Status Quo / REO Speedwagon - O2 Dome, London (UK) - 11 December 2016
This tour was announced as 'The Last Night Of The Electrics' because founding members Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt were to downgrade to acoustic only shows for all future tours. However, in June guitarist Rick Parfitt suffered a heart attack and shortly after he took the decision to retire from all live duties with Quo (tragically Parfitt was sadly taken from us just a few weeks after I attended this show). Not wanting to let fans down, Rossi decided to continue, bringing in guitar player Richie Malone as replacement.
When you have a support act like Reo Speedwagon you certainly have to up your game. The band tear on stage to the familiar opener of 'Don't Let Him Go'. Singer and guitarist Kevin Cronin is all smiles and lightning energy as he races around the stage trading guitar licks with lead guitar player Dave Amato. The hits just keep coming – 'Take It On The Run', 'Keep On Loving You', 'Can't Fight This Feeling' – all classics of American and UK radio. Certainly at the beginning, the audience politely applaud, but by the halfway mark, everyone is clapping and singing along. Cronin introduces many of the songs with a short story and explains how the British bands influenced them so much. His singing voice may have lost a little range but his enthusiasm for being on stage is contagious. 'Son Of A Poor Man' and 'Back On The Road Again' (featuring bass player Bruce Hall on vocals) are as near to deep cuts as you're going to get in this short support slot, so let's hope a European headlining tour is on the cards.
It could somewhat be argued that this is a Rossi solo band in all but name now, and the show begins with the familiar intro to 'Caroline' and the 02 crowd greet them affectionately. Certainly the band sound on top form, as they effortlessly run into 'The Wanderer' with accompanying vocals from keyboard player Andy Bown. 'Something 'Bout You Baby I Like' is one of many surprises to the set-list this evening. It's only when long term bass player Rhino Edwards staggers to the microphone to sing 'Rain' (while pulling faces at the audience) that you realise things have gone wrong. The missing dynamic between Rossi and Parfitt has robbed the band of their very soul and sadly Rhino is no replacement! Rossi hardly misses a beat on stage, looking comfortable in himself and still playing a mean guitar during 'Roll Over Lay Down', though at times he does look a little lost on the stage without his musical compadre. The Quo medley robs the songs of their original potency, though I loved having the whole band stage front for a stripped down version of 'Gerundula' where upon they get to interact together with some amusing results. 'In The Army Now' is the one song visually where Parfitt is not missed, as the familiar two Rocking fender telecasters have no place here. It may be now Rossi finally gets to take Quo in a more commercial direction, in that he is solely steering the ship.
It was quite apparent that the audience enjoyed the show and I am sure no one felt let down from this performance, though for this long-time fan of Quo, it really is the end of the road.