I was lucky enough to attend the first international fan club convention over the weekend of 2nd-4th October, run by Quo's official fan club, FTMO. Classic Rock magazine editor Mick Wall (who compered much of the event) wrote a review blog and the event was also covered in an article entitled "First ever Status Quo fan club convention rocks Minehead" here (with quotes from me, lifted directly from the convention programme introduction I penned for FTMO).
My review of the event follows, also written primarily for publication in the FTMO magazine.
"The fiftieth anniversary of the meeting of Francis and Rick at Butlin's in Minehead provided the inspiration, while the organisers provided the planning and hard work, resulting in the first international Quo fan club convention over the weekend of 2-4 October, 2015.
Fine weather greeted the Quo revellers as about 500 fans descended on Butlin's during the Friday, so the beer garden of the Sun & Moon pub became the unofficial meeting spot with many friendships being reacquainted and formed during the sunny afternoon. The event formally started at 4pm when "check-in" began and a long queue of expectant fans made their way into Reds, the large venue playing host to the convention for the next two days.
First to take the main stage, a little later than scheduled, was a Q&A session with Rhino hosted by Mick Wall, editor of Classic Rock magazine. This was a great opportunity for Rhino to take some of the limelight and interact with the fans, his good humour and openness being much appreciated. Immediately following the Q&A, Rhino was joined by current Quo drummer, Leon Cave, for a meet & greet session with "Gold" pass conventioners, so this was a good chance for autographs, a few words, and a professional photo with Rhino and Leon (who both stayed in good spirits throughout the long meet & greet session).
A short break in the formal proceedings gave people a chance to get refreshments before the evening's scheduled performances, but most were back in Reds quickly to see The Charge, featuring Rhino's daughter Mae on drums (performing her first public gig) and sons Max & Freddie. Following The Charge, State of Quo took the stage ("easily the best Quo tribute act going" according to Mick Wall) and they gave the audience exactly what they wanted during their hour-long set of Quo classics, including such gems as "Mad About The Boy" that Quo themselves of course will no longer offer their live audience.
The final act of the first day was Rhino's Revenge and an excellent set - formed from material from Revenge 1 and 2 plus some Quo songs (Bellavista Man, Bad News, and Gravy Train) - saw fans rocking on past 11pm. It was fantastic to see Leon joining the band for two songs that he has never played live with Quo themselves (Bad News and Gravy Train). The night closed in style when John Coghlan took the drum stool along with the State of Quo guys to join the Revenge band for a rousing rendition of fan-favourite, Paper Plane.
The convention schedule for Saturday suggested a packed day, not that anyone was complaining about that! Early birds could enjoy the rather splendid Quo exhibition from 10am to midday - the exhibition was well laid out and organized by decade, with many interesting and rare pieces on display. The exhibition generated a lot of interest and made many of us wonder why there isn't a permanent high-quality Quo exhibition somewhere in the UK for everyone to enjoy.
The main event kicked off in Reds again just after midday when Bob Young took the stage with Paul Bruns for "The Bob Young Story". This was an engaging and fascinating hour in the company of Bob, sharing his life stories and tales on the road with Quo. The packed house could have listened to him all day, but the schedule meant we only got one hour. The obvious rapport between Paul and Bob made the presentation feel more like a conversation and Bob came across very well during this session.
Next up was a Q&A session with John Coghlan, a slightly shorter session than Bob's but nevertheless very interesting - and he skirted around the obvious question about more Frantic Four shows! Immediately following the Q&A, it was time for "Gold" ticket holders to enjoy their meet & greet with John and Bob, which involved a signing session first and then a professional photo with both of them. They were both generous with their time with the fans and this was a wonderful opportunity to meet two of the greats from Quo's history.
After a short break, there was a chance to exercise those Quo brain cells with a Quo Quiz, penned and presented by FTMO's very own Jason Hodgson. This was a tough quiz - and your roving reporter failed to make a dent on the winning places.
