The mining of the venerable Status Quo’s back catalogue continues with the release of a stellar gig recorded before a partisan home crowd at the 02 arena in December 2012 and is now the second release in the Official Archive Series. Similar to Vol1, recorded in Amsterdam in 1991, this release includes many tried and trusted Quo ‘live’ favourites and a few deep cuts seldom performed and, on this album, Quo’s medley of a few Xmas tunes which’re given the Quo treatment. As Francis Rossi said, “I love playing ‘live’ and touring and December shows are great with the special pre-Xmas vibe.”
These onstage performances have become Quo’s calling card, their rock anthems are recognised wherever they play and they’ve become a ‘must-see live’ attraction. The Quo still exist, though the Frantic Four is now the Frantic One, and they perform fewer gigs now .. though Rossi is still on the scene performing a one-man music and chat show across the country .. and at one time Quo’s Xmas gigs were a mainstay of the rock Xmas season.
After a couple of minutes of intro music, Quo appear onstage and they open up with two stone-cold classics, ‘Caroline’ and ‘Paper Plane’, both of which get the crowd immediately onside. Quo has never pretended to be virtuosic performers like Dream Theatre, with long complicated pieces, what they give you can be summed up with these opening tunes .. straight-down-the-middle rock with some mighty riffing and infectious boogie.
‘Rain’ is another classic and we even get a guitar solo with it. ‘The Proposin’ Melody’ veers from ‘What You’re Proposing’ into a melody of well-known Quo songs, including ‘Down The Dustpipe’ and ‘Big Fat Mama’, with the surprising inclusion of Kitty Wells’ 1952 country classic, ‘Honky Tonk Angels’. After a deep cut of ‘Creepin’ Up On You’, the show dips somewhat with performances of ‘Marguerita Time’ and the abysmal ‘In The Army Now’, before a two-minute drum solo which doesn’t even get out of first gear and why it’s included is beyond me.
The pace soon picks up when Quo hit the stage again with classics like ‘Roll Over Lay Down‘, ‘Down Down’ and ‘Whatever You Want’. The obligatory ‘Rockin’ All Over The World’ leads into a Xmas melody of ‘Winter Wonderland’ and ‘Rockin’ Around The Xmas Tree’, with the fans singing the chorus of deck the halls with boughs of holly, before they finish with ‘Burnin’ Bridges’.
This series captures the raw infectious energy of a Quo gig, with irresistible hooks, timeless riffs and all the energy they’re known for. Despite all the flak from critics down the years, the Quo have become national treasures and they have a deserved rep of being a band few would want to follow onstage.