons Terry Griffiths arrived with his wife, hopefully for a rocking night out. T'Pau were once again missed but we heard them nonetheless while hanging around the bar for a bit more socialising.

Quotime soon rolled round and in we went and me and Kev took up our front row positions. The Arena was completely full again and is a perfectly sized Quo venue with a great atmosphere when it gets going. Quo appeared at their regular 8.50 and away we went again on a Quo-trip to heaven - the full set here including "Burning Bridges" and "Living Doll" (and, yes, once again the Quo crowd knew the words....). The famous Welsh vocal talents were put to the test as ever by Quo singalong and no disappointments on that front, the Welsh choirboys doing Quo proud. The set was well received here and even Francis allowed a slightly longer "Dirty Water" intro.

Another good Cardiff crowd on Quo's only excursion onto Welsh soil this year and a solid performance from Quo again with no significant changes to the set, the only unknown at the moment being the order of "Rain" and "Caroline" in the encore!!

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18th - Quo concert at Nottingham Royal Concert Hall

For their first gig at the Royal Concert Hall at Nottingham, Quo shared the Royal Centre with panto in the afternoon for their soundcheck. A cold and wet stage door wait saw Rick Parfitt signing lots of autographs but no sign of Francis, and the rest of the band cheated by using the 'tunnel' from their hotel to the venue. With no set place to meet, it was onto the venue itself in readiness for T'Pau.

Entering the hall came as a shock, so small and seats right up to the stage like in Oxford. Row two beckoned for me and I met list member Rob Steele in the next seat just before T'Pau took the stage at 7.30 to a half full hall. They again played well and got some interaction going with the audience, the hall filling all the time as they played. Decker grows more confident all the time with her new band and had the audacity to suggest their new album "Red" as a good Christmas present - available in the foyer of course!!

The 2700 seat hall was packed full by the time Quo arrived at 8.50. The front row had the honour of actually leaning on the stage rather than some unfriendly security barrier, while the close front rows had a view to die for. To experience Quo in a venue like this is something so different to a Wembley or NEC Arena - much more intimate, much more in your face, you just feel closer to the action. Quo revelled in the place, with everyone playing with members of the front row throughout the gig. Rhino poked his guitar neck all along the row many times, desperate to knock a guy's hat off but never quite making it! Rossi also took full advantage of the chance to be up close and personal. The Quo set was as usual but no "Burning Bridges" which was somewhat surprising given that the crowd were so up for it here - this meant Quo left stage at just after 10.15, woefully short and it felt like it. That said, this was one of my best gigs in a long time - it reminded me of some of the shows I saw in Australia in 1997 when Quo came back to small venues, an awesome spectacle and something to really feel part of. Award of the night had to go to Rhino this time - someone up front was throwing sweets onto the stage, Rossi got one but Rhino (and his self-admitted "big mouth"!) caught his mid-flight in his mouth, giving the crowd something to cheer about and the rest of the band a good old chuckle into the bargain.

A playful and enthusiastic Quo performance, a capacity crowd, a fine and relaxed venue - all the essential ingredients for a Quo night to remember; and this it was.

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18th - Quo fan article in The Sun

The following article appeared in The Sun newspaper on Friday December 18th, headlined "PLODDING ALL OVER THE WORLD - PC Dean sees Quo 100 times". It was written by Chris Pharo.

Beat bobby Dean Rogers has travelled 15,000 miles to watch his idols Status Quo in Concert 100 times. Yesterday, devoted Dean, 26, was celebrating notching up his ton. And he was finally introduced to band leaders Rick Parfitt, 50, and Francis Rossi, 49. Dean has spent 10,000 GBP buying every CD, tape and record made by Quo and even paid 200 GBP for one disc. He also has every video and book about the band. Each December for 10 years, Dean has followed their annual UK tour.

He said yesterday: 'I save up all my leave so I can go to all their concerts. I spend up to 2,000GBP on accommodation, travel, and tickets.'

Dean, a cop for seven years at Pontypridd, Mid Glam, drives his wife Emma, 28, mad with his love for Quo, whose hits include "Rocking All Over The World". They have not had a holiday since marrying, 18 months ago, and Dean has turned a room at their house in Taff's Well, Cardiff, into a shrine to Quo. His prized possessions include two autographed Fender Telecaster guitars, although he cannot play a note.

