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That was the Quo month that was ... November 2001



2nd - Quo concert at Bradford St Georges Hall

The following review comes from Anthony Troman.

To answer many queries - there IS a support act - a girl who sings on her own to backing tapes of drums and minimal instrumentation. Very unlike anything Quo have ever had before, very modern. I quite enjoyed it, though - give her a chance when you see her. Excellent voice!

On to Quo.

The sound at the venue was fairly poor to start with. Rick particularly suffered with his guitar low in the mix and his vocals almost inaudible. If this is intentional, it is a mistake! My personal view is that the drums should also be brought up in the mix, but this is a general comment rather than specific to this gig and has been the case for many years now.

The first point of note was the new songs ("Never Say Never" and "Solid Gold"). I was really looking forward to these on the back of Paxman production, the introduction of Matt (who I think is an excellent drummer) and the return of Bob Young (who is my favourite Quo collaborator). However, they were somewhat disappointing. Someone said of an earlier gig that the two new ones sounded under-rehearsed. I would agree with this. The band don't sound too confident either - Francis said that Rick didn't want to play them at all and Francis himself kept saying how he was nervous about playing them. He also suggested that he might forget the words (which he did in "Never Say Never"). The sound was particularly poor in "Never Say Never" where Francis' vocals were far too loud, especially as the chorus is mainly repetition.

The band got more into a groove with "Solid Gold", which has a pretty good feel to it.

The poor sound had such an effect during these performances that I will leave further judgement until I hear them again in a couple of weeks time. (Final judgement, of course, must wait until the album is released).

On that subject, Francis suggested in his talking that the album would be out in September. I hope I misheard this 'cos that seems an awful long time away. This would also suggest that Quo have a new record company deal - can we have some information on this on the website, please?

During the second half of the first set, the sound improved and the band really started to get into it with the highlight for me being "Big Fat Mama". This is the kind of 'balls-out rocker' that I would love to hear on the new album!

The encores were excellent.

All in all, not one of the best gigs from the boys, but after 1 hour 40 mins I was still wanting more and, when the sound was finally got right, they showed once again what a great band they are live.

Given how they finished, I would guess that the problems earlier in the set were caused primarily by the poor sound.

Finally, please don't have a go at me for being marginally critical. I am reporting it as I heard it - this report is in comparison to my extensive experience of Quo gigs - standards for Quo are set by their own massive reputation as a live band. This gig was better than the majority of gigs I go to see by other bands.

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17th - Quo concert at Manchester Apollo

The following review appeared in the Manchester Evening News.

It was the musical poser of the week. After cancelling three consecutive concert dates, would the mighty Quo be on form when they resumed their Never Say Never tour at the Apollo.

The interruption to the hectic schedule had been caused by veteran Rick Parfitt suffering repetitive strain injury and being advised to take a few days rest.

But their legion of fans had nothing to worry about. Repetition there was in plenty - but no suggestion of any strain. Parfitt's powerhouse rhythm guitar work was flawless as he leaped and cavorted through almost two hours of relentless rock'n'roll that should have tired a man half his age.

He accepted friendly jibes from frontman Francis Rossi, who joked at the outset: "It's OK, he's got another elbow and we're only playing the one chord all night."

Later on, his boisterous enthusiasm found him cringing with mock embarrassment when he wrongly launched into the raunchy opening vocals of "Rock 'n' Roll Music" to find nobody else on stage was backing him up.

Though admittedly not everyone's cup of tea, Quo are one of rock's most enduring outfits. From the opening bars of "Caroline", the Apollo was a seething mass of flailing arms as they thundered through classics including "The Wanderer", "Paper Plane", "Again and Again", and "Rockin' All Over the World".

Two new offerings, "Never Say Never" and "Solid Gold", from their next album, received a more muted response. But they're undoubtedly in the tried and tested Quo mould, and Rossi cracked: "We'll play them so often you'll have to love them."

One of their famous medleys including "Mystery Song", "Wild Side of Life" and "Rollin' Home" had the walls of the Apollo pulsing. And Quo went into top gear for an encore including "In the Army Now", Chuck Berry's "No Particular Place to Go" and Jerry Lee Lewis's "Great Balls of Fire".

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24th - Quo concert at Harrogate Centre

The following review comes from Anthony Troman.

