Tag Archives: John “Rhino” Edwards

The Last Night Of The Electrics

Rick Parfitt

When I addressed the last – to date – studio album by legendary rock band Status Quo, 2016’s “Aquostic II – That’s A Fact!” and, more recently, shared my thoughts on the passing of the late, great Rick Parfitt, I noted that I wasn’t sure where the band would go in the wake of the band’s decision to go unplugged in future and after Parfitt’s decision last year to depart the band.

Well, here is perhaps the first indication. “The Last Night Of The Electrics” is a live album from the group, recorded at the O2 Arena in London last December – almost two months subsequent to Parfitt leaving the band but prior to his death. It’s been billed as an “emotionally charged set” though I’m not sure why that would be true of this particular gig? One could perhaps speculate that it’s a subtle way of pulling at the emotions around Parfitt’s passing, or is that just the cynic in me?

Status Quo – Live!

Regardless, this album is only the seventh live album, by my reckoning, in the band’s long history. 1977’s double “Live!” will for many be forever the benchmark by which any Quo live release should be judged. It’s certainly head and shoulders above the average “Live Alive Quo” (1992) and the more recent “Aquostic! Live At The Roundhouse” but for my money “Live At The N.E.C.” (1982) is also a cracking show – particularly if you can find the whole radio-transmitted performance rather than the edited LP. I guess, ultimately, the relative scarcity of Quo live releases is at least in part indicative of the static nature of the huge majority of their setlists over the years. Sound-wise, “The Last Night Of The Electrics” isn’t bad, but isn’t great either. The sound is a bit muddy to my ears and there are definite issues as a result of Parfitt’s absence.

Richie Malone

The set kicks of, as is the norm, with “Caroline” and it must be said that young guitarist Richie Malone does a creditable job on pulling off Parfitt’s tremendous rhythm parts. The hole left by Parfitt becomes much more obvious when his lead and co-lead vocal parts need covering. Parfitt himself struggled vocally at times in recent years during live show, but here bassist John “Rhino” Edwards takes some of these parts and, I’m afraid, doesn’t really do the job justice.

Francis Rossi, Richie Malone & John “Rhino” Edwards

Hearing songs like “Caroline” or “Something ‘Bout You Baby I Like” with Edwards singing with Francis Rossi, or even keyboardist Andrew Bown filling in for Parfitt on “Whatever You Want” or “The Wanderer”, when you’ve had decades of hearing the brilliant combination of Rossi and Parfitt – well it’s not quite like listening to a tribute band but it feels odd nonetheless. Sadly, it’s worse when Edwards takes lead on “Rain” and “Creepin’ Up On You”…

Andrew Bown & John “Rhino” Edwards

For some reason all of Rossi’s between song banter has been removed from the recording. Time limitations? A set lasting less than 95 minutes on a double CD (space for 140+ minutes) suggests not. Reviews of the show in question report that no mention was made of the missing rhythm guitarist so maybe that has something to do with it, I don’t know. On that front, though, Rossi changing the long-standing “…can’t escape this Ricky in my ears…” in “Burning Bridges” to instead sing “…can’t escape this paddy in my ears…” (Malone is Irish) seems a bit insensitive, I would have thought it would have been better to return to the song’s original “ringing” lyric.

Leon Cave

Rossi himself struggles vocally at times throughout this show, but guitar-wise is as on-the-money as you would expect. Elsewhere, drummer Leon Cave is solid but unremarkable and his drum solo would have been better cut out along with Rossi’s banter, to be honest. Of the set, you know what you’re going to get but even the “Heavy Traffic” songs have been played to death in the same order for years now, and “Gerdundula”, always a favourite of mine, now seems over-extended and is sounding tired.

Since the album was recorded and scheduled for release the band have announced that the “Last Night…” tour – supposed to be their final electric tour would now not be, with 2017’s winter tour, previously branded as “Aquostic Live – It Rocks!” (and, let’s be honest, as entertaining as the acoustic stuff is, it most definitely does not rock) will now be an electric affair under the title “Plugged In – Live And Rockin'”. With the “blame” for the turn to acoustic shows now being laid at Parfitt’s door – health issues apparently, though the man himself said he wasn’t interested in doing the acoustic thing – does this mean that future tours, if there are to be any, will also be electric?

