Cockney charm is the order of the evening as Chas ‘n’ Dave, complete with a brass section, launch into their unique brand of Music Hall-esque comedy rock with Gertcha. Quite where they sit in today’s musical climate is immaterial as their infectious silliness has the audience – regardless of age – a least raising a smile. Plonking them on a corner of the stage in front of a curtain gives the air of a low-budget play, but as they work their way through singles such as London Girls, Rabbit and Ain’t No Pleasing You, they manage to keep an entire arena entertained.
In keeping with the air of a West End show, there’s an interval – a rare occurrence at a rock concert. A silhouetted Rick Parfitt then appears behind a curtain, striking poses to a ringing chord. It turns out this is the most theatrics we’ll be treated to all night, but as the Quo get straight down to business by launching into Caroline, it’s clear that their loud, bluesy sound can still carry a performance without any gimmicky staging.
There are no fireworks and no glitter – Francis Rossi, Rick Parfitt, Andy Bown and John Edwards look more like they’re about to play a game of bowls in their crisp shirts and comfy trainers. The exception is new drummer Leon Cave, who’s half their age at most. These relics of rock haven’t lost their performing power, though; at times, as they make their way through variations of the blues scale by way of Rain, Paper Plane and Hold You Back, Cave is drowned out by their guitars, which is quite a feat./o:p
If anyone was concerned that age would sap the energy of these rock and roll stalwarts, they needn’t have worried. Rossi darts around the stage, posturing next to Bown and Parfitt as if legs-akimbo soloing is still cool. Cool is one thing they’re not, but they can hold a harmony and bash out a polished riff like it’s still 1969. Rossi quips between songs that he shouldn’t need a capo as he’s made a career out of playing only two chords, and reassures the audience that he ‘probably’ won’t keel over./o:p
The harmonica comes out mid set for a medley (or ‘bunch of songs’ as Rossi calls it) of What You’re Proposing, Wild Side of Life, Down the Dustpipe and Railroad. Rossi’s affable charm is more like that of a maths teacher who moonlights in a pub covers band, but then again, he’s Francis Rossi – he doesn’t need to make an effort. He can still blow the socks off a packed area with tight, abrasive rock and roll, and Status Quo’s lasting ubiquity proves they haven’t descended into the novelty act bin. They may use only two chords (sometimes three) but their show at the O2 – which has a penchant for swallowing melodies in its cavernous ceiling, but is no match for the Quo – puts them right up in the ‘legends’ category./o:p
You’re In The Army Now is unsurprisingly pulled out towards the end, and it stands out not only as the set’s only downbeat song, but as an anthem in its own right. Whatever You Want and Rockin’ All Over The World have the crowd on their feet playing air-guitar, but surprisingly, aren’t saved for the encore. Ending on arguably their most well-known cover instead of Chuck Berry’s Rock and Roll Music would have been a more triumphant exit, but it’s a tiny detail – they’ve still got it, as they did when they played Download this year.