PRE GIG

Myself, my wife and my little girl (Caroline, of course) got to the Harrogate International Centre for the Quo gig on Saturday night quite late (7:45pm) because I'd had the important business earlier in the day of watching Newcastle Utd rather luckily beat Derby County 1-0 to rise to joint top of the Premier League. I got home, slipped on the Quo t-shirt and denim shirt and we headed straight out to the gig, which was only 2 miles away.

I filled in two of the competition leaflets for the Rockers Rollin' boxed set and to meet the band, one in Caroline's name and one in mine, and popped them in separate entry bins. We decided to have a swift drink rather than watch Nicole Lacey (support act) as I'd seen her earlier in the tour. After the drink we took our seats to see Ms Lacey exiting the stage in what looked like a rather fetching leather outfit (damn!).

Then came the Rockers Rollin' draw. The second leaflet out of the first bin had my daughter Caroline's name on it. The third leaflet (this time from the second bin) was mine! This meant that between us we had 4 places of the 6 due to meet the band that night. As there were only 3 of us, a chap behind us asked if his son (12 years old, from 200 miles away, and sees Quo 3 or 4 times a year) could come with us. With qualifications like that, we agreed of course.

Great to meet the band just 5 minutes before they went on stage. They seemed in a really good mood and made everyone welcome. Rick, in particular, looks really good. The hair is longer, the weight is down and he looks really fit. He said his elbow doesn't bother him too much at the moment and, of course, he has no choice but to play. And we got our copies of the boxed set (I'll send a separate review!)

GIG

I sent a report to the mailing list on the Bradford gig being critical of the sound, not being sure of the two new songs and reserving judgement until later.

Now, Harrogate is a rich and very 'nice' town. The Conference Centre is a very plush arena with (for rock 'n' roll) seats which are too comfortable and too spaced. Not the best place for a band like Quo. Last year, only the first 5 or so rows stood through the gig with the rest eventually standing up towards the end of the first set and for the encore. That was Quo's first visit. This year they knew what to expect, and you all know how Quo like a challenge!

Well f*ck me if they didn't rise to the challenge!

This was rock Quo, not pop Quo. Right from the off, the sound was raw and heavy and the difference to the Bradford gig confirmed that the problem there would appear to have been the acoustics of the hall. The sound and the band really rocked in Harrogate. I mean, really rocked! Rossi was all over the stage moving around more than I've seen for the last 10 years or so.

You could see that they were determined to beat the crowd and get them on their feet. This time the first dozen rows and the wings were immediately on their feet, with the rest of the crowd joining us gradually until the vast majority were standing mid way through the first set. Quo 1 - Harrogate reserve and decorum 0.

I'm not one for listing set details but I'm pretty sure that it was the same as at the other gigs on the tour except that "Burning Bridges" wasn't there.

Musical highlights of the 1 hr 45 min set included "Big Fat Mama" (which is awesome at the moment), "Roll Over Lay Down" (with Rossi's solo getting better & better every time), "Down Down" (I love the shortened start and the dramatic crash into the song - far better than the long intro - and the band peeling away from the drum riser - real Quo) and "Rockin' All Over The World" (which finished the first set). The last 4 or 5 songs of the current set, if not over produced and with the current raw sound, would make almost as good a side 3 of a double live album as those on the 1977 Live album (yes, I do know how good that is!). Pardon me for the vinyl reference!

A special mention for the two new songs, "Never Say Never" and "Solid Gold". I wasn't sure about these at Bradford because of the sound. However, I was wrong. With the excellent sound at Harrogate, the musical references back to 70's Quo are obvious and I can understand the enthusiasm of others. I was shocked and extremely pleased at how raw the opening riff to "Never Say Never" is. I hope to hell that Paxo captures that sound (and given his track record so far, I'm sure he will).

And an even more special mention for Mr Matt Letley. Matt is technically the best drummer that Quo have ever had. His performance was excellent and his effect on the band is clearly noticeable. Spend a little time watching him when you see them next. With the greatest of respect to previous drummers, a great deal of credit for the change in Quo over the last couple of years goes to Matt. Very impressive. Well done for finding him, Rhino. Now, Mr Sound Man, just push him up a little on your mixing desk and we'll have a totally rocking Quo!

