Soundcheck | Live | June 1984 | Photo: PG Brunelli
THE GAUMONT, IPSWICH
Heard the one about when Status Quo learnt a lot of new chords? They all sounded exactly the same. Ha bloody ha. The simplicity of the Quo rock rhythm is a perpetual target, yet it is unmistakeable and, more to the point, highly effective.
The opening scene is from "Close Encounters Of A Third Kind". Banks of lights at the back radiate their torture – gradually on, gradually off. Ever brighter white, they're hot enough to roast the eyes of the 1,600 upturned faces.
What follows is predictable. First "Caroline" and then "Paper Plane" signals the start of a two-and-a-half hour slog riddled with hit singles and slices from dusty LPs. "Whatever You Want", "Rain", "Big Fat Mama", "Backwater"...
Rossi, Parfitt and Lancaster weave from stage right to stage left, taking up interchangeable guitar hero stances. On occasions, the gleesome threesome come together in the centre as if to do battle with their instruments. There are no victors here, but birthday boy Rossi comes out on top in the vocal stakes, despite obvious problems with his well-worn voice.
For their part, the audience bounce and roll, miming every note and singing every word. They even seem to enjoy "Forty Five Hundred Times". Long rock songs are fine when they maintain direction, but this version gets lost in a one-way system.
Status Quo are hardly flavour of the month. They taste of a year some time a decade or so ago – and quite right too. Preaching to the converted is child's play, but it still takes effort. In the final reckoning, it's top marks for sheer unadulterated entertainment.
You can bet your bottom pound coin that these guys will continue to worm their way into record collections. Keeping the status quo is a British national pastime and, like it or not, that won't change. Which probably says more about us than them.