Quo plug in and bring house down
MICK BURGESS REVIEWS STATUS QUO AT NEWCASTLE CITY HALL
THOSE preferring a pre-show pint in the newly refurbished bar at the City Hall may well have just missed one of those all too rare “I saw them as a support band” moments.
Cats In Space have been making quite a name for themselves over the last couple of years and with a growing reputation on the road with Deep Purple and Thunder, they have become something of a musthave touring partner.
It’s easy to see why, with their hugely infectious, melodic 70s style of progressive hard rock that sees them pulling in influences as diverse as Queen, ELO and Sweet with a delightful dose of the quirky Jellyfish sprinkled over for good measure.
Lush multi-layered harmonies shone brightly on Mad Hatter’s Tea Party and Greatest Story Never Told, while set closer Five Minute Celebrity nodded towards the raised defiant fist of KISS’s Flaming Youth.
This, in my opinion, was one of the finest support shows seen at the City Hall in many a year with Cats In Space delivering a classy headlining show in all but name.
Anyone expecting Quo sitting around strumming acoustic guitars may have been caught unawares as they stomped on stage to a very plugged-in and a most definitely electric Caroline, having decided on a change of plan from the original Aquostic shows to a full-blown rock show due to overwhelming demand from their fans.
Quo were certainly fired up for it right from the start as Something ‘Bout You Baby I Like and the vintage Rain locked into gear. Maybe it’s the intimate atmosphere of the City Hall or maybe new guy Richie Mallone has integrated more fully into the band since the sad loss of Quo legend Rick Parfitt – but whatever it was, the whole feel of the show was far more upbeat than last year’s performance at the Metro Radio Arena.
Bassist Rhino Edwards and long-time keyboardist/guitarist Andy Brown both stepped up to the microphone to take lead on Whatever You Want and Creepin’ Up On You while Brown’s vocals on Parfitt’s signature tune Don’t Drive My Car smoked with a raw bluesy edge. Francis Rossi, of course, was the star of the show with his wry wit and cheeky banter, trading blows with the crowd and loving every minute of it.
Rossi and new stage partner Malone gelled together like they’d been on stage together for years and Malone himself must take great credit for the unenviable task of stepping into Parfitt’s large shoes.
Quo had the crowd up and rocking in the aisles with the promised mix of huge hits, old classics and newer songs. Rain, Little Lady from 75’s On The Level and Softer Ride drew from the depths of their catalogue while The Oriental and Creepin’ Up On You brought some modern Quo to the proceedings.
A smart medley threw Railroad headlong into Down The Dustpipe and Again And Again. It was the hits however, that brought the biggest cheers from the crowd and how can you argue with the foot stomping Down Down, Whatever You Want and the evergreen Rockin’ All Over The World that had a thousand heads banging and air guitars strumming.
It was quite a sight and for one brief moment people were 16 years old all over again and that in a nutshell is the enduring power and popularity of rock ‘n’ roll – pure, unashamed escapism and Quo duly delivered.