CURRENT ISSUES

I have read the "Rossi doesn't play the In The Army Now solo" with absolute amazement. Nevertheless, I watched the entire band closely during that song. THE STATEMENT IS ABSOLUTE HORSESHIT. Nothing during that song came from anywhere but the live band (including a number of mistakes). The solo was totally Rossi. I watched his fingers. Sorry, but whoever started this story is totally wrong. Are you a musician? Or were you in row ZZ when you spotted Quo 'miming'?

A number of people have complained that they are too polished. Not on this tour, matey! I have already said that the sound at Harrogate was raw. But also, they made mistakes with the lyrics (not really sure why people are asking for this). The solos were recognisable but with adventurous bits (see "Roll Over Lay Down" comments, above, in particular).

Rossi's banter was less rehearsed than for a long time.

In short, it was almost as if Quo had been reading the mailing list and they had addressed the issues brought up. I don't think that this is really the case, of course.

CONCLUSION

This was one of the most interesting Quo gigs I have ever been to (first was in '78!). They are most certainly heading back to the rock sound - both the set list and the sound confirms it. We may just be on the verge of a major Quo return to top rock form. Don't bottle it, guys - go for it! Look at the effect a rock Quo had on Harrogate. And make those f*cking critics eat their words!

Quo approaching top form (killer album next year, please). Meet the band and get given a free boxed set a week before release date. Newcastle Utd top of the Premier League. Life doesn't get much better than this!

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29th - Quo concert at Basingstoke Anvil Theatre

The following review comes from John Simpson.

I took a chance and went along to the Anvil thinking there might be a couple of touts, but there was none. So I hung around outside for a while thinking my chances of seeing the show were pretty slim, when a fan came outside and asked if anyone wanted a ticket. Needless to say I leapt at the chance. It was a standing ticket, he only wanted 20.00 for it and it made my day. So a HUGE THANK YOU to you if you are out there.

I thought the show was brilliant. Couple of fluffed lines here, but it was loud and sweaty which I reckon was down very much to the fact it was a small venue. The two new songs went down really well I thought and it was amazing how many people knew a lot of the words (even I managed to remember some of them). Francis seemed in great humour and Rick was looking a lot fitter than he has in years. Rhino was in good form too and it's great that he has a rapport with the crowd. Matt's drumming was ace - I'm no drummer but this man is a beast!! Paul must be the most laid back rocker in history - he always looks a little terrified but I still think he has done the biz filling in for Andy.

It's been discussed on here before about the band playing along with backing tapes, but I have to say that in "Rockin' All Over The World" the guitar bit where Frame turns his back seems to have been replaced by the keyboards (I watched this carefully and was 99.9% certain Paul was doing this bit) and then there is "In The Army Now" where it was clear in the past there were tapes, but from what I saw last night it was all Quo (the "Stand Up and Fight" bit was done by the crowd). Also was it a slightly shorter version of "Army" or was it my imagination??

One nice touch was at the end where Rhino made sure a girl at the front got one of Matt's drumsticks. I think she was just a kid and I just thought it was great that Rhino made sure she got a memento of the evening.

Can't wait for Guildford!!

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30th - Quo concert at Croydon Fairfield Hall

The following review comes from Andrew Larkin.

What a fantastic gig this was. Hot, sweaty, intimate. Everything a rock gig is all about. Three rows from the back but I had a perfect view. Below are the highlights of a truly exceptional gig.

Meeting Janet, Steve, Lorraine and Cammy The Morton Fan. Great seeing you guys and hoped you enjoyed the gig as much as I did. I tried to start "You'll Never Walk Alone" but was drowned out by "Quooooooooooo" and my voice had virtually gone by then!

Song of the night: "Paper Plane". WOW, this track is back and with a vengeance. Huge pop at the end of it and it completely blew my mind. Amazing!

Moment of the night: Francis starts talking and he says about hardcore tracks, etc. He then goes, this is one where we like to say "On Your Toes". I shouted incredibly loudly "Hold You Back" and everyone laughed. Mr.Rossi gave a look in my direction and said sort of muttering "This is Hold You Back".

"In The Army Now" - I watched VERY carefully. "Stand up and fight" is done by the crowd and the solo is NOT mimed in any shape or form. Either that or the backing track has changed quite a bit!

