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That was the Quo month that was ... June 2024

2nd - Quo concert at Open Air Theatre, Scarborough

For the first of my five gigs on the SQ24 tour, we headed to sunny Scarborough on 2nd June.

As we approached the Open Air theatre at about 4.30pm, there was already a reasonable queue of fans and we decided it was best to join it for the chance of securing a good position later on. It was great to see so many familiar faces and the time passed easily as we caught up with friends. In typical Quo gig fashion, there were queuing dramas when the security crew turned up and insisted that the queue had started in the wrong place and that everyone needed to move. The vast majority did the right thing as the queue was forced to form again further down the road and then split into multiple lanes. We kept our spots and eventually the floodgates were opened at 6pm and the usual dash to the front could begin in earnest! We ended up on the barrier, just in front of Rhino, so were very happy with that.

The Open Air theatre was bathed in lovely evening sunshine as the seats and standing area filled up. The venue was close to capacity with over 7,000 fans cramming in for the main event. The support for the evening was Mike Peters of The Alarm who took the stage a little later than anticipated at 7.45pm. His 45-minute set was very well received and there was a lot of love in the crowd for him, especially as he revealed the news of his recent cancer diagnosis. It was of course "68 Guns" that rounded out his time on stage and got the biggest reaction, closing out an an excellent opening set.

During Mike Peters' set, we noticed a guy doing sign language for all of the lyrics and spoken words coming from Mike. This was the first time we'd ever seen this at a gig and it obviously provides greater accessibility, so kudos to the organisers for being so inclusive. Little did we realise just how big a role this guy would play in what was to follow, though!

Quo took the stage at dead on 9pm and both they and the big crowd were up for it right from the start. The opening combo of "Caroline", "Rain" and "Little Lady" (with Richie's nice touch of singing "For Rick" right at the end) made for a heavy start and Francis was no doubt grateful for a break to address the audience. He'd spotted the guy signing and was clearly fascinated by him - and so began a series of interactions between him and Francis, with Francis having a lot of fun with him (but not at his expense). Hats off to the guy for being so open to the banter too, it was fantastic!

When Francis eventually stopped waffling, "Softer Ride" continued the heavy theme before "Beginning of the End" and the crowd-pleasing "Hold You Back" got the big crowd bouncing. More banter - and exchanges with the signing guy - followed, before the slightly reworked "What You're Proposing" medley (with a treatment of "Rollin' Home" I hadn't heard before), "The Oriental" and "In the Army Now" ("In My Chair" sadly didn't make it into the set here). All too soon, they were on the home stretch with the big four - "Roll Over Lay Down" was as heavy as it's been for a while, the extended and wonderful "Down Down" was just epic (and must have run to almost ten delightful minutes!), "Whatever You Want" gave Richie another chance to shine and then "Rockin' All Over the World" closed out the main set.

Despite rumours of an aggressive curfew, the band came back for one more song, in the shape of "Burning Bridges" and it went down well with this audience. "Paper Plane" was again on the setlist but the 10.30pm curfew had already been hit thanks in no small part to Francis talking too much!

As the band made their way off the stage, Richie made sure I got a plectrum (and he's become something of an expert at casting them to the right spot on the barrier!), a nice addition to my collection.

This was a top notch performance to a large, good-natured and willing crowd in Scarborough. It was our first time hearing this version of the set and it felt fresh, especially with "Down Down" becoming such a standout in the latter part of the set (the setlist follows).

An excellent review and professional photos from the Scarborough gig can be found here and also in the Scarborough News.

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4th - Quo concert at Swansea Arena, Swansea

My second gig on the SQ24 tour saw us leaving behind the sunshine in Scarborough for a showery, windy and chilly Swansea on 4th June! The very new Swansea Arena looked very impressive from the outside when we want for a wander in the afternoon and there was plenty of Quo-related digital signage around, despite the gig already being sold out.

Returning to the venue at about 6.30pm, the queue was enormous and stretched back across the bridge across the busy road next to the arena. The doors didn't open until around 7pm and various security checks & general mismanagement of the queue meant a very long wait to gain entry (maybe just growing pains for this as a new venue). Once inside, the main auditorium was impressive in scale and the raked seating area looked very steep (but at least meant everyone probably got a decent view). A seated spot in row 4 wasn't too bad as we settled in for the support.