Status Quo

This probably all sounds very negative, and I really don’t mean to be. I love Quo, and have done for many years, but this one doesn’t really excite me I’m afraid. I think that if the band are to continue without losing too many supporters then the new line-up needs to get into a recording studio and come up with a new album to promote and need to change the setlist to remove the songs that relied heavily on Parfitt’s voice – they have more than enough hits and album tracks to replace them with…

“The Last Night Of The Electrics” tracklist:

1. Caroline / 2. The Wanderer / 3. Something ‘Bout You Baby I Like / 4. Rain / 5. Softer Ride / 6. Beginning Of The End / 7. Hold You Back / 8. Medley : a. What You’re Proposin’ / b. Down The Dustpipe / c. Wild Side Of Life / d. Railroad / e. Again And Again / 9. The Oriental / 10. Creepin’ Up On You / 11. Gerdundula / 12. In The Army Now / 13. The Caveman (Drum Solo) / 14. Roll Over Lay Down / 15. Down Down / 16. Whatever You Want / 17. Rocking All Over The World / 18. Burning Bridges / 19. Rock ‘N’ Roll Music / Bye Bye Johnny

1, 5 and 14 originally from “Hello!” (1973) / 2 originally a single release (1984) / 3 originally from “Never Too Late” (1981) / 4 originally from “Blue For You” (1976) / 6 originally from “In Search Of The Fourth Chord”(2007) / 7 and 17 originally from “Rockin’ All Over The World” (1977) / 8a originally from “Just Supposin’” (1980) / 8b originally a single release (1970) / 8c originally a single release (1976) / 8d originally from “Dog Of Two Head” (1971) / 8e originally from “If You Can’t Stand The Heat…” (1978) / 9 and 10 originally from “Heavy Traffic” (2002) / 15 and 19b originally from “On The Level” (1975) / 16 originally from “Whatever You Want” (1979) / 18 originally from “Ain’t Complaining” (1988) / 19a cover of Chuck Berry single (1957)

Rick Parfitt 1948 – 2016

rick_parfitt_of_status_quo_forced_to_abandon_european_tour_music_scene_irelandA week ago today I was enjoying a Christmas Eve meal with the in-laws when the awful news came through – Status Quo man Rick Parfitt had died. More than any high-profile musician to pass away in the previous twelve months – whether it be Lemmy, David Bowie, Prince, etc. etc. this one affected me.

Francis Rossi & Rick Parfitt On Stage In 2015
Francis Rossi & Rick Parfitt On Stage In 2015

I knew I was going to have to make some comment on his passing – but what to say to begin to do the justice to man and his contribution to music? There were some lovely words on various news sites etc. following Rick’s death but he was quickly replaced there when George Michael passed away the very next day.

Rick Parfitt
Rick Parfitt

No disrespect to George Michael, who was a great singer, but for me the amount of coverage that he was given vs. Rick seemed to suggest that he was by far the more significant and iconic figure. And maybe to many he was, whilst perhaps it was also reflective of how often Quo have been derided in the press as three chord wonders etc.

Anyway, I suspect that my family may have grown a little tired of the sound of Quo blasting from my speakers over the past week as I’ve paid tribute to Rick and the boys through the stereo and reacquainted myself with much of their music that had slipped from the kind of regular rotation that it used to enjoy.

Status Quo Live In 1981
Status Quo Live In 1981

Quo were my first love as a band, way back in 1981, and have been right up there ever since. Having received the brand new “Never Too Late” album as an Easter present that year, I obtained their entire album back catalogue as quickly as I was able to and have followed the band through all the highs and lows ever since.

Status Quo Live In 1984
Status Quo Live In 1984

In the summer of 1984 I went to see the band live for the first time on their “End Of The Road” tour. At the time I thought it would be my one and only opportunity to witness them play, as the tour was billed as a farewell to the road. And contrary to the jibes aimed at the band, until this year’s “Last Night Of The Electrics” final electric tour before a switch to acoustic touring, that has been their one and only “farewell” tour!. Luckily for me, and many thousands of others, a re-grouping in 1986 meant the return of the band on record and on stage.

Rick Parfitt On Stage In 2007
Rick Parfitt On Stage In 2007

Since then I’ve enjoyed a further fourteen Quo shows, including my wife’s first ever rock concert on the “In Search Of The Fourth Chord” tour. Nothing compared to a great many regular gig goers I’m sure, and I have to confess that my enthusiasm waned at times for their concerts as the set list remained pretty static for long periods of time. Nonetheless, every single show that I went to was well worth the time and money as the band never failed to give anything but a top-class performance.

Roy Lynes, Alan Lancaster, John Coghlan, Rick Parfitt & Francis Rossi In Late 1960s
Roy Lynes, Alan Lancaster, John Coghlan, Rick Parfitt & Francis Rossi In Late 1960s

Having been an ever-present since joining in the late 60s, it was with great sadness that I learnt of Rick’s decision not to return to the band following his latest heart attack this summer. I could completely understand that though, given the need to protect his health and also his desire that if he was going to make further music it needed to “rock” – which sadly the band’s recent studio output and future touring plans do not accommodate.

