Fireworks

Suzi Quatro / David Essex / Bay City Rollers / Smokie Hot

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Written by Central Electronic Brain     April 15, 2019    
 
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Suzi Quatro / David Essex / Bay City Rollers / Smokie - Wembley Arena, London (UK) - 11 April 2019

Tonight Smokie kicked off proceedings. Each member has been in the band for at least twenty years but Terry Uttley is the elder statesmen, having been in the band since the sixties. Highlights were, of course, 'Do You Think You Know How To Love Me?' and 'Living Next Door To Alice' by which time the crowd were already shouting "Alice" at the end of each line and dancing and laughing to the lines about getting into Alice's pants!


Smokie London 2019 Live

So the Bay City Rollers hit the ground running. 'I Only Wanna Be With You' got things cooking very early on and 'Give A Little Love' not long after reinforced this as a delightful nostalgia trip with many ladies thinking back to love's young dream. Les McKeown is keenly aware of the poignancy of all of this, especially when giving tribute to dearly departed Alan Longmuir who started the band before reminding everyone of the Shang A Lang TV show that kept the band in hearts and minds when Top Of The Pops was not on our screens. McKeown still gets around on stage and his moves were still recognisable from those days and synchronised windmill arm twirling kept things lively. McKeown was the only original member on stage tonight, but he still took care to introduce the whole band. It seemed a blink of an eye before he was introducing 'Bye Bye Baby', the Four Seasons cover they kept at No 1 for nine weeks in 1975 before taking their leave. It was over too soon, but that's the secret of these Legend Live gigs, leaving you wanting more, but you could not be too sorry because of what was also coming up...


Bay City Rollers London 2019 Live

Namely David Essex, whose show had the air of a seasoned pro. He looked confident and cool even though he had the concentrated attention of thousands of ladies. His chirpy cockney character is still very much in evidence and he drew attention to his insistence on being just himself, despite being entertainment royalty, by belting out powerful operatic notes like Pavarotti, but then punctuating at the end of the line with a bit of 'Landan Town'. This was echoed by his smart gentleman's dress topped off with large folkloric opened lace work boots, just in case people thought he took himself too seriously.


David Essex London 2019 Live 2

But there was no doubt the crowd did, and after the reaction to a reference to being his wife in 'You And Me' he quickly quipped "I'll have to get a bigger house". Comedy moments aside, he did a wonderfully expressive version of 'Oh What A Circus' from Evita, before mixing things up with the funky mooching beat of 'Me And My Girl' and kicking his mike stand high showing the Rock star inside to be alive and well. Someone behind me shouted "Loving It! Respect! Mr Essex... Class!" And it wasn't long before Mr Essex was miming cruising on a Bonneville to 'Silver Dream Machine'. He teased the crowd by picking up his coat to leave, but they were not having that and roared till he relented with 'Gonna Make You A Star'.

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Suzi Quatro came on smiling and looking amazing in her black leather jumpsuit and bass that is always bigger than she is. She still kicks major ass and aimed for the stars with opener 'Wild One'. Shaking that famously trim bottom at the audience, she is still a poster girl for the strong desirable woman and she makes fronting a Rock band look easy; we can almost forget the immensity of all she achieved against the odds when women were supposed to be seen and not heard and she changed all of that. It was great to see her engaging with her backing singers and musicians, making it clear this is a team although she is, of course, very much the leader of the pack.


Suzi Quatro London 2019 Live 1

During 'She's In Love With You' she was stomping and shaking her all real luxurious mane. In these days when many guys complain about doing more than three shows in a row she is doing a least six in a row on this tour, and although she reminded the audience she is 68 it is very hard to believe. She looked 30 at most on stage. Making the point of her relevance today she played her latest single and told the audience about her son with whom she recorded it, before taking them though the lyrics at the start to make sure she took the audience with her. Having done that she took them down memory lane to 1973 and '48 Crash'.


Suzi Quatro London 2019 Live 2

She told the audience that the choker she was wearing (a leather band with a diamond pattern of studs) was the original one that she wore on TOTP that she kept all these years as a good luck charm. On top of all this her vocals were perfect and her distinctive timbre is just like all those years ago in 'If You Can't Give Me Love', another of her storytelling songs as she is also a poet and has been recognised by the University of Cambridge for her service to music. We then went hard into 'Rockin' In the Free World' with its big guitars and wall of sound. She did not miss the opportunity to get the audience involved with clapping, clicking and singing along. Looking every inch the Rock goddess with her fist in the air she cut a triumphant figure - she is still the little girl who could... and did (at just over five foot transfix an arena). The wildcat scream that she pioneered was still in evidence as she kicked as high as her shoulder in 'Can The Can'. Again, it was all over too soon with her most famous and defining song 'Devil Gate Drive' with not a seated person to be seen (There would have been a riot if she had not played it.)


Suzi Quatro London 2019 Live 3

Legends Live is a hugely entertaining night of nostalgia and, of course, there is that to Suzi, but she is also a massively relevant Rock star today and still producing great work. As such my hopes next time are for a headline tour with a Hard Rock line up and an emphasis on the here and now, of which she is still very much a part.

Review and photos by Dawn Osborne

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