Laurence Jones took the stage at 8pm and launched into a heavy and exceptionally loud 30-minute blues set. While blues isn't really my thing, he performed well and there was the inevitable Hendrix song to show off his guitar skills. He got a good reception from the 3,500-strong capacity crowd, all keen to get to the main event though.

As the small Quo crew set up the stage, the venue security made it very clear that we were all meant to sit down to enjoy the evening's performance. As the lights went down and the drone started at 9pm, a few of us remained standing but were quickly reprimanded with threats of ejection if we didn't comply. Thankfully, as soon as Richie started banging out those familiar opening chords of "Caroline", so many people stood up in the floor area around us that the masses won out and we got to enjoy the gig on our feet!

The band were in good form again and certainly fed off the strong Welsh voices accompanying every song. The setlist was the same as the Scarborough gig but for the welcome inclusion of "In My Chair". The treatment of this song was superb, paced perfectly and showcasing some awesome guitar work from Francis. His vocals and lead guitar were excellent throughout and his guitar sound (thanks to a new head amp) was spot on. The volume for Quo's set was significantly lower than for Laurence Jones', though, and lacked the "kick in the guts" bass that is so familiar to Quo fans.

All too soon, "Burning Bridges" as the sole encore song marked the end of Quo's performance in Swansea at a little after 10.30pm. The new venue provided a great home for them, with a sold-out & engaged crowd with solid acoustics.

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5th - Quo concert at Civic Hall at the Halls, Wolverhampton

Next stop on my SQ24 tour was Wolverhampton on 5th June. Lurking around the Civic Hall in the afternoon, we bumped into a few familiar faces and, although the venue has been subject to recent major renovations, it felt very familiar after having seen the Frantic Four there twice back in 2013.

Word on the street was that the Giffard Arms pub was the place to meet, so we headed there and enjoyed a great couple of hours catching up with many old friends. The vibe was great, despite the pub being a goth place (think black walls, black ceilings, tables shaped like coffins, you get the picture!), and it was awesome to catch up with Richie for a while when he popped in late in the afternoon. The fans enjoyed their opportunities to chat and take photos with the friendly Irishman.

Wandering back to the venue at about 7pm, there were no queues for entry and we were soon taking up our second row seats in the sold-out 2,500-capacity room. Support duties again fell to Laurence Jones and he delivered another incredibly loud 30-minute blues set, wrapping up at about 8.30pm. The Hall filled up nicely for his performance and he got a warm reception by the Quo contingent.

The Quo stage was set efficiently as always by Quo's increasingly small crew and the simple black and white colour palette looked fantastic, with Leon's drum kit taking centre stage. Quo appeared at 9pm and proceeded to play the same set as in Swansea, but they took it up a notch here. A few shows into the tour, things were starting to become more polished and Francis in particular seemed very pleased with how the gig went. The Wolverhampton audience were on their feet from the start and gave great feedback, especially of course during the big songs towards the end of the main set. It would have been nice to get "Paper Plane" in the encore given how well the set had gone, but it was "Burning Bridges" only before the band left the stage. Francis mentioned the need to clear immigration down at Dover at 6am the next morning, so no doubt the band were in a hurry to get going as their gigs in Europe loomed.

A decent review and professional photos from the Wolverhampton gig can be found here and there are some great pro shots here too.

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14th - Quo concert at Teatro Romano de Mérida, Mérida, Spain

Heading into Europe, my fourth gig on the SQ24 saw us travelling to the city of Mérida on 14th June. We chose this gig solely based on the venue, an amazing Roman theatre (dating back to 15BC!) that has been home to gigs for only the last nine years through the Stone & Music Festival.

It was very hot in this part of Spain and in the mid-high 30C's in the afternoon. The forecast suggested it would still be around 30C when the band were due to take the stage at 9.45pm (the gig had been brought forward by 30 minutes from its original start time).

