Status Quo Live at The SSE Arena
It’s a dedicated audience who’ve gathered in Belfast’s SSE Arena tonight for Quo’s ‘Last Night of the Electrics’ tour. Given that guitarist Rick Parfitt’s recent health issues mean he’s missing this tour the band were quick to offer refunds to fans who felt they were unable to go, but tonight the still denim clad, grey-haired Quo army has gathered to see their heroes play their last electric set in Belfast.
The opening riff of ‘Caroline’ played note perfectly by Irish guitarist and Parfitt substitute Richie Malone gets things started and, while it is note perfect there is a noticeable difference in sound. Wearing his traditional waistcoat, Francis Rossi takes to the stage with undiminished enthusiasm. His lead playing is a sharp as ever and his crowd interactions just the same as they were 29 years ago when we first saw the band play in Belfast’s now defunct Maysfield Leisure Centre.
The hits follow. ‘Something About You Baby I Like’, ‘Rain’ (featuring John Edwards on lead vocal) and ‘Softer Ride’ all give nods to the band’s past and their enduring legacy of being suppliers of good time boogie.
On stage, Rossi banters away with long time bass player John Edwards and at times there is a very obvious Rick Parfitt sized hole on the stage. His harmony vocals are shared between Edwards and keyboard player Andy Bown, who notably rises to the occasion on ‘Whatever You Want’. Bown, who’s been in Quo since the mid-1970s also gets to prowl the stage adding extra rhythm guitar and harmonica during a medley of some of the band’s most famous songs.
While Rossi has the band power through the set list as if there were no tomorrow, there is a certain amount of finality about this show. The classic “Frantic Four” lineup of the band reunited in 2013 and completed two farewell tours to great acclaim. Tonight, along with the breaking news that Parfitt will not return to the band and Rossi’s close-cropped hair, one the biggest things missing is Rossi’s famous 1957 green telecaster.
After 46 years of service and due to the fact it can no longer be kept in tune it has also left the band and been replaced by a new custom-built green Status graphite guitar.
Still, there’s life in the old dogs yet as ‘Paper Plane’, ‘Down Down’ and the crowd-pleasing ‘Rockin’ All Over The World’ show.
In all, the band delivered a slick set of crowd-pleasing boogie that was heavy on the hits and light on the Quo.