"Solid Gold" & "Never Say Never" - Received very well. "Solid Gold" MUST be released as a single. If it isn't that must mean the new album is the best! A few fluffed lines in "Never Say Never" but who honestly cared in the slightest!

The crowd - I was at the back with (mostly) oldies. When Quo came on I and a few others were only ones standing. More and more people stood up throughout and you can guess how it ended up. Everyone up and rocking. Incidentally I was two seats from the end of the row and after "The Wanderer" swapped which gave me lots more room to rock!

The injury list: Sore neck, not sure if I still have two shoulders. No ankles left, toes fine by the way! Oh yeah and my voice is non-existent! When came out of the gig my ears had been deafened! BRILLIANT!

The merchandise list:

I picked up a programme, a poster and a Francis guitar.

The gripes: N/A when seeing the greatest band of all time!

I did NOT miss "Backwater" which suprised me. I did miss "Burning Bridges" and "Junior's Wailing". Those 2 could EASILY be put in the encore.

The encore was brilliant. Not what I would have chosen in there but it's Quo, it's a gig and so it was fantastic!

"Big Fat Mama" rocked majorly! "Living Doll" is back. What a gig!

Roll on Brighton in 11 days time.

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undated - "The Best Air Guitar Album In The World ... Ever" released

Cover of Air Guitar CD

Backed by a TV advertisement (which may be viewed with Windows Media Player by clicking here) featuring Rick and Francis with Brian May, Virgin released "The Best Air Guitar Album In The World ... Ever". The double CD (with catalogue number VTDCD416) includes 41 tracks ideal for the air guitarist to indulge his craft, including "Whatever You Want" and "Down Down" from Quo. Other artists include Queen, Deep Purple, Dire Straits, Black Sabbath, The Who, and ZZ Top.

The booklet contains amusing guides to "How to hold you Air Guitar" and "Air Guitar Chords" for the serious axemen. The following foreword is given by Brian May:

"O.K., if you are a proficient Electric Axtual (sic) Guitarist already, it may seem superfluous to indulge in Air Guitar. Why Bother? But consider the purity of the form, the pure pleasure. Consider the practical advantages - no tuning problems - no "Turn down; the drummer can't hear himself", no needs for tedious practising of scales, and your Roadie doesn't piss and moan about his sore back, since the equiptment weighs nothing (actually you might now consider getting a roadie that's much better looking!). No falling out with the neighbours - and, though performances may differ, you always seem to have that perfect sound!

More to the point - anywhere, anytime, your Air Guitar is with you, ready to help you thrash out your frustrations, and make you a Mellower Person to live with. We recommend it especially to Traffic Police and the Politicians of all Nations. Who has not, in an unguarded moment, slipped into a Shape, and momentarily lived Life on the Edge, in the glow of the White-Hot Spotlight, centre stage in that huge virtual Stadium in the Sky!

Happy Vapour Trails - it's time to give this superb album an Airing."

The following message from Brian appeared on the Queen Online site on October 29th.

"Hi there Web-Grapplers - Brian here....

I'm so excited about the Air Guitar album we've been assembling. It was a huge amount of work, strangely enough, but it gave us an excuse to listen to dozens of the greatest Rock Tracks in history, in our search for the perfect tracklisting for Air Guitarists everywhere.

Just a few weeks ago we were talking about the Air Guitar craze. Someone from the Papers had just rung up our office for a quote from me on the news that Bohemian Rhapsody had been voted Number One Air Guitar track. I was quite chuffed that Tie your Mother Down was also in the list - TYMD has always hovered just outside the Greatest Hits domain (it got to number 31 in the charts when first released in this country, I seem to remember!) - so it makes me happy to see that it still has a life.

Anyway, I sent them a line saying I thought it would help Air Guitar to be recognised as a serious art-form, or something like that, we all had a laugh, and then we started to think about what it all meant. Fun, certainly, and something that people could have no pretentions about. Also a link to people's gut reactions to great guitar music - why else would they spontaneously spring to their feet and get physical with an invisible guitar? (We noted that WE all did it too, frequently!) And now there seemed to be another element - kids of all ages were beginning to be willing to go public with it - even to risk making a fool of themselves in Air Guitar Championships (well, I've been taking a similar risk myself for most of my life with a home made instrument!).

