Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Status Quo / Roy Wood's Rock and Roll Band: Glasgow SECC, Sunday 13 December 2009

To Glasgow on Sunday, to see Status Quo for the second time. But not just Quo, or even mainly Quo, great live performers though they are. This show had Roy Wood's current band as support, and they did not disappoint. Wood has been one of my musical heroes since the days of The Move: the thinking man's pop musician. Then there was Wizzard, then Electric Light Orchestra, then a solo career. Actually, solo work was always dear to RW's heart: his album Boulders was one of the first one-man-playing-everything efforts, before Jon Anderson or Mike Oldfield (who didn't play everything anyway). I loved it as a student, and I love it still.

On Sunday his band played a mixture of new songs and old songs, and it was scary to hear so many of the old ones introduced as having been number ones for Wizzard or the Move. Blackberry Way, Flowers In the Rain, Fire Brigade, See My Baby Jive, Angel Fingers: all sounding as good as ever, which I suppose just goes to show (a) what well-written songs they are and (b) how much they owe to the man himself in performance. Instantly recognisable with the trademark beard and long frizzy hair (and indeed the greatcoat), Wood has scarcely changed since he was a regular on Top of the Pops. (Though he's lost the make-up.) His voice certainly hasn't changed. He had the SECC audience eating out of his hand and bouncing delightedly through Blackberry Way, while See My Baby Jive had the whole place rocking.

Their finale, of course, was I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day. Strange to think that one never made number one (thanks to another rather well-known Christmas hit). Just as good as ever.

After the break, on came Status Quo. It's fashionable in some circles to look down on Quo, but they don't deserve it. Utterly without pretension, they have for a staggeringly long time pumped out well-constructed pop songs. They are perfectly happy to accept the mantle of three-chord wonders and even to play up to it (their last studio album was called In Search of the Fourth Chord), though a cursory listen to any of their albums or a visit to a live gig shows them to be in fact very competent performers. They keep on writing new material (this time they featured Beginning of the End from that last album, and maybe others), but have such a deep back catalogue that they can pull out infinitely varied setlists from it. Hilary was disappointed they didn't do whichever number it is where Parfitt and Rossi play two guitars, each with a hand apiece. On the other hand, this time they did Pictures of Matchstick Men and Ice In The Sun, neither of which I ever expected them to do live. (PoMM is approaching its 42nd birthday next month). They work as hard as any band I've ever seen, display enviable skill at connecting with their audience, and trust that audience. "This is the one where you have to sing the intro" said Rossi before they launched into Hold You Back: and we did. When they did Down Down, he just played the opening couple of chords then got the audience clapping - not with music, just clapping in time, secure in the knowledge that they'd get the tempo right and clap steadily. And that's quite a lot of trust in my experience of audiences' clapping skills.

So what else did they do? Down the Dustpipe, Caroline, The Oriental, Don't Drive My Car, In The Army Now, Whatever You Want, Rocking All Over The World, Paper Plane, Mean Girl, Living On An Island, Roll Over Lay Down, Something 'Bout You Baby I Like, What You're Proposing, Burning Bridges, a rock and roll medley, and a few others I've forgotten.

OK, so I went to see Roy Wood: but I stayed for Quo and knew I wouldn't regret it. I'd happily see either band again any time. And given how long Wood, Parfitt and Rossi have been around, I expect to have plenty more opportunities.

These guys really enjoy performing, even after all this time and however many thousands of iterations of their biggest hits. Look:


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