The Status Quo Frantic Four reunion gig March 16th 2013
“Quo, Quo, Quo“, chant the already ecstatic crowd at Hammersmith Apollo. Then over the PA comes the dulcite tones of Jackie Lynton,
“Is there anybody out there who wants to rock?”
“Yes!!!!” roars the audience and they recite, word for word the rest of the taped announcement with Jackie.
“Tonight live, we have the number one rock and roll band in the land. Will you welcome the magnificent Status Quo!!!!!!!”
Because we, all 5000 of us, know these words. They come from Status Quo’s 1976 Live! album recorded at Glasgow Apollo. An album I played so much that I bought two copies because the first cassette tape broke and then so did the second. And weren’t long cassette tapes useless!!
It was finally happening. It was the 16th of March 2013 and I was seconds away from witnessing the original Status Quo line-up of Francis Rossi, Rick Parfitt, Alan Lancaster and John Coghlan once more. An event that in 1992 Francis had told Classic Rock Magazine, in very colourful language, would never happen.
Status Quo and being a Frantic Four Fan
Actually wanting to see the original band play wasn’t something I’d waited over 30 years for. I didn’t think it was possible to re-create that magic of that era. I remember seeing a Pink Floyd reunion on TV and that was disappointing. I didn’t want to see Quo fall flat on their faces like that either. I’d rather preserve the memory.
I first blogged about my love of Quo last October when I attended the Hello Quo, film premiere, a documentary about their 50 year career. In the film we saw a clip of John, Alan, Francis and Rick first meeting and then jamming at Shepperton Studios for the first time in 30 years. I cried and felt elated at the same time. And this clip whetted my appetite to see them play once more. But it was still with a bit of trepidation last year that I bought a ticket to their 9 day reunion tour. The clincher for me was that they were playing the Hammersmith Odeon, I mean Apollo, where I’d seen them before. And this time I’d be standing in the stalls and not up in the back of the balcony as before.
By the time the day of the gig arrived I knew I’d be in for a treat. I’d seen Youtube videos like this clip of Junior’s Wailing (Frantic Four reunion 2013). And I had read two good reviews in which The Guardian and The Times gave them 4 stars. A big surprise after years of the press sneering at their music. And I’d monitored the emotional frenzy on the band’s message board which Quo producer Mike Paxman likened to the Second Coming. And then the new pope was announced as Pope Francis. How surreal was that!
Status Quo and their love of audience participation
Along with my love of Quo’s bluesy rock music, I’ve always loved the audience participation at their gigs. After the first three magnificent numbers (Junior’s Wailing, Backwater and Just Take Me) it was time to hear from Francis. He gave us his traditional greeting.
“Ow are you, ‘alrighhh!!!”
“Yeah!!!!!……..” replies the crowd in an almost deafening roar.
The previous night, also at Hammersmith which I’ve seen on Youtube, he replied.
“Shit, you feel better now. You’ve waited a long time to do that again, haven’t you.”
He’d gauged the mood just right. The crowd had. By the next evening, Saturday, when I went, he was more prepared for the overwhelming emotional response and he said
“Oohhh. That was like an organ, organ..never mind. They normally say the loudest crowds are in Glasgow. The last two nights they’re in ‘ammersmith, in’t they. It’s blindin’.”
These gigs had attracted fans from all over the UK and all over the world – Holland, Sweden, Ireland and Australia were particularly well represented. But many other countries were there too. And some fans were attending all nine dates of the tour.
Alan Lancaster and John Coghlan introductions from Francis Rossi
The next bit of audience participation must have evolved during the tour because of this amazing audience reaction. On the first night at Manchester Francis had simply said,
“I give you Alan Lancaster and John Coghlan.”
Seven gigs later and they’d devised a wonderful routine and we had our part to play. After the more formal intro of their names and the crowd cheers, Alan spoke.
“I can see ya.”
This was new as in the past it was only Francis who did the talking. The crowd are feverishly chanting “Quooo, oh oh, oh oh”
Francis continues, “that’s Nuff and that’s Spud. Say ‘allo Nuff.”
“Hello Nuff,” we roar back.
“Say ‘allo Spud.”
“Hallo Spud” we respond.
And John twirls his drum sticks up in the air. Then with perfect timing Alan says, “hallo.”
It was a wonderful piece of live theatre and captured how we all felt so beautifully.
My Frantic Four reunion gig review
The gig was amazing. The band proved that dashing around the stage as the frantic four wasn’t why we loved them. I heard Mark Knopfler say that how he plays a guitar is individual to him. No other musician will get his sound. Its unique. And this is partly what we had missed all these years. The unique combination of how these four gents sound when they play together. And how they played with such emotional intensity and focus. It was all ‘blindin’ to watch.
Along with all the old album favourites there were a couple of very early songs I’d never heard live before April, Spring Summer Wednesdays and Oh Baby. And listening afresh to the lyrics of all the songs I noticed that so many were so sad, about being lonely or wanting love. That surprised me because hearing Quo has always lifted my spirits. On reflection, its not surprising as this is the stuff of blues, rock and pop music. But I’d never noticed this until that gig.
That night standing amongst the fans, singing our hearts out my spirits were high. Those 90 minutes went by too fast. We never missed an opportunity to join in though and sing when needed. Just as this clip of 4500 times shows. And many thanks to Dale Nicholson for capturing this night so brilliantly in this one clip. I’m there in the thick of that wonderful crowd. Thanks to all the fans and John, Alan, Rick, Francis and Bob Young (on mouth harp) for a very special night. 16th March 2013. Hammersmith Odeon. I was there.
There are many photos online of the band taken with cameras better than mine. This flickr slide show from a Dutch fan is great. My gallery celebrates the fans’ enjoyment. Click on any photo for a better view in gallery mode.