The Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll is back and still kicking down doors. A genuine legend, Suzi Quatro is celebrating a head-spinning half-century since the primal rhythms of Can The Can launched her into the public consciousness. Her show in the grand surroundings of The London Palladium displays old-school showbiz smarts mixed with raw energy.
The London Palladium – 15 November 2023
Words: Paul Monkhouse
Photography: Robert Sutton
There’s a timeless quality to Suzi Quatro. Her ability to still go out and play a two-and-a-half-hour show every night gives a clear indication of her passion for letting the music do the talking.
Suzi Quatro – Set One
A career-spanning set, the opening roar of The Wild One tips everyone headfirst into her world as the ancient theatre’s walls shake and flakes of plaster are dislodged and drift down. Dressed in blue denim covered in glitter and holding a blue bass that’s almost as big as her, she’s the epitome of true and fearless girl power, and it’s a mighty sight.
With a great eight-piece band behind her, the ability to replicate the feeling of a ’50s and ’60s rock ‘n’ roll variety show for I May Be Too Young is a warm and nostalgic throwback to a time when the music of youth rebellion was making headway into the world.
Early single Daytona Demon is given a fresh lick of paint, too. Its crawling hard rock prowl is deliciously spiky. But this isn’t just a look back in time, though. Newer tracks No Soul / No Control and The Devil In Me are also represented in pounding style, amongst others.
KT Tunstall may not be present to replicate Shine A Light from this year’s acclaimed duet album Face To Face, however the song still soars. Boy George and Sex Pistols bass player Glen Matlock join Suzi Quatro for a run-through of Stumblin’ In, the guests bring their own star power to the evening.
Closing the first half of the night is a ballsy run-through of Rockin’ In The Free World and a gentle, thoughtful Can I Be Your Girl, which sees Quatro alone on stage sitting behind a piano as she dedicates the song to her parents. You get the feeling they would have been incredibly proud of this moment.
Suzi Quatro – Set Two
Emerging for the second set in her trademark black leather all-in-one, it was a blistering one-two with the heads-down versions of Motor City Riders and I Sold My Soul Today tearing up the stage. After throwing in a heartfelt cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Bad Moon Rising, it was time to dig out some more hits. She’s In Love With You sounded as fresh and vibrant as when it was first released some forty-four years ago.
A nod must go to Quatro’s band. The two backing singers, three-piece brass section, drummer, keys player and guitarist are a slick machine that still had enjoyably rough edges that brought the songs to pulsating life.
Whilst the giant video screen behind the stage illustrated key moments from the singer’s career and her utter control over the audience showed impressive command, there was never any shying away from a grit from all onstage that grabbed and held the attention throughout.
Displaying her undoubted skills as a bass player, Quatro let loose on the solo Glycerine Queen before flexing her drumming chops in a duet behind the kit.
Suitably warmed up and demanding the audience get to their feet, Can The Can and Devil Gate Drive were played with a joyful vengeance before a three-song encore closed with a stately Desperado, the Eagles classic stripped back to just keys and vocals.
Make no mistake, Suzi Quatro is a force of nature and remains one of the best entertainers and musicians to ever turn an amp up loud.
With enough charisma to light up a city and the energy and chops to boot, it wouldn’t be surprising to see her still doing this in another fifty years. Just incredible.