The place was quiet in the afternoon thanks to the heat but we had a wander around and bumped into Leon doing the same. It was nice to chat for a few minutes before he headed off in search of food and then back to the hotel (the band enjoyed a few nights off the bus before this gig). Shortly after meeting Leon, we bumped into Richie. He stopped for a good chat too and said the band wouldn't be soundchecking until 8pm as the Roman theatre is open to general visitors until then. In a somewhat Spinal Tap moment, Richie joined me in buying a knock-off T-shirt by a local "entrepreneur" featuring a great design with the Roman theatre on it! The entrepreneur was shocked but excited to learn that the bloke in front of him was on the T-shirt and hence in the band, a nice photo opportunity he couldn't resist. Hats off to Richie for being so kind with the guy and also for chatting with us for so long.

Thanks to Richie's tip off, we knew that there would be an unveiling ceremony for Quo's plaque on the "Walk of Fame" for the Stone & Music festival at 6pm, just across from the main entrance to the Roman theatre. We got there early to secure a decent spot and it was clear that this was going to be a serious press and promo activity for the festival, with many video and still cameras set up. There was a big crowd (many in Quo T-shirts!) along the barriers by the time Quo wandered in right on 6pm, flanked by a ridiculous amount of security and police! The formalities were mainly in Spanish, but with some translation into Spanish afterwards. Francis gave a very brief "thank you" speech before the plaque was unveiled and the media frenzy really started! The band looked good with everyone in suitable attire for the weather, but for Francis who still wore his North Face jacket despite it being 35C! This was a great event, a nice bonus chance to see the band before the gig itself and, of course, good recognition of the band and their contribution to this festival.

After the dust settled on the Walk of Fame celebrations, we returned to the venue at about 7pm in readiness to go in as soon as the doors opened. Big queues formed and we were thankfully close to the front of one of them as it turned out we were queuing in the wrong place! We'd bought "Orchestra" tickets, the best available seats closest to the stage and hadn't realised that the entrance for "VIPs" was around the back of the venue (where we'd lurked earlier as the tour buses were parked there, albeit with the band not actually staying on them). Heading around to the right spot, we were soon into the venue and escorted to our "cocktail" reception as part of the ticket package. It was really just beer or soft drink, so we passed but enjoyed wandering around the gardens and Roman ruins outside the main theatre area until we were allowed in at about 9pm. The venue looked amazing, as we expected, and the backdrop to the stage was obviously going to make for great photos. Despite being in the Orchestra section, our seats were still a long way from the stage and it was made obvious that no standing in the vast area between us and the stage would be allowed - in fact, no standing was going to be allowed at all!

Although the start time had been brought forward by 30 minutes, much of the sold-out crowd of 3,000 arrived very late so the band still didn't come on until 10pm. It was still very warm (and remained so during their performance) but they didn't seem to mind - and sitting to watch a Quo gig outside in a T-shirt was a pleasant experience. The venue came into its own as it got darker and the stunning light show looked fantastic. The sheer size of the Roman ruins behind the stage dwarfed the band but it was a magical setting for a gig. There were no surprises with the main set, being the same as the last two UK gigs we saw on this tour, but Francis unfortunately battled with a sore throat almost from the start. As the gig went on, his voice became gradually worse, to the point where he was barely singing for the last few songs and he was no doubt very happy for the crowd to do most of the work during "Rockin' All Over The World" to round out the main set. Thankfully we were allowed to stand for the big songs towards the end.

Returning for the encore, it was a welcome change away from "Burning Bridges" to "Don't Waste My Time", which went down very well with this crowd. Francis nailed the guitar work even if he couldn't really sing the song! As the band bid their farewells, we were allowed down to just in front of the stage.

It's always hard to sit down for a Quo gig but watching the full light show from a distance in this case was no bad thing. The gig was a visual spectacle, a unique opportunity to see the band in such a historic location. There was a relatively low decibel limit too (so as not to shake the delicate Roman foundations too much, apparently!) so it was one of their quieter gigs, but the big crowd seemed to enjoy it nevertheless.

With just one gig left on our SQ24 tour (the next day in Madrid), we weren't very confident in it going ahead given Francis's throat issues...

