My final gig of this year, Quo at their 2010 visit from the tour that pretty much never ends, it just changes its name from time to time.
As ever, there was a huge range of ages in the crowd with pretty much all groups covered – people (or parents thereof) I spoke to there ranged from 8 to 73, and all thoroughly enjoyed themselves on what many there described as the best gig and set Quo have played for a long time – even the guy next to me who has seen Quo since the mid ‘70s agreed.
Not that everything was perfect, particularly Rick’s voice which seemed to be struggling much of the evening – one audience member did ponder whether Rick had accidentally come to the stage sober 😉 It did sound as though he might have a bit of a cold (fingers crossed it’s that rather than anything more serious vocally-speaking).
But even aside from Rick’s voice, which to be fair did hold up for the entire performance and was still better than some other acts out there, the gig itself was great, from the opening of Caroline right through to the traditional Bye Bye Johnny ending, the band were as tight and professional as ever. There was even some sort of set this time, comprising 9 large LED-style slabs behind the band used variously to display animations or just slabs of colour, together with a well co-ordinated lighting rig – sometimes focusing on one member of the band, sometimes waving round like searchlights, and sometimes sweeping across the stage in grouped waves.
Sound quality was excellent, vocals and guitars all crisp and clear. And as for that powerful bass opening drone at the start of Whatever You Want – trouser-flapping is the only way to describe it! The set itself was a nice mix from some older songs (including a rare outing for For You) through to the inevitable performance of the current single In The Army Now, although I was happy to note they played their original arrangement rather than the reworked single version. Alas they didn’t play Burning Bridges, but then again with a back catalogue of around 15 billion titles, they can never play everyone’s wishlist, and the set they did play was comprehensive enough to have them on stage for over 100 minutes.
I think the biggest disappointment for me was the audience, however. They were good, they enjoyed it, but they didn’t seem anywhere near as lively as past Quo gig’s I’ve been to; there were very few people jumping up and down and really getting into it. Perhaps it was just because I was near the back of the B block in the arena? And when the band went off after Rocking All Over The World, there was very little in the way of the usual chanting and shouts and handclaps to bring the band back for the inevitable encore – this was very much commented upon by a German fan with whome I travelled back to Paddington afterwards who observed that in German Quo gigs, the shouts to bring the band back are almost deafening, yet here it was very restrained. Maybe people are getting fed up on the whole “Goodbye, oh, you want an encore?” routine from bands these days – we all know they’ll be back, so why not take the opportunity to have a rest for a couple of moments, perhaps?
But overall, it was definitely an excellent gig, widely agreed amongst those I spoke to afterwards as being Quo’s best for many years, and a great way to round off a year of gigs.
Oh, and finally, just an observation that the O2 Arena management could learn a thing or two from Wembley / Quo – the band were advertised as taking to the stage at 8:45 and finishing at 10:30. Now, as I’ve discovered to my cost, when they say that at the O2 the times can be anything up to half an hour out, making transport back impossible to plan; here, however, Quop took to the stage bang on 8:45, and they finished their final bow bang on 10:30 – it’s little things like that sort of attention to detail which highlight the professionals, and which make it easier for those of us travelling to plan our journey home without being stranded or having to miss the last few numbers!
Well done Wembley, and well done Quo – see you again next year, I have no doubt.
Setlist – Caroline, Something ‘bout You Baby I Like, Break The Rules, Mean Girl, Softer Ride, 4500 Times, Hold You Back, Beginning Of The End, Mystery Song Medley (including Mystery Song, Railroad, Wild Side Of Life, Rollin’ Home, Again and Again), Oriental, Creeping Up On You, For You, In The Army Now, Drum Solo, Paper Plane, Roll Over, Down Down, Whatever You Want, Rocking All Over The World, Don’t Waste My Time, Rock And Roll Music, Bye Bye Johnny.