Francis Rossi On Stage
Francis Rossi On Stage

Francis Rossi has been on the receiving end of an awful lot of stick from so-called Quo fans who seem to take great delight in slagging off everything that the band have done since the “frantic four” ceased to be in 1982. Whilst I realise that Francis has been for a long time the leader of the band I think that this abuse is very unfair. There is an argument that if he’s had his way then Quo would have been doing acoustic and country-style music for decades and that he resented playing the old hits all the time. There may be some truth to this. Certainly he is more inclined to go down the acoustic and lighter Quo route than Rick was, and many a musician who’s been performing for a long time is surely going to tire of some of the material that really has to be played to satisfy both the hardcore and casual concert goer?

Francis Rossi & Rick Parfitt
Francis Rossi & Rick Parfitt

What is beyond doubt to me, though, is that Francis and Rick have been the public face of Quo for many years now. With Rick gone many have called the band the Francis Rossi Band or Francis Rossi’s Quo.

The Frantic Four
The Frantic Four – John Coghlan, Rick Parfitt, Alan Lancaster & Francis Rossi

Let’s look at the facts. Whilst Rossi, Parfitt, Lancaster and Coghlan were all band members between 1967 and 1981, the “frantic four” itself only lasted from 1970 (following the departure of keyboardist Roy Lynes) to late 1976 (when Andrew Bown became an official member). So, depending on your point of view either fifteen or just seven years. Plus a handful of reunion gigs in 2013 and 2014 of course. In that time they produced eleven (or six!) studio albums.

Rick Parfitt, Francis Rossi & John "Rhino" Edwards On Stage In 1988
Rick Parfitt, Francis Rossi & John “Rhino” Edwards On Stage In 1988

John “Rhino” Edwards has been playing bass for Quo since 1986. By my reckoning – and leaving drummers aside as there have now been four since Coghlan left – that means the core of Rossi, Parfitt, Bown and Edwards were together for thirty years, at least double that of the fabled “frantic four”, and produced sixteen studio albums. Surely, then, those band members have every right to keep calling themselves Status Quo – even after Rick’s departure and death?

Status Quo Backstage In 1991
Status Quo Backstage In 1991

Yes, the bulk of the live set is still taken from the pre-1982 albums but, again, isn’t that the curse of so many “heritage” acts who are compelled to play the old stuff live in preference over their newer material? Bottom line, for me, is that “Quo-light” is as essential overall as the “classic” band and that, frankly, we should be grateful to Francis, Rick and co. for all the great music and performances that they’ve given us since 1986.

Andrew Bown & Richie Malone On Stage In 2016
Andrew Bown & Richie Malone On Stage In 2016

Following his enforced retirement from the band, Richie Malone has come in as stand-in for Rick on the band’s recent tour dates and done a great job by most accounts. However, at this point, who knows what – if any – future the band has?

Rick Parfitt - Bad Hair Day!
Rick Parfitt – Bad Hair Day!

I digress. Back to the late Mr. Parfitt. When I was young it was Rick who I aspired to be. Sure sometimes I had to pretend to be Francis (with my shirt collar turned under to imitate his grandad shirt!) so that I could sing the lead vocals while miming away to the records, but it was Rick, the golden-maned rock god (let’s ignore some of the naff haircuts he had occasionally!), for the heads down riffing and some of the best songs too.

Rick Parfitt In 1978
Rick Parfitt In 1978

Over the years Rick composed many of the great Quo classics. Not often as sole writer (this applies equally to Francis) but his early co-writes with Francis, then with Alan Lancaster and later with Andrew Bown, John “Rhino” Edwards and recently Wayne Morris have produced some of the best songs on each of the band’s albums – the sole exception being 1994’s “Thirsty Work” which is also the least Quo-sounding album, which is surely no random coincidence.

Rick Parfitt On Stage
Rick Parfitt On Stage

I could list all his writing credits, but if you’re really interested head over to From The Makers Of… which has a comprehensive list. Selected highlights, however, include the following: “Forty Five Hundred Times”, “Rain”, “Don’t Drive My Car” and “Mystery Song” would all easily be in my all-time Quo top ten songs and the likes of “Softer Ride”, “Belavista Man”, “Mystery Song”, “Little Lady” and “The Power Of Rock” wouldn’t be far behind. Many of Rick’s songs feature his distinctive lead vocals too.

Rick Parfitt & Francis Rossi In 1970s
Rick Parfitt & Francis Rossi In 1970s

On record, then, Rick had an invaluable input into the band’s superb legacy. Onstage, is there any better sound than all those instantly recognisable riffs being hammered out on his battered white Telecaster, or the perfection of Rick and Francis as they lock into the groove? Yes, age and health issues took their toll on his singing voice but he was still superb when I last saw the band at Lechlade last year.

There was talk of an autobiography and solo album for 2017. Neither will presumably see the light as they surely can’t have had much work done to them. There was a solo record named “Recorded Delivery” cut around 1985 so hopefully that my now finally get an official release.

