Status Quo - Pictures: Live at Montreux' Hot

Added by James Gaden     February 17, 2010    
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Live show and documentary celebrating the legendary rockers 40 years in the business

It doesn’t matter who you are, everybody likes some Status Quo stuff. Loads of people have a pop at them, loads of people dismiss them, loads of people think they’re a ‘Dad’s band’... I did myself, until I was asked to review their remastered re-releases a few years back. I ended up getting twenty odd albums, which made me realise two things - there was a much bigger body of songs than the select ‘classics’ I grew up hearing, and they were a much better band than I gave them credit for.

Reviewing those albums got me into Quo in a big way, and I listened to them chronologically for a couple of months for those write ups. It was interesting to hear the hard rocking boogies become a bit poppier, adding Andy Bown on keys, losing John Coghlan from the ranks, Francis Rossi and Alan Lancaster falling out over ‘Marguerita Time’, the group breaking up, coming back, some dodgy 80’s albums, then writing some better stuff, the covers albums that some loved and others hated... up to the last batch of studio records, the last three I personally rate as three of their strongest records. But in that collection of albums, the live ones really stood out. I defy anyone to not tap their feet and enjoy Quo live - so what better way to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of their hit ‘Pictures Of Matchstick Men’ than with a live concert?

Filmed at the Montreux Jazz Festival in July of this year, the current (and in my view strongest and tightest) line up of Rossi, Parfitt, John ‘Rhino’ Edwards, Andy Bown and Matt Letley rip through a superb set list spanning as much of Quo’s highlights as it’s possible to do within a concert time frame. All the crowd pleasers are present, from the ubiquitous opener ‘Caroline’, ‘Roll Over Lay Down’, ‘Whatever You Want’ etc, to material from each of the afore mentioned last three studio records, represented with ‘Creepin’ Up On You’, ‘The Oriental’ and the excellent ‘Beginning Of The End’. A lot of those songs were present on the superb ‘Just Doin’ It’ DVD, but this one adds some of the oldies and lesser heard stuff from the Quo catalogue. One of my favourite Parfitt songs, ‘Don’t Drive My Car’ gets an airing, along with ‘Living On An Island’. ‘Is There A Better Way’ also makes a welcome appearance, as does ‘In My Chair’. Some real oldies are also played with enthusiasm and aplomb - ‘Pictures Of Matchstick Men’ is greeted with an approving roar, and it’s great to hear ‘Ice In The Sun’ and the pre-’Piledriver’ rocker ‘Mean Girl’.

In Quo’s recent shows, they’ve added some fantastic medleys to cram in as many songs as possible, and the marvellous ‘Proposing Medley’ is also present, which means you get ‘What You’re Proposing/Down The Dustpipe/Little Lady/Red Sky/Dear John/Big Fat Mama’ in one big, rocking chunk. It’s a great show performed with a feeling of fun - Rossi in particular is ad-libbing and grinning throughout. For my money there’s not a duff track in this set, and any Quo fan, long term or casual, would surely enjoy it. Behind the band, screens constantly show images from their career, and it’s as effective watching the DVD as it was being in the audience on this tour.

A real bonus is the second DVD offers a 100 minute documentary on the history of the band, featuring brand new interviews with Francis Rossi, Rick Parfitt, Andy Bown, ‘Rhino’ Edwards, Matt Letley, John Coghlan, Bob Young and current manager Simon Porter. Everyone is very honest and candid, from Rossi lamenting some of the eighties albums (“’Ain’t Companing’ was a dire record...”) to the tragic story of Parfitt speaking about his daughter Heidi’s death, and the band having opposing views on some of the publicity stunts like the Rock Till You Drop record breaker, or the ‘Under The Influence’ pub tour. There’s stacks of anecdotes - the one about watching porn in Germany is classic, and the story of the band having their own ‘nightclubs’ in their hotel rooms are highly amusing. The whole feature is very funny and beautifully edited with live and promo clips from the relevant periods to illustrate each chapter of the Quo journey as the men who were there talk you through it.

The deluxe version adds a slightly curtailed version of the concert to fit on a single audio CD, but if you aren’t sold already, that isn’t going to do it. A great concert, backed with a great documentary, from a British institution. Well worth getting.

James Gaden


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