You review! Kew The Music: Status Quo
Mike Watts finds that Status Quo still have what it takes to be rocking all over the world
Arriving at Kew The Music clasping two bottles of cold white wine and a folding chair, it was immediately clear that a little drizzle on a summer’s evening was not going to dampen the enthusiasm of the thousands of rock lovers who had converged on the Gardens to see Status Quo.
The stage was set out in front of the Temperate House and after a leisurely wander around looking at the Nash sculptures set in the Gardens, we found a spot to the right of the mixing desk and under the canopy of some exotic tree which – for the most part – cut out the rain and we settled down to listen to The Straits. They should have been called The Dire, more appropriately, because removing Mark Knopfler from Dire Straits has sadly diminished the stock of this once all-conquering band. Shadow, former and self are words that come to mind. “Sultans of Swing” noodled its way into oblivion and they were gone. But we weren’t here for the Straits, dire or otherwise. We were here for the mighty Quo!
Going back to 1975 – July again – to the Empire Pool Wembley (today’s Wembley Arena) to one of my first big gigs. It’s thirty-seven years since I have seen them live – although I did bump into Rick Parfitt in an elevator in Sydney in 1996 – but that doesn’t count and besides, he had a heart attack not long after.
So the question on my mind waiting for Quo to come on at Kew was how had they fared in the interim? Sure, we’ve all seen the band on the small screen but rock concerts are about the visceral live experience, the thump of the kick-drum and the bass hitting you in the chest – and all that.
Status Quo rocked the stage and never disappointed, despite having had some apparent constraint placed on volume levels by the neighbours of Kew Gardens – not that I noticed it being particularly quiet. What a great back catalogue they have to plunder! They were definitely playing the same songs as they did in 1975 plus all the newer hits that they’ve written since then. They delved heavily into my favourite album of theirs, Hello, from 1973, which is a rock classic.
So, despite the fact that Francis Rossi appears to have lost his pony tail and I fell over someone’s picnic – drunk – there remains several things to say about Status Quo:
1) They are a good-time band and there were plenty of cheesy grins adorning the mainly middle-aged crowd’s faces.
2) Status Quo were never too cool for school, except when they were an obscure psychedelic band in the late sixties.
3) They know how to rock – or at least how to boogie and that includes knowing how to marshal five white Marshall amps
and five white four-by-twelve speaker cabs to provide the perfect power-chord wall of sound. And that was set-up of just one of the three guitarists.
4) They’ve been doing it a long, long time and if they hadn’t got their act together by now (which they most certainly have) then there would be no hope for any of us of getting anything together, ever.