Lyndsay Whitburn & Rick Parfitt
Rick Parfitt With Third Wife Lyndsay Whitburn

Rick may have had faults as a human being – too much indulgence in drink and drugs through the years and something of a weakness for the ladies perhaps – but whenever I saw him perform or appear on TV etc. there was a down to earth natural humour that shone though and he was the perfect foil to Francis.

Whatever happens now with Status Quo – and I hope the band do carry on (though I’d still rather they plugged back in and rock a bit!) – things can never quite be the same without Rick.  We’re moving house in a week, and I really should be packing stuff, so I’d better get on… Despite my best efforts, I don’t think I’ve come close to doing Rick justice. Suffice it to say he was a huge inspiration to me and many others, and is simply a massive loss. Rest in peace…

Rick Parfitt 1948 - 2016
Rick Parfitt 1948 – 2016

Aquostic II – That’s A Fact!

status-quo-aquostic-ii-thats-a-fact

Status Quo - Aquostic... Stripped Bare
Status Quo – Aquostic… Stripped Bare

Following on from 2014’s “Aquostic… Stripped Bare” album, British rock legends Status Quo have now unleashed their follow-up record, “Aquostic 2 – That’s A Fact!”.

Whereas the first instalment contained 25 back catalogue tracks re-worked as acoustic versions, this record features a further 16 re-workings alongside 3 brand new songs.

Rick Parfitt & Francis Rossi
Rick Parfitt & Francis Rossi

As before, the arrangements are not simply Quo stripped back to acoustic guitars – as many would have preferred – but feature a variety of additional musicians with instruments including strings, accordion, percussion etc. added. Although I enjoyed that approach first time out I must admit that at times the extra instrumentation feels intrusive and unnecessary to my ears with “Aquostic 2”.

Status Quo Live At The Union Chapel 2016
Status Quo Live At The Union Chapel 2016

I mentioned with the first record that 22 of the 25 tracks were from 1968-1983 and just 3 from 1986-1991 and nothing from anything originally recorded since then. So what do we have on volume two? Well again the bulk comes from the earlier “Frantic Four” phase of the band’s career, with 10 from 1968-1983, 6 from the period 1986-2005 and the 3 new tracks.

Francis Rossi
Francis Rossi

Over the two volumes, therefore, all original studio albums (ignoring the 3 covers albums and the “Bula Quo” soundtrack album) are represented by at least one re-working with the exception of “Spare Parts” (1969), “Ma Kelly’s Greasy Spoon” (1970), “Under The Influence” (1999), “In Search Of The Fourth Chord” (2007), and “Quid Pro Quo” (2011). It might, perhaps, have been nice to dump a few of the obvious choices and included material from these five records – particularly the latter three which all contain great songs.

crmrootw8aakmyiAnyway, I digress. To the album itself… some of the tracks work very well indeed – the single “That’s A Fact”, “In The Army Now” are amongst those with fairly minor tweaking from the original arrangements. A number of very similar to their electric versions – such as “Jam Side Down”, “Living On An Island” and “Lies” – but there are a few that are really quite different to the versions that my ears are used to hearing. Of those, “Roll Over Lay Down” is pretty good, but I am not overly keen on “Lover Of The Human Race” even though I did like the original (on one of the band’s possibly least-loved records) and I don’t like what they’ve done to the 1982 hit “Dear John” at all.

Rick Parfitt
Rick Parfitt

Looking at the new songs, “Is Someone Rocking Your Heart” is the best of the three but in truth none of them are especially catchy or memorable – something that can certainly be said of most of Quo’s best work in the past.

Although Rick Parfitt plays and sings on the record he suffered a major heart attack on tour earlier this year and has just announced – via an interview with Classic Rock magazine – that he will not be returning to the band in a performing capacity. Francis Rossi, the undoubted leader of the group, has decided that the current “The Last Night Of The Electrics” tour will be the last time they perform with the famous Telecasters plugged in and that future touring will be in the Aquostic style only.

richie-maloneThis tour sees Parfitt’s rhythm guitar role being performed by guitarist Richie Malone (a long-term Quo fan) and his vocal duties shared between bassist John “Rhino” Edwards and keyboardist Andrew Bown. Having taken the decision not to return, Parfitt stated that “…in my heart I’m a rocker, I’ve always been. If I’m going to make music it’s got to rock…” and that “…there would probably have been room for me if I decided I wanted to, but I’m not a great fan of the whole acoustic malarkey. It doesn’t float my boat…”. While he is careful not to say anything negative towards his old bandmate it’s clear that Rossi calls the shots.

