It was a long trip from Melbourne to Portlaoise to attend the 10th QuoFest, but thankfully it was an awesome experience!
The Saturday afternoon saw Quo fans gathering outside Kavanagh's to bask in the glorious warm sunshine with the Quo music blasting out for the whole town to enjoy. It was great to catch up with friends there as well as making some new ones, the warm Irish welcome and great craic were both in evidence all day.
Saturday evening's entertainment kicked off with The Matchstick Men, an Irish Quo tribute who banged out an impressive set drawn from all parts of Quo's long back catalogue. The packed house gave them plenty of encouragement and this was a strong performance. It was then the turn of Rhino to take the stage as a three-piece version of Rhino's Revenge, with late replacement guitarist Russell Taylor joining Richard Newman (of Paul Rodgers' band). Russell did an incredible job considering he was drafted in at very short notice (on recommendation from Richie) following Craig Joiner's heart attack - he played confidently and accurately throughout, great work. Later in the set, Richie Malone joined the band and had a great time working alongside Rhino and rocking out the popular Quo tunes as part of the RR set. "Two Way Traffic" was a highlight of this part of the set for me. A very enjoyable performance and nice to see Rhino and Richie performing together outside of Quo. The late night finish at Kavanagh's was just the start for many who joined Rhino and Richie back in our hotel (The Midlands, where Quo have themselves played!) until the sun came up on Sunday morning...
It was a more subdued Sunday afternoon session around Kavanagh's but a decent crowd of Quo fans gathered to party on once more and, by the time the official "doors open" arrived, the bar was rammed. Kicking off a little later than scheduled, we were "treated" to Southern Feud who screamed at us for an hour before The Matchstick Men took over at 10.30pm. They played an almost completely different set than the night before and gave us two hours of fine entertainment, again drawing from Quo's back catalogue in impressive style - from the late 60s with "The Price of Love" to more recent material such as "The Oriental". If anything, they played better and received a better reception on this second night, even with a slightly smaller crowd, another top notch performance from this impressive Irish tribute.
Thanks to Colm for organizing the event again and for bringing the Quo fans together for a great weekend. We had a fantastic time in the company of good friends enjoying Quo music, nuff said.Revisit the May 2018 event list
Quo opened their public gig account for 2018 by headlining the opening night of the three-day Ribs & Blues Festival in the Netherlands on 9th May. This free festival attracts a crowd of over 50,000 across the three-day weekend and there were plenty of Quo fans to welcome the band to their live work for the year. A YouTube clip of "Caroline" opening this gig can be seen here.Revisit the May 2018 event list
The first gig of the mini-tour of the Canary Islands saw Quo hitting the Pabellón de Deportes Santiago Martín in Santa Cruz on Friday 25th May. This circular basketball stadium lies a few kilometres from the city centre and was capable of holding around 5500 fans. The promotion for the gig was very strong, we saw posters, huge billboards on major roads and even a tram adorned with a huge ad.
Doors opened later than advertised at 7.30 and it was up to local support act, Therapy Break, to kick things off. They played for about 50 minutes, sadly to an almost empty hall for most of their set. They played a good mix of rock covers and at least received a good send off as the fans started coming in late in their effort.
Quo took the stage at about 9.10 to a pretty scarce crowd, at best 2000 formed of our "premium" seated area up front plus a standing floor area behind and then raked seating (all but the very lowest level of which remained empty throughout). We hung on the barrier and stayed put as the gig started, but three songs on we were marched back to our seats where we had to remain seated until the very late stages of the gig, sadly dampening what bit of atmosphere there was down the front.
It took a really long time for the crowd to warm up, the first 40mins or so were very quiet and Francis appeared to be losing interest given some of his comments between songs. Thankfully the more well known songs got the audience more involved and they actually got right into it and pretty loud, so it was good to see some better response as the gig went on. I enjoyed the new set very much, the small changes have made a big difference. Richie did a fine job of vocals on both "Mystery Song" and "Big Fat Mama" and Francis's solos were excellent, especially on "Backwater" and "Roll Over Lay Down". The band were tight for just their second show of the year. After "Paper Plane" in the encore, "Bye Bye Johnny" has been given a different twist, made for an interesting change to this late part of the set. The band left to a great reception and singing of "ole ole ole" so it all worked out in the end.
