The NEC has been made a little smaller with the back blocks curtained off, but the remainder of the seats are filled for a musical form of pre-Christmas panto. Tonight’s support is local legend Roy Wood, a cross between Ozzy Osbourne and Billy Connolly. He’s supported by a band that includes a four piece brass section, and also a very lovely backing singer who hands Roy a drink when he requires it. He says at one stage that he can’t even see the set-list so perhaps he can’t see his drink or perhaps it’s a problem joint somewhere?
Anyway, it soon becomes apparent what a talented songwriter he is as he plays various tracks from his back-catalogue including Wizard and Move songs and nearly everyone is introduced as “this is a song I wrote that was number one for…..”
He is a great support, but whether it’s the time of year, or I’m too much a Victor Meldrew he ends a forty minute set with that dreadful Christmas song, but the rest of the crowd are all up on their feet and swaying as if the snow were falling right on their greying heads. Roy Wood is brilliant and he’s due to play Bilston soon which will be a great night out.
While the stage is cleared I check out the merchandise which is the usual array of t-shirts for the usual prices (£20) but the “Got any Quo” is a classic, but sadly it’s in an awful colour and doesn’t seem to be selling. At quarter to nine the Quo take to the stage, opening typically with ‘Caroline’ and then going through a typical set-list. Status Quo are similar to a can of beans, in that you know exactly what you’re going to get, you can work out what tracks they will play and that the audience will have a section of die-hards playing air guitar. Each to their own but the site of portly men in their late fifties head banging and playing air-guitar shows they’re having a great time but it’s kind of sad too, especially for the poor folks around them who must be praying they break an air-string and have to go away somewhere else to replace it.
Some previous dates have been cancelled due to Rossi having a bout of bronchitis, and this may account for a run of songs being led by Parfitt, who looks exactly the same as he did back in the seventies. Considering he’s had previous heart surgery he looks very fit for his age. Being a fan in the classic line-up days, ‘Dog of Two Head’ was the first album I ever bought and we are treated early on with ‘Mean Girl’. Rossi tells us he’s recently been unwell but is pleased to be back in “the best venue in the country”. I did wonder if he realised he was at the NEC, or perhaps the antibiotics have affected his memory. Since the re-vamp the seats are more comfy but I think calling it the best venue is stretching things a lot.
All the Quo are wearing regulation white trainers, and they cover most of the stage, ensuring they stand for solos in the stage corners so their devoted can get pictures and mobile recordings. The stage is a simple affair but the back-drop has five large screens which show the most awful designs, or as some may call them abstract art. During ‘The beginning of the end’ the screens shows snippets from the video, showing Quo in one of the pods on the London eye, but rather than just playing throughout the snippets seem to be on rotation which doesn’t make much sense. Even more frustrating is that the images of the band that are shown from time to time aren’t actually live but old images. Personally I find this a cheat and can’t really see the point. I thought the whole idea of big screens is to let the poor souls at the back see some of the stage action, but if this isn’t to be the case then I do have to question the point of using them.
‘What you’re proposin’ is followed by a great medley of ‘Down the dustpipe’, ‘Little Lady’ ‘Red Sky’ ‘Dear John’ before a blistering ‘Big Fat Mama’.
The set ends with ‘Roll over Lay Down’ and ‘Down Down’ (cue more air-guitar with head banging) and finally ‘Whatever You Want’ which sees the side-seats finally rise to their feet. ‘Rockin all over the world’ seals the set.
The three song encore (Paper Plane, Junior’s Wailing, Rock ‘n’ Roll Music/Bye Bye Johnny) ensure that the faithful go home happy, until next year when it all happens again. Status Quo are good value for money, and you will have a great night.
One final point to mention was the excellent seat, Birmingham Live and the Promoter coming up trumps again, sadly though I had the most irritating individual next to me, who jumped and clapped throughout, even during the quiet part of ‘Living on an island’. I’m not sure if he was on something, or had missed his medication but when you actually bounce in your seat due to someone jumping, well you get my drift. Thankfully there was an empty seat right next to me but this only seemed to give him licence to jump even more.
Despite this it was a great night.
Something ’bout You Baby I Like
Don’t Drive My Car
Beginning Of The End
Hold You Back
What You’re Proposing / Down The Dustpipe / Little Lady / Red Sky / Dear John
Big Fat Mama
Pictures Of Matchstick Men
Ice In The Sun
Creepin’ Up On You
Living On An Island
In The Army Now
Roll Over Lay Down
Whatever You Want
Rockin’ All Over The World
Rock ‘n’ Roll Music / Bye Bye Johnny
Review – Glenn Raybone
Photos – Adam Emery