We decided to send our Editor to Friday night’s Status Quo gig at The Union Chapel in Islington. He listens to Folk Metal, Death Metal, Motörhead and Manowar twenty-five hours a day, eight days a week. It was never going to be an easy task to get him there as Quo just isn’t exactly his thing so we cooked up a plan, baked it well and with a little luck sprinkled on top, it actually worked.
Photos by Sean Cameron
We got him when he was at his busiest because we knew if we said there was a job needed doing he would just do it, so we just casually dropped it into another conversation: “There’s a gig on Friday night and there’s nobody available or suitable so would you mind doing it?” He said yes and we bluffed him about the venue and band. Here’s what happened, in the Editor’s words.
When I asked what gig the Live Department wanted me to review, they mumbled a name and said they had an accordion player and string section and I’m sold immediately. I presumed they just couldn’t pronounce the name as the logo was in that unreadable Black Metal font. Somebody picked me up and when we pulled up at the Union Chapel in Islington, I was racking my brains thinking which band are playing here tonight? Then it hit me. It’s Status Quo. And it’s in a church. I like Folk Metal and Death Metal and am very strictly anti-religion.
They’ve stitched me up, big style, the rotten swines. Who do I complain to? That would be me…
There’s only one thing to do in a situation like this and that is head straight to the bar and my treasured, newly purchased large bottle of Timothy Taylor Landlord was duly concealed under my leather jacket as, with three minutes to go until showtime, I walked past the sign that said “No alcohol in the chapel!” which I definitely did not see.
I found a seat with a fairly decent view, settled, took out the bottle, took a large swig and accidentally slammed the bottle down too hard on the pew. It duly exploded and covered me and the five people in my immediate vicinity in foaming, frothing bitter.
Now I had five pairs of eyes giving me the death stare, I am dripping wet in smelly beer, I am in a church which is making me uncomfortable and Status Quo are about to come on stage and I am worried I won’t enjoy it and won’t know what to write. It was not going well.
Fast forward four minutes and it’s a totally different scenario. Francis Rossi has led his platoon onto the stage like they were in the army now, the orchestra are already in position and they’ve opened the set with ‘Pictures Of Matchstick Men’ and it was absolutely bloody marvellous.
The five death stares had by now turned into smiles because this is one happy occasion and I’ve smelt of worst things than stale beer before. As for being in a church, I only ever go to those kind of places for funerals and some of my Scandinavian Black Metal friends only enter such a building when they wish to burn it down but tonight the Union Chapel was very much alive and ablaze with seriously good time rock n’ roll.
I still can’t work out how I knew not just every song they played, apart from the two new ones*, but all of the lyrics too? Perhaps Behemoth or SuidAkrA inserted Status Quo subliminals in one of their albums and it seeped into my subconscious or perhaps it’s just that this band write incredibly infectious and unforgettable songs that you remember twenty years after you last heard them.
Francis Rossi is a true rock icon and I felt privileged to be watching he and his colleagues perform in an intimate surrounding in front of a crowd of roughly 600 with the best possible sound you can imagine. The Chapel has the best acoustics in London and this was Aqoustic but it still rocked and you could almost touch the joy and happiness that radiated from the band.
They’ll be performing in front of a much bigger crowd on Sunday when they play the BBC Radio 2 Festival In A Day in London’s Hyde Park and this was the “warm-up” for that. But it was much more than that; it was a huge treat for everyone present and an unforgettable musical experience, despite the lack of Satanic imagery and corpse paint.
Francis Rossi is a total natural with his audience and a consummate entertainer, the best line of the evening being: “I hope you enjoy this. I hope we enjoy this. It should be all right but hang on… I’ve got something twitching that shouldn’t be twitching…”
His easy banter was natural, relaxed, impressive and warm and his interplay with his bandmates a joy to watch.
It was a very short forty-five minute set that absolutely left the audience, myself included, wanting more. We got a little more as Rhino had allegedly forgotten to give the cameraman the signal when they played ‘That’s A Fact’ and ‘Hold You Back’ so they came back and did those two new numbers again*. Only one person left the building and that was the bloke with the mop and bucket who had arrived to clean up some spilt beer in one of the pews.
‘That’s A Fact’ is a hybrid of The Who’s ‘Magic Bus’ and The Stones’ ‘Not Fade Away’ and it’s a great song but it was obviously the hits that did the business tonight and they were all still in my head when I got the midnight train home.
