Category Archives: Concert Reviews

Status Quo – Live at the BIC (09.12.16)

So, to resurrect this blog, I’m going to review Status Quo’s performance at the BIC on their ‘Last Night of the Electrics’ tour. This was advertised as Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt’s swansong tour but, following Parfitt’s ill health, Rossi is now the sole face of Quo, leading the band into the acoustic age.

Having a fair journey from work to Bournemouth, we missed almost all of ‘The Lounge Kittens’ so I’ll let others comment on them. They were singing a Queen medley as we arrived. It didn’t sound bad but that’s about all I can say.

Following on were REO Speedwagon. I’m guessing they’re a band that appeared to match up well to a standard Quo fit. Plenty of classic rock poses and a loud rock sound seemed to go down well. I must admit I drew a blank for most of the set until ‘Keep On Loving You’ was played which I did know. All in all, not bad but I’m not sure that I’d rush back for round two.

Following on from Speedwagon, was of course the main event: The Quo.

First up was of course the main issue: Quo’s last tour sees them down to one ‘original’ member in Francis Rossi. Although what Andy Bown has to do to qualify, I’m not quite sure. So, was Rick missed? In a word: Yes. It wasn’t the same. I’m not old enough to remember the days of Lancaster et al and I wasn’t sure that I could understand all the feelings that went on. What I do know is that I did miss Rick. There was a point in the gig, during The Oriental, where it appeared that Rossi was talking to or dancing with an invisible Rick. And, many other Quo trademarks – the dancing in Rain and Whatever You Want, for example, was missing. The largest part, Rick’s rocking presence and pose – down on the edge of the stage, was also a huge gap.

This brings me nicely on to Richie. Am I anti then? No. Richie is clearly a talented guitarist and plays well. He’s sympathetic to the Quo sound and did his very best. It was clear that he gets on well with the band and got more of an intro than Matt Letley got a send-off from Francis. He wasn’t Rick – and couldn’t be – but he clearly did his best and has the talent. Rain was the one song I noticed that really didn’t have the Rick sound but generally a well done. Plenty of us would love to be invited to join the band on stage so enjoy!

Then, onto the set. I’ve never complained about the set before but this is the first time that I’ve been to see a set where I’d seen every song before. I enjoyed it and it’s only a minor gripe but I did spend the whole gig just hoping that there’d be one treat. Even something like ‘Break The Rules’ which hasn’t made the electric set for a few years would have made my night complete. As a note, Rhino and Andy shared out most of Rick’s vocals and did much better than I thought. Having heard Rhino on YouTube and Andy on the Hyde Park vid, I was unconvinced but, in the flesh, both rocked out well. Perhaps live is more forgiving than video.

Overall, the band seemed to be having fun and I enjoyed the gig. There were lots of laughs on stage – especially around the medley- and the band was as tight and professional as ever. It was sad that Rick wasn’t there and, if this does prove to be the last electric tour, than that’s a hole that will never be filled. Also, if the setlist is never to be changed than perhaps that’s the surest sign that the time for the end has come – let’s rock out and move on. Acoustic next year anyone?

Status Quo – Live at the BIC – 7/10

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Queen + Adam Lambert – Live in Kiev

On 30th June 2012 Queen played their first gig with American star, Adam Lambert, in Kiev, Ukraine. Ever since the British rock group performed with Lambert on American Idol in 2009 there has been talk of further work together. This year that promise came to fruition. The first gig the band played was in Kiev, Ukraine – where the band have previously worked to publicize an anti-aids message.

In many ways the setlist and shape of the evening did not stray far from the model that the band established with previous singer, Paul Rodgers. Lambert belted through a series of the expected hits – “I Want It All”, “Radio GaGa” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” whilst also giving space for Brian’s rendition of “Love Of My Life” and Roger’s “A Kind Of Magic”. The traditional drum solo (with added contribution from Rufus Taylor) and guitar solo also feature.

However, it would be wrong to say that there has been no change since 2008. Unlike Paul Rodgers, Lambert supplies none of his own material and this means that there is also more space for other Queen classics, including “Who Wants To Live Forever” and a medley of 70s classics “Seven Seas Of Rhye” and “Keep Yourself Alive”. Lambert also tackles “Somebody To Love” and “Don’t Stop Me Now” – tracks that would have fallen outside the scope of the former Free frontman. Similarly Lambert skips the heavy rocking “Tie Your Mother Down” and “Hammer To Fall” that were highlights of Q+PR performances.

