STATUS QUO / WILKO JOHNSON BAND
Hammersmith Apollo – 31 March 2014
If any proof were needed that THIS was the place to see London’s best blues-rock of the night, running into ace Middlesex blues rockers The Flying Squad also en route to the venue set the seal on an evening of punchy no frills guitar rock…and some great singing..
He may be living on borrowed time but Wilko has the attack and drive of a twenty-year old. No, MORE energy than the average twenty-year-old. He strides on to the stage with Norm Wattt-Roy on bass and Dylan Howe on drums, clutching his red and black Telecaster and strafes the audience with dry comments, bursts of guitar, fast-chugging chords and gruff vocals. The crowd love it and he hammers out ‘Back In The Night’, ‘Goin’ Back Home’ and a stream of rock gems that warm everyone up as only Wilk can. His characteristic weave of chords and barbed single-note interjections creates a unique dynamic. Sadly he doesn’t include his ghostly mantra version of ‘Out On The Western Plain’ tonight but he does do my other favourite, the rock-reggae mystery that is ‘Doctor Dupree’. A stuttering jaunty masterpiece of a song. There can be few trios with such precise power and we are privileged to see this show.
Whatever you think of Quo these days, they show with these current dates how they have the ability to revisit their ‘Phase 2 ‘ as a terrific and inventive rock-blues group. I once saw then in the back room of The Castle pub in Tooting for half a pound in the currency then, the opening act being Mott The Hoople (now what ever happened to them ?) and I had forgotten how fine a singer bassist Alan Lancaster was back then…Rick Parfitt sings his heart out on the excellent song Rain and Francis Rossi is the pro he always is, singing well but playing demonic guitar (that old dirty green Telecaster ) and proving that he was a good as anyone on the sixstring back then and when he wants to be now as well….the crowd know the older songs and lap up the lurching chug of In My Chair and spiky opener Steamhammer’s cyclic rocket of a song Junior’s Wailing ; apart from originals the Quo remind us of their pumping take on the Doors’ RoadHouse Blues, dear Bob Young supplying the harp runs. Sargeant Jnr leans over – ‘NOW I see why you rate this band..’ he comments. April, Spring, Summer & Wednesdays has stood the test of time, a song with great mood and dynamics ; Little Lady works fine.
Nostalgia maybe, but a vibrant rootsy show of guitar power, muscular rhythm work and forceful vocals..glad we were there to enjoy it