Stripped bare

Rachel Watts looks forward to a basic evening with Status Quo.

Status Quo shouldn’t need any introduction; fast approaching their fiftieth anniversary, they’ve had hits in every decade since the 60’s. It’s a feat you can’t imagine many other bands managing to achieve.

It’s hard to explain exactly why they have achieved such longevity, but ever-loyal fans continue to turn up at sell-out gigs across the UK and Europe.

For those that don’t know the history of the band, 2013 and 2014 were exceptionally good for hard core fans, when the arguably better known members, Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt reunited with original members, drummer John Coghlan and bassist Alan Lancaster, for a series of reunions gigs, performing under the banner of the Frantic Four. Performing tracks from their glory years, with no gimmicks or cheesy singles, they proved without a shadow of a doubt, that they had earned their place as one of Britain’s best live rock and roll bands.

With such successful tours, followed by the release of the Frantic Four Final Fling DVD, you can’t blame the fans for expecting, wanting, or at least hoping for, a new harder, rockier, Frantic Four album, rather than a softer, poppier Status Quo one, performed by the current line-up.

At one point there was talk amongst the fans of the possibility of the two versions of the band co-existing, touring and recording separately, but realistically, any further Frantic Four tours seem unlikely.

What fans did get, towards the end of 2014 was the release of a new Quo album of reworked tracks; The appropriately titled Aquostic (stripped Bare), peaked at number five in the album chart, their best place since 1996, and saw the band reach a combined total of 500 weeks in the album charts, something only around fifty other bands have ever managed.

Aquostic takes some of Quo’s best known hits, and as the title suggests, sees them stripped down and performed on acoustic guitars. Doubters could be forgiven for thinking that this might not be a great idea, but in actual fact, the majority of the songs seem to work perfectly in the new format. There are lesser known tracks, Nanana, And It’s Better Now, Claudie, sitting alongside more familiar tracks such as Caroline, Down Down, and of course, Rocking All Over the World.

Some tracks don’t seem to have altered too drastically, whereas tracks like Again and Again and Don’t Drive My Car are vastly different in both arrangement and tempo, and with the latter, it’s a definite improvement on the original.

Even Marguerita Time, which many see as (or even blame for) the end of the Frantic Four’s golden era, seems fine in its new state. It may never be everyone’s favourite, but it is decidedly less offensive now.

Which such a successful album, a tour was only to be expected, and this week they started a six date UK tour performing the full Aquostic album, accompanied on stage by backing singers, and a whole host of musicians providing violins, cello, percussion, and even accordion, that are heard throughout the album.

On Thursday 24th April Quo come back to the Midlands, playing at the Wolverhampton Civic – just as they did on the reunion tours, with support being provided by Birmingham-based cult skiffle cow punk band Terry and Gerry, who reformed in honour of their biggest fan, the late John Peel.

Most venues on this short tour are now sold out, but there are some available for the Civic and also be sure to get a copy of Aquostic – Live at The Roundhouse, which this week hit the number one spot in the music DVD charts.

For tickets go to the official web site