It would be live music all the way for the rest of the day with excellent Quo tribute band, Stated Quo, taking the main stage at about 5.30pm. As always, they played a varied set including rarely-heard Quo classics (such as "Don't Stop Me Now" and "High Flyer"), a few songs with ever-popular Jackie Lynton, and closing out with the raucous Slade number, "Get Down and Get With It". The band were very well-received and Reds was pumping throughout their well-played set.
The next hour was given over to the Thin Lizzy tribute band, Black Rose. It was an interesting choice to include a non-Quo band in the live mix, seeing some of us taking a break from Reds to catch up with friends or grab a bite to eat, but the Reds floor was still busy with many fans staying to enjoy the Lizzy tunes.
Following Black Rose, it was Mick Wall's turn back on the stage to run the first of two guitar auctions, this being for Rick's guitar from the "Bula Quo" movie. With initial estimates of around 600 pounds, the bidding started slowly but a bidding war between two keen interests saw the hammer fall at a truly astonishing 7850 pounds!
During the auction, the next Quo tribute band had plenty of time to set up and Scotland's Status Quoing hit the stage at about 8pm. It was again classics all the way, including "Shady Lady" and "Daughter", and their decision to devote a good chunk of their stage time to "Forty Five Hundred Times" turned out to be a very wise one, with an amazing audience response. They closed out their set with a tribute to Shona (on the occasion of her 21st birthday) in the shape of her favourite Quo song, "Burning Bridges". An excellent performance and stunning guitar work from young Jay as always.
It was with much anticipation that the second guitar auction started after Status Quoing left the stage. It was again an astonishing result, with Francis's guitar being snapped up by the losing bidder on Rick's guitar, for 3600 pounds! A well-attended and good natured air guitar competition (to the tune of "Something 'Bout You Baby I Like") filled in the time before the final live act, John Coghlan's Quo.
The groove created by this band was a delight, enabled by the unique Coghlan drumming and their pared back style of playing the Quo classics. A surprise inclusion was "Rockin' All Over The World", made all the more surprising by the keyboard intro being performed by convention promoter, young Aidan Johnson! As the band closed their set after a rousing "Roadhouse Blues" (with Bob on harmonica of course), a finale with Yvonne & Paul Hanvey, Aidan Johnson, Bob Young, Lloyd Gilbert (Quo's current stage manager and general good egg helping out all weekend) and many others finished things off in style!
Although the convention was officially over, many fans also spent Sunday in the Butlin's complex. It was a quiet and late start for many after the bumper Quo Saturday and the Sun & Moon pub again became an unofficial meeting hub, while hard work continued in the background with the exhibition packing up and moving out of the Reds venue. A hardy group of fans saw out the day in the pub, with an impromptu acoustic guitar session giving one last chance to belt out Quo songs amongst friends new and old.
The first international fan club convention was a triumph and the suggestion of its repetition in two years' time is a great one - the coming together of so many fans in one place to enjoy Quo music, share stories, and meet new Quo friends is a magical thing - and FTMO are to be commended for their amazing job in pulling the event together with such success. See you in 2017 then!"
Rhino kicked off a mini-tour of the UK with Rhino's Revenge in Bury St Edmunds on 20th October supporting Hayseed Dixie. The tour was timed to coincide with the release of "Rhino's Revenge 2" on 23rd October.Revisit the October 2015 event list
Rick appeared on BBC1's popular The One Show on 23rd October. He underwent a hair treatment in an attempt to recreate a mid-1970s look and it worked out pretty well! Rick looked well and was in good humour throughout the segment, which also included various video clips of Quo through the ages. A clip of Rick's appearance can be seen here.Revisit the October 2015 event list
Just 15 years after the bandís debut album was released by Eagle Records, "Rhino's Revenge 2" was released on 23rd October. The 12-track album was produced by Mike Paxman and officially launched with a sold out gig at London's iconic 100 Club in March 2015. A couple of tracks are available for free from Soundcloud here.Revisit the October 2015 event list