Francis Rossi, John "Rhino" Edwards & Andrew Bown
Francis Rossi, John “Rhino” Edwards & Andrew Bown

The band’s official statement states that “…Rick will step back from his regular touring commitments with the band…” but that his “…connection with and within the band of course remains intact and that he will continue to be involved with future non-touring commercial activities of the band…” Quite what that means if Rossi is determined to stick to the Aqoustic formula, which Parfitt doesn’t like, is anyone’s guess but further recording involving Parfitt appears unlikely.

Leon Cave
Leon Cave

Overall, then, this is a pleasant enough album. Both Rossi and Parfitt’s voices are showing their age – oddly Rossi sounds better during the group’s plugged-in concerts than on this album – but at 67 and 68 respectively then that’s no huge surprise. The rest of the group, the aforementioned Edwards, Bown and drummer Leon Cave acquit themselves well enough within this context but, as with the two main men I prefer to hear them plugged in and at full flight.

Rick Parfitt & Francis Rossi
Rick Parfitt & Francis Rossi

Given that Quo’s last proper album – 2011’s “Quid Per Quo” – was such a great record it’s a real shame that their career looks to be coming to a close with a fairly naff film soundtrack (“Bula Quo” in 2013) and now two acoustic re-imaginings after so many great years of quality rock records. I for one will miss the days with Rossi and Parfitt cranking out all those classic riffs and songs…status-quo-btm

“Aquostic II – That’s A Fact!” tracklist:

1. That’s A Fact / 2. Roll Over Lay Down / 3. Dear John / 4. In The Army Now / 5. Hold You Back / 6. One For The Road / 7. Backwater / 8. One Of Everything / 9. Belavista Man / 10. Lover Of The Human Race / 11. Ice In The Sun / 12. Mess Of The Blues / 13. Jam Side Down / 14. Resurrection / 15. Lies / 16. Little Dreamer / 17. Living On An Island / 18. Is Someone Rocking Your Heart? / 19. Rockers Rollin’

1 originally from “Blue For You” (1976) / 2 originally from “Hello!” (1973) / 3 originally from “1+9+8+2” (1982) / 4 originally from “In The Army Now” (1986) / 5 and 19 originally from “Rockin’ All Over The World” (1977) / 6, 8 and 18 brand new songs / 7 originally from “Quo” (1974) / 9 originally from “The Party Ain’t Over Yet” (2005) / 10 originally from “Thirsty Work” (1994) / 11 originally from “Picturesque Matchstickable Messages From” (1968) / 12 originally from “Back To Back” (1983) / 13 originally from “Heavy Traffic” (2002) / 14 originally from “Never Too Late” (1981) / 15 originally from “Just Supposin'” (1980) / 16 originally from “Perfect Remedy” (1989) / 17 originally from “Whatever You Want” (1979)

Lechlade Music Festival

Lechlade-Festival-quarter-66nyyrmuvj95a3t0kffc4a154poxnyan8pnf4rkdakeOn Sunday 24th May my wife and I took our three youngest kids to the Lechlade Music Festival, held on the Riverside Park in Lechlade-On-Thames. The children had been asking to see Status Quo play live in concert for some time, and when the band was announced as festival headliners we decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to give them what they want, especially given the family friendly and wallet friendly set up of this festival.

Twister
Twister

So it was that we sat down in the early Sunday afternoon sun to catch Twister, a rock band from Durham who have previously supported Simple Minds take the main Riverside Stage in front of just a few dozen interested spectators. Frontman Stevie Stoker had something of Mike Peters about him, not just with the very blond hair but definitely vocally. I don’t think it would be too much of a stretch to say that the band’s material was also reminiscent of Peters’ band The Alarm either.

Twister
Twister

A mix of some good original material and a few covers thrown in meant that the band kept everyone entertained. Their reworking of Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep” and a moody rocker with tasty guitar solo was impressive, as was the funky riff given to their version of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall”. Less successful, in all honesty, was a blast through Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” which stretched Stoker’s vocal range a little too much. “Follow”, the final song of their set saw an atmospheric intro build into a nice anthemic number – again bringing to mind the likes of The Alarm, which is no bad thing. A promising band for sure, and one who really deserve a bigger attentive audience.

Dealer
Dealer

Next up was Cirencester band Dealer. Formed back in 1979, Dealer are an unapologetic NWOBHM band. Still led by founder member singer / guitarist Trevor Short, the band is completed by guitarist Steve Peril, drummer Rupert Irving and bassist Tom Bull.

Dealer
Dealer

First track “When Midnight Comes” and it’s heads down, double bass drums and twin flying Vs – great stuff! “Looking For A Reason” and “Better Things To Do” (the latter played in memory of former bassist Pete Gentil who died in a motorcycle crash in 2013) showcased some tasty harmony guitar work, and the band’s epic number “The Final Conflict”, with plenty of stop-start riffing was another demonstration that this was a group that deserved more success back in the early 80s than fate dealt them.

