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  STATUS QUO AND CATS IN SPACE GIVE GLASGOW WHATEVER THEY WANT DURING TRADITIONAL FESTIVE SHOW
Status Quo/Cats In Space, The Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow


johnny main
Words: Johnny Main, Pictures: Carlan Braid
12th December 2017


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"It's Christmas Time" crooned Quo stalwarts Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt back in December 2008 and every year around this time, the Quo tour bus makes its way around the UK as part of their Winter Tour.

This year's tour would be different in a lot of ways, not least because of the death of Rick on Christmas Eve last year, the fallout from which has split an already splintered fan base.

To be honest, Quo fans haven't been a single voice for many years now. There are two factions here, "The Hardcore" as Francis refers to them, who hark back to those halcyon days in the Seventies when Quo were a hard rocking four piece, the so-called "Frantic Four", and were one of Britain's hardest rocking bands.

Then you have those younger fans most of whom were brought up on the "new" Quo of the Eighties – a different beast altogether with a more synthesised, dare I say it, pop-orientated sound.

These two very different groups seem to be at war everyday, choosing Internet forums and Facebook groups to play out their battles. Each group can be ruthless in their attitude to those who have a differing opinion to their own as well as being surly and sometimes even abusive towards each other and, on occasions, even band members.

Rick's death polarised these groups even further – with calls from some to Francis, as the last remaining original member, to quit using the Status Quo name altogether and continue to tour under a different name, while others think he's every right to continue as he has been doing for the past fifty plus years.

Francis has spoken many times in the press about Rick's death, acknowledging it by adding in two Rick penned songs, 'Don't Drive My Car' and 'Little Lady', into this year's set, and the band play on in the best sense of the phrase mixing acoustic shows with electric shows around the UK and mainland Europe.

As they rolled up to Glasgow's Clyde Auditorium (affectionately known as the Armadillo) although not a sell-out, it was busy enough as the time ticked towards stage time.

This year's special guests were the British power pop rock band Cats In Space who are having a huge twelve months.

With appearances at Ramblin' Man Fair, the British Summer Time (BST) Festival in Hyde Park and the Fairport Cropredy Convention under their belt in the two years since their formation along with support tours with Thunder, Deep Purple and now Status Quo bringing them into prominence.

These live shows are backed up by two excellent albums, 2015's 'Too Many Gods' and 'Scarecrow' which was released earlier this year.

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This is my third time seeing the quintet (twice in the last three months) and every time I see them they just get better and better. Afforded a stage slot of sixty minutes, the band drew a healthy crowd and it wasn't long until the good time vibes of the band have the audience smiling and, in some cases, nodding and singing along.

Tracks 'Too Many Gods' and 'Mr Heartache' from their debut release mixed seamlessly with newer material 'Mad Hatters Tea Party' and 'Timebomb', which received loud applause from the growing audience in what was a supreme performance – but then you expect nothing less from a band with the experience of Cats – some 50 years plus according to front man Paul Manzi.

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Talking of Paul, he's such a prodigious talent as are guitarists Greg Hart and Dean Howard whose solos shine on their own before merging into a glorious duet.

Without a doubt, though, the highlight of their set has to be 'The Greatest Story Never Told'. Bass player Jeff Brown steps up to the mic sharing the vocals with Paul and once the slower section has been negotiated, the band puts the pedal to the metal as the song really takes off with Greg and Dean performing exceptional guitar solos during the faster rockier part.

The greatest song they ever wrote – so far, but there's plenty more to come from them I'm sure.

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Cats In Space Set List:
Too Many Gods
Mad Hatters Tea Party
Timebomb
Scars
Mr Heartache
Greatest Story Never Told
Five Minute Celebrity

Cats In Space are:
Paul Manzi – Vocals/Guitars
Greg Hart – Guitars/Vocals
Dean Howard – Guitars/Vocals
Jeff Brown – Bass Guitar/Vocals
Andy Stewart – Keyboards
Steevi Bacon – Drums


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Quo last played the Armadillo back in 2005 on their XS All Areas Tour, and many things have changed since they were last there.

For drummer Leon Cave and guitarist Richie Malone it's the first Quo show at the venue. Everything was as it should be as the lights go down and the band's intro, 'The Drone' played out before Francis finally breaks cover first as the band kicked off their set with 'Caroline' as they've done for, well, years.

The Quo set seems to have stopped evolving about twenty years ago, with the exception of this year where the two tracks honouring Rick meant the loss of live staples 'The Wanderer', 'Gerdundula' and thankfully the drum solo – no offence to Leon who's a gifted drummer, but drum solos bore the life out of me.

Richie handled the lead vocals well on 'Little Lady' while the rest of Rick's vocals were shared between bass player John 'Rhino' Edwards and Andy Bown who swapped between keyboards, guitar and occasionally harmonica.

Rick's presence and power on the rhythm guitar is missed as Richie doesn't have the same authority, but he gives it his best shot and he's a more than capable musician with a very bright future ahead of him.

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We did still have to trudge through 'Creepin' Up On You' for the umpteenth time and the interminable dirge of 'In The Army Now' is still hanging in there and I can understand the latter, given that it was a Top 5 single back in 1986, but it's a song I've never been a fan of live.

Still, it slows the pace giving 68-year-old Francis a breather and allows for a bit of audience participation in the "oh oh oh" bits. Don't get me wrong, Francis is no old codger and he's remarkably fit as he bounds up and down the stage throughout the set, smiling and interacting with the audience while his guitar playing is top notch throughout the set.

Of course the classic Quo hits of the Seventies hits were there to be checked off, 'What You're Proposing', 'Roll Over Lay Down', 'Down Down', 'Whatever You Want' and the ubiquitous 'Rockin' All Over the World' with some later hits like 'Beginning of the End' and 'Burning Bridges' filling out the rest of the set.

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Whatever you think about Status Quo, they give you an electrifying performance that's up there with the best of them. Sure there's no fancy lights, no fireworks and no gimmicks to sell their stage show, but you get hard graft from the band, quality songs you know and, let's be honest, it's a great night out.

Status Quo Set List:
Caroline
Something 'bout You Baby I Like
Rain
Little Lady
Softer Ride
Beginning of the End
Hold You Back
What You're Proposing/Down the Dustpipe/Wild Side of Life/Railroad/Again and Again
Paper Plane
The Oriental
Creepin' Up on You
Don't Drive My Car
In the Army Now
Roll Over Lay Down
Down Down
Whatever You Want
Rockin' All Over the World
Don't Waste My Time
Burning Bridges (On and Off and on Again)
Rock and Roll Music/Bye Bye Johnny

Status Quo are:
Francis Rossi – Vocals/Guitar
Andrew Bown – Keyboards/Guitar/Backing Vocals
John Rhino Edwards – Bass Guitar/Backing Vocals
Richie Malone – Guitar/Backing Vocals
Leon Cave – Drums/Backing Vocals

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