Quo classics as they've never been heard before — Malcolm Dome reports on the band's one-off, stripped-back show at London's Roundhouse.
Quo acoustic? They’re getting old… Utter rot! This was far from the usual laid back, gentle acoustic stroll most bands adopt under these circumstances. Rossi, Parfitt et al stripped the songs back to the bone, but rebuilt them in such a fashion that they still rocked. The addition of a string quartet and an accordion gave them a different type of bite.
Hold on, an accordion? Hardly rock’n’roll. Definitely rock’n’roll. The way Martin Ditcham attacked his accordion made a lot of guitar heroes sound like they’re on life support. He was a clear highlight of the night, proving that, in the right hands, an accordion can be electrifying. And until you’ve heard Caroline and Down Down done on the accordion you ain’t heard anything!
But the crowd must have been bored watching Quo sitting down! Nope. Having everyone downstairs standing, as you’d expect at a normal Quo gig was a masterstroke. It had it all a dynamic atmosphere. There were regular chants of the usual ‘Quo-oh-oh-oh’, and everyone sung along to the classics, with no encouragement needed from the stage.
**But acoustic Quo must have exposed how limited the band’s writing skills are. **It did the opposite, making you realise that Quo have actually written timeless songs, the sort which can work in any environment. It made you respect them even more. People might think Paper Plane sounds like Mystery Song sounds like Don’t Drive My Car sounds like Whatever You Want. But here, the differences were accentuated, to massive effect. And the vocal harmonies were spot on.
**Still, bet they made everyone suffer Marguerita Time and Burning Bridges **Yep, they were both in the set, but worked a lot better than you might expect. Mind you, it helped that the crowd was almost in a Christmas party mood by the time Quo got to these towards the end of the night.
**And is it true they did Pictures Of Matchstick Men? Must have been a real low point **Normally, this comes across as a novelty 60s psychedelic pop wheeze, but here it had a gravitas and made you reconsider its value. Coming at the halfway point of the set, it was a real bridge between Down Down and Down The Dustpipe. Much more than a throwaway nod to the band’s earliest days.
So, they got away with it once… It was triumphant. Somebody on the way out said, “I wish they’d play acoustically all the time”. That won’t happen. But if this was a one-off then the band showed that, with thought and application, you can turn acoustic into the new boogie.
Watch highlights from the show on the BBC website.