Status Quo, Birmingham 2022

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Another brilliant trip down memory lane

Birmingham: Symphony Hall – 06 March 2022

Despite seeing the mighty Status Quo countless times over the years, I had stopped going to see them live when I fell out of love with big arena concerts, probably around the early 2000's, so I hadn't seen them for quite some time; until I saw them as support to Lynyrd Skynyrd in 2019 and enjoyed the Hell out of them, so decided I would go and see them headlining again as soon as possible. Despite the Covid-induced three-year delay, here we go, rocking all over Birmingham's Symphony Hall. Indeed, Francis Rossi was impressed with the venue as it was the first time they had ever played there; "it's very posh" he admitted, "normally our agents book us into shitholes!" Rossi also admitted that rehearsals for the tour were the most difficult they had ever undertaken as they had never gone for so long without performing live, and they were wary of being under par; they weren't, and the set ran like a well-oiled machine.

The support wasn't the advertised Flawes (whom I'd never heard of) but instead The Laurence Jones Band who entertained with an impressive seven-song set of Blues Rock that was more than just a demonstration of Jones' quite brilliant six-string abilities. I didn't get any of the song names, but their set closed with a sizzling run-through of Jimi Hendrix's 'Purple Haze'. Jones announced they would be headlining in nearby Wolverhampton later in the year, and judging by the rapturous applause their set deserved I think it's a safe bet many of tonight's audience will turn out to see them again.

I've seen Quo start their sets off with numerous different songs over the years; 'Whatever You Want', 'Down Down', 'Paper Plane'... But for me, nothing works as well to open a Quo show as 'Caroline', and thankfully that's what we got tonight to start another brilliant trip down memory lane. With so many classics it's impossible to predict what they will play, but I have to admit on this tour they've pulled out some crackers. Four songs from the latest 'Backbone' album are aired; 'Backing Off' and 'Out Of My Head' together early in the set, and 'Cut Me Some Slack' and 'Liberty Lane' together later on - "It's what we call the "Help The Aged" sections", Rossi quips, "to give you time to go out for a pee..." 'Beginning Of The End' and 'The Oriental' are the only other more recent songs in the set, as the rest is classics all the way.

Yes, I do miss Rick Parfitt, but what we have now is a different yet perfectly acceptable Quo, as Richie Malone has stepped into his shoes perfectly; Parfitt was his idol and he emulates his parts so well, and even unintentionally moves like him. I don't subscribe to the idea that Rossi should have folded the band after Parfitt died; this is what Rossi has done for the best part of fifty years now, so why should he just stop? But what I really like about Status Quo now is how keyboardist/guitarist Andy Bown and bassist "Rhino" Edwards have really stepped up to the plate with their vocals and stage presence; it feels more like a band again than just the "Rossi and Parfitt show". Bown, Edwards and Malone all contribute lead vocals throughout the show, sharing between them the songs Parfitt sang, like 'Rain', 'Little Lady', 'Again & Again', 'Mystery Song' and 'Whatever You Want', obviously not as well as Parfitt did, but still good enough nevertheless; even drummer Leon Cave contributes a healthy portion of the backing vocals.

It's so great to hear the tracks like the lesser heard 'Softer Ride' and 'Hold You Back' again, and could there be a better run of songs to close a Quo set than 'In The Army Now', 'Roll Over Lay Down', 'Down Down', 'Whatever You Want' and 'Rockin' All Over The World'? The encore was all too brief, with just a blistering 'Paper Plane' to close the show. An arena tour will happen later in the year, but I hope Quo continue play smaller, theatre shows regularly, because I definitely won't leave it as long to see them again, because I like it, I like it, I la-la-la-like it...

Ant Heeks

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