The clincher to us was that the tracks you are AIRING to must be the greatest REAL gut-wrenching guitar stuff ever. It was Pete who uttered the words, "Better make the Album, then, Brian". It was too interesting a challenge to turn away from. "What, nobody did that yet?" It seemed not. So we embarked on our wish list. We started with the tracks people had cited on various e-mail sites, then let our imaginations run wild, Pete and Justin and me, making up an ever-expanding compendium of stuff which made US want to get up and be foolish. Then we bounced our ideas off anyone we could find, friends, guitarists, our gardeners (huge Metal addicts!) and each other.

We got Jim, our illustrious Queen manager, to punt the idea to Virgin Records, who conveniently already had a line of compilations which they called "The Best (Whatever) Album in the World - EVER!", and - hoorah - they went for it. However from here on in it got sticky. Clearances had to be obtained. This is a sensitive and political area with record companies. To give away a track to another record company many executives feel they need compensation - since they are effectively foregoing their normal royalty rate for the track concerned in this situation. So horse-trading happens - "You can have Blah Blah if you give us "Killer Queen" for one of our compilations", etc. Sometimes people just don't want to play, so no deal can be done. So some of our wish list ended right there. Now also there is often reluctance elsewhere.

Many artists, or their managers, regard compilations as a no-no. The theory is, "Why allow anyone to get one of our tracks without buying one of our albums? - Doesn't this dilute our catalogue?". Queen were certainly one of the first groups to take this attitude in the early days. But then someone points out that 90% of the people who buy compilations almost certainly never heard of you anyway, and would never even consider buying your album. Unless, of course, they heard it on "The Greatest Spooning Album in the World - Ever!" or whatever. So after a while you start to look at things differently, as long as your track isn't going to be nestling with a whole load of stuff you REALLY despise! But this means Record companies are used to many big groups having a "No Compilations" policy, and it's a lot easier for many of them just to say "No, the artist doesn't approve" without even asking them. This was where I suddenly realised I am one of the most fortunate people in the world in that I know personally a lot of those greatest guitar players in the world. I don't really feel I deserve it, but there it is - it's been one of the great 'Perks' of my life. So, faced with a wall of "No Way's" on our wish list, I embarked on a journey of finding out what all those groups and guitarists really felt. It made me nervous, because there was always the feeling that I might be abusing a friendship, but on the other hand, it got me ringing up a number of great friends I hadn't talked to in ages.

That's when my Flu set in, and I suddenly realised I hadn't planned for my daughter's half term holiday. But, joy of joys - most of these great guys were totally into the concept - Pete Townshend was actually ahead of me, having already judged an Air Guitar contest. There were many hills to climb - whoever heard of a Jimi Hendrix track being on a compilation?? - but they his Estate were great too and, to cut a long story short, somehow we got there. It wasn't perfection - I had a couple of near-misses, but coonsidering this was our first attempt at this kind of thing - it's an UNBELIEVABLE list we got to in the end. Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi were brilliantly supportive from the off (they also featured heavily in the first published list of favourites) - and they were good enough to risk sending themselves up along with my good self for the TV ad. You'll be seeing that on your screens soon, hopefully - it's a laugh, and you can plainly see the fun we had shooting it!.

So - the GREATEST AIR GUITAR ALBUM in the WORLD - EVER! will be in your shops in a week so- well in time for filling your Kids' - or your Dad's!) Christmas stocking - or maybe you should just secretly nip down and get a copy for your own private use - being prepared and ahead of the game may be advisable in dealing with the Huge Wave (or Wind) of Air Guitar which will be sweeping the Nation this coming year! Karaoke will of course be knocked into a poor second place in the Party Games stakes.

Party On!!! And enjoy - among all the doom and gloom of war and bad weather, it's time we all had some good (clean?!) fun. Right? "

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undated - Review of "Rockers Rollin'" set in Classic Rock magazine

The November 2001 issue of "Classic Rock" magazine featured a review of the forthcoming "Rockers Rollin'" CD set. It scored 3 stars out of a possible 5, with the 70s material receiving favourable comments and the more recent material being panned. The reviewer suggests that it will be of interest to Quo completists - others should buy "12 Gold Bars".

In the same issue, there was a full page advertisement for the boxed set and the regular "Classic Riffs" feature was about "Down Down".

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