At The Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle, U.K., December 22, 2016

Francis Rossi, Richie Malone and Rhino Edwards from STATUS QUO (Live at The Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle, U.K., December 22, 2016)
Photo: Mick Burgess

The last time American Melodic Rockers REO Speedwagon graced a stage in Newcastle the first mobile phone call had just been made, EastEnders aired for the very first time on television, the year long Miner’s Strike came to an incongruous end and Live Aid brought the plight of African famine to the world’s attention. Quite a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then.

REO Speedwagon have been unfairly maligned over the years, accused of epitomising American Soft Rock and over reliant on ballads. Yet for a band approaching their half century mark together their catalogue stretches back farther than you’d care to know capturing a band with a much harder edge.

Rather like Styx, on stage that harder edge comes to the fore with Don’t Let Him Go and Take It On The Run from their squillion selling Hi-Infidelity opus benefiting from some seriously heavy guitar treatment as guitarist Dave Amato’s solo during the latter peeled the paint from the Arena’s roof. Let’s face it Take It On The Run is just about the perfect arena Rocker from the golden age of AOR.

Of course a ballad or two is chucked into the mix. How could they show up without playing Keep On Loving You and Can’t Fight This Feeling? However, the short and ultimately punchy set was kept on the track by Ridin’ The Storm Out and Keep Pushin’.

With their tight harmonies, soaring melodies and insanely catchy choruses REO Speedwagon more than made up for their overlong absence with a supremely classy performance and the glance between original keyboardist Neal Doughty and long-time lead singer Kevin Cronin after Roll With The Changes was the sign of a band who had absolutely nailed it.

Status Quo need absolutely no introduction. There can’t be a person anywhere that can’t immediately identify the three chord, twelve bar boogie Rock’n’Roll that has become such an indelible fabric of their DNA.

Quo however are at something of a crossroads. With a recent tour of the “Frantic Four” bringing closure to the original classic line up that disbanded back in 1982, the news that stalwart Rick Parfitt has been forced to retire from touring due to health reasons has shaken the very foundations of a band who have been around for what seems like forever. Is it possible that this tour could mark the end of Quo as we know it?

There was something reassuringly familiar about Caroline with its trade mark head down no nonsense boogie being the perfect show opener. With Irishman Richie Malone stepping into Parfitt’s rather large shoes normal service was resumed. Well almost.

Parfitt’s cheeky onstage rapport with Francis Rossi and their telepathic communication built up after almost half a century together was sadly missing and absolutely nothing could replace that but Malone, to his credit did a sterling job even down to using the trademark Telecaster.

Quo’s repertoire seems split into two distinct parts, the 70’s Hard Rock era beloved of the double denim brigade and that from the ’80’s onwards that headed in a more commercial direction. So while The Wanderer and Burning Bridges left the old Rockers rather bemused, they soon picked up with Roll Over Lay Down, Rain and Paper Plane.

Even the most cynical music snob couldn’t fail to tap their foot or nod their head to vintage classics Down Down, Whatever You Want and the evergreen Rockin’ All Over The World and just one glance around the packed Arena saw a crowd of all ages and all musical tastes united in Quo paradise.

Quo may never win awards for breaking new musical ground, they may never be heralded as the coolest band on the block but who cares? Music is meant to be fun and fun this was. Lots of fun. Even those reluctant attendees were rocking in the aisles by the time the Rock and Roll Music/Bye Bye Johnny mini-medley brought the show to a rip roaring end.

Whether this is indeed the end of Quo as an electric touring band, at least they can say they went out with a triumphant bang.

Photos and Review By MICK BURGESS


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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