Dealer - First Strike
Dealer – First Strike

Setlist:

1. When Midnight Comes / 2. Muscovite / 3. Looking For A Reason / 4. Epitaph / 5. Shatter The Night / 6. Choose Your Weapon / 7. Victim Of The Night / 8. Lap Of The Gods / 9. The Final Conflict : I Prologue – II Conflict – III Genocide / 10. Better Things To Do

Lee Pryor
Lee Pryor

Then it was time for me to head over to the Shire Stage to catch Light Zeppelin, the moniker used by three members of top Led Zeppelin tribute act Whole Lotta Led for their acoustic shows. The band had headlined the main stage on the Friday night with their usual electric set, so this performance was obviously hotly anticipated. The tent was packed even before the group started, and stewards and security had their work cut out trying to keep track of who was coming and going to avoid overcrowding.

The set began in low-key fashion with the instrumental “Black Mountain Side”, before moving into a wonderful acoustic rendition of “Kashmir”. Throughout the performance it was clear that the three were having a ball and love celebrating the rich legacy of Led Zeppelin.

Nick Ferris
Nick Ferris

Both guitarist Nick Ferris and bass / mandolin player Geoff Hunt played their parts perfectly, but special praise must go to singer Lee Pryor whose vocals were bang on the money. In a tent full of people of all ages the trio went down a storm, especially when “Stairway To Heaven” reached its epic climax.

Geoff Hunt
Geoff Hunt

One thing I don’t get about some people though – why on earth must so many folk talk at top volume all the way through artists’ performances? One might get away with it during a full powered electric performance, but the noise of talking during the quieter moments of such a brilliant, and at times delicate, performance was rather disrespectful to the band I felt.

Whole Lotta Led
Whole Lotta Led

Setlist:

1. Black Mountain Side / 2. Kashmir / 3. Babe I’m Gonna Leave You / 4. Thank You / 5. That’s The Way / 6. Going To California / 7. Tangerine / 8. Stairway To Heaven / 9. Rock And Roll

Following Light Zeppelin’s masterful set I made my way back to the rest of the family in time to catch the tail end of Dirty Thrills, who I am led to believe were OK, although the outfits and histrionics of the band members – particularly the pirate-themed bassist – meant that they left the impression with my wife that they all belonged in different bands!

Mia Klose
Mia Klose

Next act on the main stage was Swedish singer Mia Klose. First impressions were the Klose looked the part in her bright green lycra outfit but appeared to be fronting someone else’s backing band!

Mia Klose
Mia Klose

Vocally Klose was, to our ears, too poppy and “nice” to be fronting a hard rock band. The riffs were there, there were several bouts of synchronised headbanging from the singer and band members (though one of the guitarists was conspicuous by his non-participation!), but Klose lacks the grit and edge of the likes of Lita Ford and Pat Benatar – though this is less evident on her recorded work.

Mia Klose
Mia Klose

The songs, such as “Living For Love” and “Let’s Get Wild”, were fairly catchy, though not especially memorable, and to overriding impression was of a Eurovision pop singer fronting a fairly generic sounding rock band. This was most obvious on the closing Guns N’ Roses cover “You Could Be Mine”. Klose has the look – even more so when she chooses a more rock wardrobe – but just lacked that edge vocally. You can’t fault her professionalism, effort or enthusiasm though and the crowd certainly seemed entertained.

Mia Klose - London
Mia Klose – London

Setlist:

1. Brand New Day / 2. Unknown / 3. Unknown / 4. Living For Love / 5. Let’s Get Wild / 6. Winning This Game / 7. Stronger / 8 . Not The One / 9. Never Too Late / 10. You Could Be Mine (apologies for any errors – not all songs were name-checked)

The Kix
The Kix

An all-girl rock band from Aberdare in South Wales followed. The Kix were formed by sisters Sam (vocals / guitar) and Charlotte Bolderson (drums), with Harriet Wadeson completing the line-upon bass.

Sam Bolderson
Sam Bolderson

Hitting the stage and kicking off with a playful teaser intro of Status Quo’s “Caroline” riff before launching straight into AC/DC’s “Whole Lotta Rosie” the band were on to a winner from the off.

Harriet
Harriet Wadeson

With Sam Bolderson and Wadeson both wearing skin-tight shiny black trousers and the girls sporting long dark hair all round the trio definitely looked like a rock band, and they played like one too – think along the lines of The Runaways or The Donnas and you’re not too far off course.

Charlotte Bolderson
Charlotte Bolderson

A perfectly judged set mixed originals like “Lady Luck” with a host of varied cover versions, and the rapidly expanding audience loved every minute of it. All three were technically proficient and locked together well, but I was particularly impressed with Sam Bolderson’s vocals and guitar playing – even more so as she carried on playing without hesitation when her guitar strap came undone during the last song! These girls should go far.