This was a weird gig, very different to any other Quo gig in my c.300 gig career. It was good to see them on different soil and with a very different audience and Quo won them over eventually (as they always seem to do!). Chatting with Richie on the ferry over to Gran Canaria, he said they band had a lot of fun on stage and it certainly looked like they did, it just took a while for the crowd to get into it.
The "local El Dia" newspaper on Saturday morning featured a nice colour front page photo of Francis and a short gig review inside with further small (black and white) photos.
The announcement of Francis's 2019 speaking tour across the UK came on 25th May, via this press release.
Francis Rossi - 'I Talk Too Much' - Speaking Tour
Legendary Status Quo lead singer Francis Rossi will share the extraordinary secrets of his 50-plus years in rock 'n' roll when he takes to the stage for an intimate evening at 31 theatres.
Rossi will talk about his mishaps and adventures as he opens up about the highs and lows of a life on the road with one of the biggest and most loved bands ever when he features in Francis Rossi: I Talk Too Much. The tour starts on March 27th 2019 and ends on May 20th 2019.
Tickets are available, priced £25 and £32.50 for VIPs, who get seats in the front rows, a 10x8 photograph and an exclusive VIP lanyard.
And in I Talk Too Much, Francis will share some of the best rock 'n' roll stories ever, accrued during an extraordinary life on the road. Expect laughter, revelations, tales involving some of the giants of music, exclusive video clips, snatches of classic tunes and a great night out. Rossi will be joined on stage by award-winning writer and broadcaster Mick Wall, who has sold more than 1 million books.
Rossi said: "This show is something new for me. I’ll be looking back at some of the unbelievable things that have happened during my career. It’ll be good to get on the road once again and to do these shows. It will be live and unscripted, so god knows what could happen! One thing's for sure though, it'll be a white-knuckle ride for me, but fans will get a real unvarnished insight into what's happened over the years.
"I'll be taking a guitar along to demonstrate how some of those Quo classics came into being, and hopefully we'll take a few questions from the audience too. It's been quite a ride, there’s a lot to share – I just hope I don’t talk too much."
The second gig of the mini-tour of the Canary Islands saw Quo playing the Gran Canaria Arena in Las Palmas on Saturday 26th May. The impressive arena sits next to the large football stadium and is a modernist piece of architecture with a nice open seating area out the front, perfect for enjoying some Spring Canarian sunshine before the doors opened right on 7pm.
We noticed some promo around the city (but not to the same extent as in Tenerife), which was good to see as the arena claims a capacity of almost 10,000! The support band were a Tenerife outfit by the name of "Ni 1 Pelo de Tonto" and they did a really good job of warming up the audience. They played to a very sparse room for the first few songs but, by the end of their 45-minutes or so, they had a good crowd on their feet enjoying the show. They mainly sang in Spanish but the energetic lead singer occasionally dropped in some English comments and they went down really well. Both support bands in the Canaries were high quality actually. Due to their later start, it would be almost 9.30 before Quo took the stage.
The drone started with the full house lights still on and it was clear from the start that this was going to be a very different crowd. All the front standing area got up immediately and some of us headed to the barrier - without any interruption from security this time! (I say "barrier" but it was actually just poles and ropes between them, so even more surprising they let us stay up there) By the time Quo appeared, the venue was buzzing and I'd guess the crowd at 3000-4000 (the top sections were curtained off but the raked seating was much more populated than in Tenerife and the standing area was also much more crowded).
There were no changes in the set, but the vibe was completely different and the band definitely fed off the more involved audience here, with Francis being much more chipper between songs. The whole band seemed to have a ball - Francis's solos remained excellent, Richie's vocals get better each night, and Leon, Andy and Rhino all played well too. This was a ripper gig, great audience, sensible security and the band feeding off the amazing reception.
It was great to see such obvious promotion of the band across the two Canary Islands and the decent crowds they pulled in for both of the shows. Thanks to a promoter for taking a chance on bringing the band to that part of the world, with two solid support acts as well. This will probably be the one and only time Quo play on the Canary Islands so it was awesome to be part of it - from the strange Tenerife gig to the ripper Gran Canaria show!
The official Arena Twitter feed had a couple of good professional photos posted after the gig and a sample of my photos follows.