He said: ' After a tough day on the beat, I put on a Quo record and I have a head-banging session.'

Rocker Rick joked: 'Police are on our tail, again.' But he added: 'We are lucky to have fans like Dean'.

Dean will see Quo for the 101st time tomorrow night at the NEC, Birmingham.'

[Photo1: Dean in police uniform, holding a green Fender in classic Quo pose
Photo2: Rick, Dean, Francis, holding guitars, with Quo's stack behind them; Dean is grinning ear to ear! Francis looks like he is doing a particularly tricky solo.]

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19th - Quo concert at Birmingham NEC

My thirteenth annual visit to the NEC in December, but this was not be unlucky. With a sole gig here instead of the traditional two, a good crowd was ensured but even I was surprised to see the Arena almost full with no sign of the dreaded curtained off areas of recent times. T'Pau were missed this evening in favour of a nice meeting with Suzie, Kev M, Duncan, Graeme Winter, Debbie, Jo, Jennie and Lis Thompson. With good seats all round, we took up our positions early ready for Quo.

The usual suspects again adorned the front rows, but this time more of us had the hallowed front row, the foreign contingent doing especially well between them. The Mexican waves were brilliant, the Arena nice and noisy and ready for a good rockin' night. Quo appeared again at 8.50, the curtain dropped and they were faced with perhaps their largest audience this tour and certainly their largest audience at the NEC in years. The full set was rolled out here again and the singalong numbers were awesome thanks to such a good sized crowd. We even got a long intro to "Dirty Water" just like old times and "In The Army Now"'s "Stand up and fight" lifted the roof.

How many times has Rick Parfitt played "Caroline" I wonder? His rendition on Saturday is probably one he'd rather forget after stuffing up the intro in impressive style !! He started to go wrong so Francis started to go wrong on his lead and on it went until Rick gave up. He got little in the way of sympathy from his fellow band members, everyone being in hysterics and Francis shaking his head playfully. Second time lucky though and this remains one of Quo's classic live tracks, guaranteed to lift the spirits of any crowd. Not that this crowd needed much encouragement, from the word go they were up for it and the sight of 10,000-plus people all clapping and singing "Bye Bye Johnny" (not to mention "Living Doll"....!) was a spectacular sight to see and must be inspiration for the band to carry on and maybe tour again next year.

Fabulous to see the NEC Arena so full and good to see so many familiar faces once more. A great atmosphere and a fine performance from Quo, undoubtedly lifted by the brilliant crowd. The cameras were out to provide the big screens for those further back, so why wasn't it being recorded????

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23rd - Quo concert at Swindon Oasis Centre

A somewhat tired Quo entourage arrived at Swindon to join a small queue outside the Oasis Leisure Centre, their spirits to be further tested as the rain came down. Taking pity on us perhaps, the queue was allowed inside the venue before doors finally opened at just before 7pm. T'Pau took the stage at 7.30 to confront a decent early crowd and the Oasis gave them a superb reception. Decker and Co. gave their best performance of the tour for me, looking confident and polished in their delivery. Carol thanked Quo for their support slot in traditional fashion and the band left the stage for their final show looking very pleased with their night's work. Much questioned as a choice of support act, T'Pau executed their task well in my opinion and at least gave their all to make the best of it. I wish them well with their comeback.

With a sense of anticipation of finally ending their tour's work, the familiar Quo crew went through their choreographed routine to make ready the small stage for Quo. Showtime arrived and the curtain dropped for the last time. The now familiar set (excluding "Burning Bridges") came and went, with the longest version of "Living Doll" this tour..... Francis was unhappy from the start with the Oasis's dubious acoustics (although I don't remember him being quite so vocal on the subject on their last visit two years ago) but the band put on a good show. At the end of such a long and arduous period of touring in Germany and the UK, Francis and Jeff in particular still looked very fresh, but Rhino's bout of flu seemed to be taking its toll. Packed to the hilt, the Swindon crowd were quite responsive and there was no sense of disappointment as "Bye Bye Johnny" rung out for the last time.

The tour regulars congregated around after the show and the sadness was clear to see, life after the tour suddenly becoming reality after the dreamlike state of night after night of gigging. A few tears were seen to be shed, but I think most of us counted ourselves lucky to have seen so much Quo again this year. A successful tour, mainly full arenas and a set which worked despite initial reservations. Here's to next year then....

Revisit the December 1998 event list