Brian and Roger’s performances are as polished as ever throughout the show. Just like 2005 and 2008, the band give Lambert a perfect live karaoke backing for him to sing across – the pure Queen sound is there throughout. Spike Edney is once again on keys but there is no room for Jamie Moses and Danny Miranda is replaced on bass. The more than able Rufus Taylor is drafted in to give his dad a helping hand!

Now to comment on Lambert. Prior to doing so I will state my bias, I am obviously a fan of the original line-up but am also a big fan of Paul Rodgers work with the band. Prior to seeing this I wanted to dislike Lambert’s performance for being a television show star and American etc. But, I don’t mind it. Lambert has a voice which has a similar range and style to Mercury and is closer to him than Paul Rodgers was or tried to be. Lambert can touch material Paul couldn’t and gives generally enjoyable renditions – this is a gig that I could enjoy. However, for me I do still prefer Paul out of the two. I liked the fact that Rodgers’ voice is so different to Mercury’s; this helped him put his own stamp on the material. He was also able to bring his own songs to the mix which Lambert doesn’t.

Overall this performance was enjoyable enough and I certainly wouldn’t be adverse to seeing the band should they decide to tour again. Lambert gives decent performances but they are a bit close to Freddie’s to me – more like a musical-show interpretation rather than a new band singer. The setlist is pretty much as expected but it’s good to see that the band have managed to squeeze in some material not dusted off on the last two tours. To sum Q+AL up, I’d say not great, but definitely good.

Queen + Adam Lambert – Live in Kiev 6/10

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Brian Setzer – Live at Brixton Academy (24.07.11)

On Sunday night my girlfriend and I joined the queues outside the famous Brixton Academy to see Brian Setzer’s Rockabilly Riot. At 7pm the doors opened and we quickly grabbed a spot in front of the sound desk and looked forward to the evening ahead.

The first band out was the new rockabilly group The Caezars. A four-piece group boasting a talented guitarist in Danny “O”, the band struggled against a poor sound set-up meaning that I could not make out a single word sung in any of the songs. This was a frustration shared by the second support act the highly rated Jim Jones Revue. The Revue’s lead singer, Jim Jones, decided to take this out on the audience however! Getting frustrated with a lack of audience participation (in no small part due to the fact that we couldn’t make out any of the lyrics!) he ended up criticising us for wanting to see Brian Setzer more than we wanted to see him! Overall, neither support act impressed me greatly and I think they both missed fundamental tricks on the rockabilly scene, such as having a sprinkling of standards in the set list.

Following half an hour’s set-up time, Johnny Hatton and Noah Levy strode onto the stage to huge applause. Seconds later the opening riff to “Ignition” rang out and the crowd took the roof off of the joint as the king of rockabilly, Brian Setzer, took control! In the first set Setzer played a mix of rockabilly standards, such as “Put Your Cat-Clothes On”, and tracks from his solo career – “8-Track” and “This Cat’s On A Hot Tin Roof”. The musicianship throughout the set was storming and the whole band shone on tracks from Setzer’s new album, Setzer Goes Instru-MENTAL.

At the beginning of the second set Brian Setzer announced that the guitar he was playing was first used for Stray Cats in the 19080’s and to go with it he had brought a ‘spare Stray Cat’ – Slim Jim Phantom! With a new bass player – Chris D’Rozario – on stage, the band kicked through a selection of Stray Cats classics such as “Rumble In Brighton”, “Runaway Boys” and “Stray Cat Strut”. The crowd was clearly buoyed by this selection and the presence of two members of the 1980’s rockabilly giants. Special note has to go to D’Rozario who I thought was awesome on the bass. No disrespect to Johnny Hatton, but I felt that D’Rozario had a rockabilly style right up there with Mark Winchester and Lee Rocker.

The only low-point of the set for my girlfriend and I was the fact that we had to sneak out of the gig during “Red Hot” for fear of missing the last tube back to our hotel!