The Kix - Lady Luck
The Kix – Lady Luck

Setlist:

1. Whole Lotta Rosie / 2. Back To My Place / 3. Lady Luck / 4. Devil Gate Drive / 5. Medley : a. Don’t Bring Me Down / b. I Hear You Knockin’ / c. Don’t Bring Me Down / 6. Bring The Thunder / 7. Medley : a. Fat Bottomed Girls / b. We Will Rock You / c. I Want To Break Free / d. Another One Bites The Dust / e. Tie Your Mother Down / 8. Johnny B. Goode / 9. The Timewarp / 10. Delilah

Rick Parfitt
Rick Parfitt

Finally, as darkness began to fall the drone introduction issued forth from the PA system and suddenly there, picked out by a spotlight, was Rick Parfitt hammering away on his trusty telecaster and headliners Status Quo got the place up on their feet rocking with “Caroline”.

Francis Rossi
Francis Rossi

Our kids’ eyes lit up and they were loving it – even the one who had announced the previous day that they didn’t like Status Quo and that the event would be boring(!?!). Hit after hit followed, with the odd heavier track thrown in too.

Francis Rossi’s usual green and white telecaster was nowhere to be seen until later in the set, an all-green instrument – which Rossi referred to as German and being able to tune itself – being used as the main guitar instead. Regardless, the whole band sounded superb – even Parfitt’s vocals, which have sounded over stretched during prior gigs, were pretty good.

Andrew Bown
Andrew Bown

Andrew Bown seemed to spend more time prowling the stage with a guitar strapped on and less time behind the keyboards than I recall being the case previously, John “Rhino” Edwards was as solid as ever on the bass and new boy, drummer Leon Cave, was excellent.

John
John “Rhino” Edwards

Parfitt seemed to lose it briefly during the quiet section of “Roll Over Lay Down” and Rossi occasionally fluffed the lyrics, but to put on such a high energy and rocking show at their age – particularly given that they had performed the previous night in Cornwall – I think the odd mistake can be excused!

Leon Cave
Leon Cave

The set seemed to fly by and it was time to head our way home all too soon, but everyone seemed to have had a thoroughly good time – our kids definitely loved it, so job done – you can’t go wrong with the Quo!

Setlist:

1. Caroline / 2. Something ‘Bout You Baby I Like / 3. Rain / 4. Paper Plane / 5. Little Lady / 6. Hold You Back / 7. Beginning Of The End / 8. Medley : a. What You’re Proposin’ / b. Down The Dustpipe / c. Wild Side Of Life / d. Railroad / e. Again And Again / 9. Big Fat Mama / 10. The Oriental / 11. Creepin’ Up On You / 12. In The Army Now / 13. Drum Solo / 14. Roll Over Lay Down / 15. Down Down / 16. Whatever You Want / 17. Rockin’ All Over The World / 18. Junior’s Wailing / 19. Medley : a. Rock ‘N’ Roll Music / b. Bye Bye Johnny

1 and 14 originally from “Hello!” (1973) / 2 originally from “Never Too Late” (1981) / 3 and 9 originally from “Blue For You” (1976) / 4 originally from “Piledriver” (1972) / 5, 15 and 19b originally from “On The Level” (1975) / 6 and 17 originally from “Rockin’ All Over The World” (1977) / 7 originally from “In Search Of The Fourth Chord” (2007) / 8a originally from “Just Supposin'” (1980) / 8b originally a single release (1970) / 8c originally a single release (1976) / 8d originally from “Dog Of Two Head” (1971) / 8e originally from “If You Can’t Stand The Heat…” (1978) / 10 and 11 originally from “Heavy Traffic” (2002) / 12 originally from “In The Army Now” (1986) / 16 originally from “Whatever You Want! (1979) / 18 originally from “Ma Kelly’s Greasy Spoon” (1970) / 19a cover of Chuck Berry single (1957)

Aquostic… Stripped Bare

Status Quo Aquostic BannerI’ve been a fan of Status Quo since “Something ‘Bout You Baby I Like” became a hit way back in February 1981, and received my first Quo album, “Never Too Late”, as an Easter present soon after.

I immersed myself in their already impressive back catalogue as quickly as I was able, bringing my collection to 14 studio albums plus the classic “Live!” double album and a fair number of 7″ singles as well.

Along the way since then there have been a further 17 studio albums, including the latest – “Aquostic – Stripped Bare”, a collection of 25 classic Quo tracks re-recorded with acoustic guitars rather than the trusty Telecasters.

So, how does this album stack up against the legacy? Perhaps that depends which type of Quo fan you are. There are those who dismiss anything the band has done since the departure of 1970s rhythm section – drummer John Coghlan left during recording sessions in 1982 and bassist Alan Lancaster followed in 1985 – and seem to view main man Francis Rossi in a very poor light. There are also those who prefer the Quo that has existed since 1986 with bassist John “Rhino” Edwards and  successive drummers Jeff Rich, Matt Letley and latest recruit Leon Cave. Then there are those who love the band regardless of which rhythm section is performing and can appreciate the good, and the bad, in all the band’s recordings. I count myself firmly in the latter camp.