Before that, I had spoken with some of the hardcore Quo fans to get their take on tonight and Gary Rogers and Andy Fyfe, who have seen Quo around forty times each, confirmed that what I had seen was real, as good as I thought it was and on a par with any previous Quo performance they had witnessed.
These two gents will be seeing Quo four times on the Last Of The Electrics Tour and having spoken at length with them, I would not be surprised if that four rises significantly come the time.
So Status Quo, you made a lot of people happy tonight, including one beer sodden Motörhead freak and I thank you most sincerely for it. You deserve all the success you have had and have coming and I really hope you make shedloads more money before you call it a day.
Yes – about that. It only took me 36-years to get round to seeing you and I would happily repeat the experience. You are simply too good to stop playing so please reconsider, unless your plans are to launch the Status Quo Death Metal era. Which they are probably not.
Very best wishes and kindest thoughts to Rick Parfitt who all Quo fans want to see perform one final time at least. A positive to come from Rick’s absence is the emergence of Freddie Edwards and I hope his experience in the band his Dad plays in serves as a springboard to future success. He deserves it, as do all the band for putting huge smiles on faces.
I went to church tonight and got converted into a Status Quo fan and I think my eyes are now a funny kind of yellow…
*’That’s A Fact’ and ‘Hold You Back’ are not new numbers at all. The former is from the ‘Blue For You’ album which was released in 1976 and the latter is from 1977s ‘Rockin’ All Over the World’. This is what happens when you send the wrong person to review a gig.
Pictures Of Matchstick Men
What You’re Proposing
That’s A Fact
Hold You Back
Whatever You Want
Rockin’ All Over The World
That’s A Fact
Hold You Back
You can see Status Quo live here:
Sunday 11th September – BBC Radio 2 Festival In A Day, Hyde Park, London*
Wednesday 12th October – Gasometer, Vienna
Thursday 13th October – Wörtherseehalle, Klagenfurt
Saturday 15th October – Hallenstadium, Zürich
Monday 17th October – Poppodium, Tilburg
Friday 28th October – SSE Arena, Belfast
Saturday 29th October – 3 Arena, Dublin
Thursday 10th November – Barclaycard Arena, Hamburg
Friday 11th November – Arena, Leipzig
Saturday 12th November – Dreiländerhalle, Passau
Monday 14th November – Max-Schmeling-Halle, Berlin
Tuesday 15th November – Messehalle, Erfurt
Thursday 17th November – Stadthalle, Rostock
Friday 18th November – Nordseehalle, Emden
Saturday 19th November – Lanxess Arena, Köln
Monday 21st November – Jahrhunderthalle, Frankfurt
Tuesday 22nd November – Brosearena, Bamberg
Thursday 24th November – König-Pilsener-Arena, Oberhausen
Friday 25th November – Swiss Life Arena, Hannover
Saturday 26th November – Stadthalle, Magdeburg
Tuesday 29th November – Porsche Arena, Stuttgart
Wednesday 30th November – Olympiahalle, München
Friday 2nd December – Heineken Music Hall, Amsterdam
Saturday 3rd December – Ancienne Belgique, Brussels
Sunday 4th December – Zenith, Paris
Thursday 8th December – Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham
Friday 9th December – Bournemouth Bic, Bournemouth
Sunday 11th December –The 02 Arena, London
Tuesday 13th December – Brighton Centre, Brighton
Wednesday 14th December – Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
Friday 16th December – Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham
Saturday 17th December – First Direct Arena, Leeds
Monday 19th December – Manchester Arena, Manchester
Tuesday 20th December – The SSE Hydro, Glasgow
Thursday 22nd December – Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle
Friday 23rd December – Echo Arena, Liverpool
* – Special acoustic performances
Tickets for all UK and Ireland gigs are available here.
Status Quo at The Union Chapel were:
Francis Rossi – Vocals/Guitars
Freddie Edwards – Vocals/Guitars
John ‘Rhino’ Edwards – Bass Guitar/Backing Vocals
Andrew Bown – Keyboards/Guitar/Backing Vocals
Leon Cave – Drums/Backing Vocals
Amy Smith – Backing Vocals
Hannah Rickard – Backing Vocals
Plus six-piece orchestra