Overall Brian Setzer and both of his bands put on a hi-octane storming set. The sound was spot-on for Setzer’s set, making it a vast improvement on the sound at the Stray Cats gig in Zurich ’08. The quality of Brian’s playing was awe-inspiring, as was that of his bands. The set was a good mix of rockabilly standards, Stray Cats classics and highlights of Brian’s solo career and orchestra. It was nice to see Slim-Jim again and I can’t wait for the next time the rockabilly riot hits town!

Article first published as Concert Review: Brian Setzer’s Rockabilly Riot, Brixton Academy, 7/24/11 on Blogcritics

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Status Quo – Live at Plymouth Pavillions (21.11.10)

On Sunday I headed down to Plymouth with a friend and some of his family for what would be my second Status Quo gig following the Plymouth gig on the Pictures Tour 09.

I hadn’t been a particular fan of Quo prior to that gig in 09 but knew most of the major songs. However that night left me a burning fan and I was desperate to see them again when I knew a bit more about the band: last Sunday was my chance!

Largely on my suggestion, we left Exeter early, about 5.30 and as a result got into the Pavilions about 40 mins before the doors opened. This gave us plenty of time to buy t-shirts and soak up the pre-gig atmosphere. When the doors opened at 7.oo we picked a spot towards the back of the standing as the group I was with didn’t really fancy joining the crush.

At 7.30 on the dot the supporting act, The Crave, came out. They were a young heavy rock band boasting the traditional two guitars, bass and drums and promoting their new album Breaking the Silence. They worked hard in their half hour slot, gaining fans in the crowd and showing off a high level of accomplishment on the guitars. However, I must admit they weren’t really to my taste, a bit too heavy for me and I wasn’t that keen on the modern vocal style. Also I found the sound levels a little out for them and struggled to make out any of the lyrics to the tracks.

After The Crave’s half hour set, the stage was cleared and black cloths removed to reveal the customary white of the Quo set-up. I must say at this point just how large Letley’s drumkit appeared to be under it’s blanket – my friend claimed that there must be some form of Dr Who monster under there!

Again on the dot, the drone began! At this point the growing crowd burst into life and the atmosphere went up the notch! Cheers resounded as Quo took to the stage and, following a quick bow, the opening riff to Caroline soon rang out! I don’t know if its just me but it maybe didn’t quite have the punch I expected, the performance was solid though and it was followed by a superb Something Bout You Baby I Like.

I won’t go through the set in detail as that can be found elsewhere so I’ll now give some general feelings on the gig. Firstly, I must congratulate Parfitt and Rossi on their excellent showmanship. Perhaps in many ways people would argue they have become cliches, but I really enjoyed all the traditional Quo moves from the band lined up in Softer Ride to the swinging guitars in Whatever You Want. Rossi’s banter with the crowd was excellent and lead to a surreal convo about Jelly Babies! I also really appreciate Rhino, headbanging through the entire set and always trying to make contact with the fans.

About the setlist, I know its been a bone of contention amongst Quo fans for years but I really enjoyed the choice of songs. As a newer fan there were some songs I wasn’t familiar with (and promptly bought!) such as Railroad and Rollin Home, both in the Mystery Medley. Also, I found I appreciated some songs that I really wasn’t a fan of before; primarily The Oriental, a song that I didn’t really like prior to the gig I found totally taken by when that drumbeat and the crowd handclapping, lead by Rhino, kicked in. Also I must say hats off to the band for what I thought was a cracking Paper Plane. Just prior to PP came a superb drum solo by Letley and everyone I spoke to after the gig mentioned it as a highlight.

Another pro for me was the sound. I’ve been to several gigs in the past (Stray Cats and Queen + PR) where I have found the sound to be a real letdown: the drums and bass were so loud that they wiped everything else out in a sea of rhythmic noise. Not so with Quo. They were loud, but not too loud, and most importantly of all the lead instruments were clear. I could make out the words to songs and each note of the guitar solos: my sonic heaven!

A final congratulation must go the light show! Impressive without being overbearing, it helped give a great atmosphere to the gig and I felt it was most effective during the start to Caroline and the drum solo. I’m sure there was another point where it impressed me but I can’t remember exactly where now!

Overall, the gig was fantastic, the band were tight and professional and showed their consummate ability as expert showmen. Both the sound and the lights were superb and really added to an all round excellent performance.

Status Quo – Live at Plymouth Pavilions: 8/10

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