I have to say that, although I can see what they are getting at with the title of the album, arguably this is anything but Quo “stripped bare”, as there are ten additional musicians credited in addition to the five band members, and more instrumentation on the tracks than you would normally find with Quo tracks.

In terms of song selection, I find it slightly odd that we have 22 tracks spanning the 15 year period 1968 – 1983, and just 3 tracks covering the recording career of the “new” band, and then only covering the first 5 years, 1986 – 1991. Will there be a second acoustic album covering material from the past 24 years, I wonder?

The songs are presented chronologically, in terms of when they were originally released, with the exception of “Little Lady” and “Mystery Song”, which although listed as being in that order on the tracklist, and on the band’s website, are actually reversed as one segues into the other. The rest, however, are strictly chronological, which I feel makes the album feel more like a greatest hits type project, whereas had the tracks been mixed up more, as indeed they were when Quo performed them live at London’s Roundhouse for BBC Radio 2, then the flow of the album would have been improved.

Rick Parfitt & Francis Rossi At The Roundhouse
Rick Parfitt & Francis Rossi At The Roundhouse

In musical terms, the majority of the songs are in their familiar arrangements, with the addition of accordion, string section, extra percussion and backing vocals, which give many of the tracks a folky, cajun, singalong vibe – and are great for strumming along to with your guitar at home. “And It’s Better Now”, the single, is a fabulous version, and a definite highlight of the album.

There are a few more radical renditions though. “Pictures Of Matchstick Men”, although not hugely different in arrangement, has a lovely Beatlesque vibe with prominent string section. “Caroline” begins as a slow 12 bar shuffle, before switching to the more up tempo arrangement that we are used to. “Break The Rules” has a completely different guitar / harmonica solo passage (possibly because Rossi allegedly had problems recreating his original solo when the band added the song to their live set for a while around 2003). I like the quirky ending to “Again And Again”, and “Whatever You Want” has a percussion / strings intro.

The most different version though must be “Don’t Drive My Car”. One of my all time favourite Quo tracks, particularly in concert, this version has a completely different tone, which, although it won’t replace the original version in my affections, does definitely offer something new and unexpected.

Less successful, I feel are “All The Reasons”, which exposes the limitations in Rick Parfitt’s voice these days, and does nothing to improve upon the original recording. “Softer Ride”, which I have always loved, lacks the dynamic range, certainly from the version the band were performing in concert in the late 1990s.

One could argue that it may have been better had Quo approached this project in a similar way to Eric Clapton’s “Unplugged” album, and others like it, which would perhaps have given a more stripped back and bluesy vibe, with slower arrangements, than the cajun idea, and I suspect that there will be a fair number of Quo fans, particularly those of the “Frantic Four” who would have preferred that approach. Overall, though, I would say that this album is a very good addition to the Quo canon, and one that I would recommend without hesitation.

Status Quo At The Roundhouse
Status Quo At The Roundhouse

“Aquostic – Stripped Bare” tracklist:

1. Pictures Of Matchstick Men / 2. Down The Dustpipe / 3. Nanana / 4. Paper Plane / 5. All The Reasons / 6. Reason For Living / 7. And It’s Better Now / 8. Caroline / 9. Softer Ride / 10. Claudie / 11. Break The Rules / 12. Down Down / 13. Mystery Song / 14. Little Lady / 15. Rain / 16. Rockin’ All Over The World / 17. Again And Again / 18. Whatever You Want / 19. What You’re Proposin’ / 20. Rock ‘N’ Roll / 21. Don’t Drive My Car / 22. Marguerita Time / 23. Rollin’ Home / 24. Burning Bridges / 25. Rock ‘Til You Drop

1 originally from “Picturesque Matchstickable Messages From” (1968) / 2 originally a single release (1970) / 3 originally from “Dog Of Two Head” (1971) / 4-5 originally from “Piledriver” (1972) / 6-10 originally from “Hello!” (1973) / 11 originally from “Quo” (1974) / 12 and 14 originally from “On The Level” (1975) / 13 and 15 originally from “Blue For You” (1976) / 16 originally from “Rockin’ All Over The World” (1977) / 17 originally from “If You Can’t Stand The Heat” (1978) / 18 originally from “Whatever You Want” (1979) / 19-21 originally from “Just Supposin'” (1980) / 22 originally from “Back To Back” (1983) / 23 originally from “In The Army Now” (1986) / 24 originally from “Ain’t Complaining” (1988) / 25 originally from “Rock ‘Til You Drop” (1991)