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15th - Quo concert at Real Jardin Botánico Alfonso XIII, Madrid, Spain

The last of five SQ24 tour gigs for me saw us heading to Madrid on 15th June. Given Francis's throat issues at the previous night's gig in Mérida, cancellation wouldn't have been at all surprising but we made our four-hour train trip to the Spanish capital in the hope that the gig would go ahead.

It was another hot day as we made our way to the botanic gardens for the gig. Arriving there about 6.30pm, there was already quite a queue and we slotted in at the back of it. We spotted a Spanish fan we'd met briefly a few times in Mérida, at the "Walk of Fame" event, the gig itself and also at the train station - and he insisted we come over for a chat at the front of the queue. As he'd been second spot in the queue early in the afternoon, security had given him seven spots at the head of the line and he gave us two of them. This was an incredible act of kindness from someone we hardly knew and, obviously, we accepted his offer!

The doors opened officially at about 7.30pm and it was a fairly long walk (or run!) around to the entrance to the standing area, where we were forced to queue again. There were many fans in this area by the time the security officials decided we needed to reform into a queue, in single file! This was never going to work and a haphazard queue formed, thankfully we retained our spots towards the front, though lost a few places. By 8.30pm, the natives were getting restless and eventually the security decided it was time to let us in. What followed was one of the most dangerous and ineffective ways of getting a crowd into a venue that I've ever experienced, with a line of security people walking backwards into the standing area holding off the mass of fans, now strung out of course across the entire line of security. The security line broke as we got closer to the stage and it was every person for themself in the hope of securing a barrier spot. We did OK with a good spot in front of Rhino, but many who'd queued for a long time missed out and we're almost trampled in the rush. This was a badly managed approach to the queue, very surprising for a venue and festival that is experienced in hosting concerts.

Quo took the stage at 10pm and it was obvious right from the start that they were well up for it. Any doubts about Francis's vocals were dispelled during "Caroline", he was in fine form and had made an amazing recovery from the previous night's gig. He mentioned that they'd called a doctor and an ambulance turned up, but all they prescribed was honey and tea! It had done the trick anyway and maybe his sense of relief spurred him on to produce a cracker of a performance. The whole band played with such energy and fun, it was the most energetic and heavy performance I'd seen in a very long time. The extra little bits Francis insisted on adding, extending songs and generally having a ball, made this a very special show.

The sold-out crowd played their part too. A very vocal bunch of Spanish fans up front took it upon themselves to chant the riff from "Don't Think It Matters" during every break between songs, much to the delight of Richie and even Francis cracked a smile a few times. Leon played with more energy than I've ever seen before and the rhythm section generally was on fire. This was a heavy modern Quo performance and the main set (with the same setlist as previous gigs) ended all too soon, albeit with the final chorus of "Rockin' All Over The World" using the lyrics to the Marks & Spencers "Saving All Over The Store" version!

The encore was only one song again, in "Don't Waste My Time", but it was something special. The audience had a great night and the band clearly thoroughly enjoyed themselves on the warm night in Madrid, it was a ripper gig.

The kindness of a Spanish fan in helping us secure a barrier spot for this last gig on our SQ24 tour was remarkable, as was Quo's performance. Leon put this in his "Top 5" of gigs with the band and understandably so, it was outstanding. It was also an emotional one for me, with the rollercoaster of going from thinking it would be postponed to actually being one of the best gigs in years. There was also the realisation that this could turn out to be my last ever live Quo gig - if that's the case, it was an amazing way to bow out after 300+ gigs since 1986.

Revisit the June 2024 event list  

23rd - Francis interview in the Mirror (UK)

An interview with Francis appeared in the Mirror on 23rd June, strongly indicating that Quo won't tour again after the SQ24 tour.

The article, entitled "Status Quo's Francis Rossi admits 'I don't think we'll go again' in huge update" written by Tom Bryant, says "...when Status Quo rolls into Taunton, Somerset, over August bank holiday weekend, Francis Rossi expects the show there to be their last. "I don't think we will go again," he says. "And as far as the rest of the band are concerned it's the last tour too. I just can't see us doing it one more time.""

The interview can be read in full on the Mirror's website here.

Revisit the June 2024 event list