Picture the scene. It's March 1976. Or, to be more precise 14th March 1976, a Sunday, one week before my 15th birthday. I'm about to attend my first ever rock concert and the excitement is unbearable. I've had the tickets for about a month after qeueing for hours outside the same venue from about 7am on a cold and wet Sunday morning. The venue is the Cardiff Capitol Theatre which was mostly used as a cinema and to host rock and pop concerts. It was also the venue where eleven years previously, The Beatles had played the last show of their last ever UK tour(12th December 1965. )The only time I've ever seen live music has been on holidays in Minehead Butlins, which is ironic really as the two guitarists of the band I'm about to see, first met at Minehead in 1965. The band I'm about to see, the band I've loved for about three years and are totally obsessed with are Status Quo.
I've loved them ever since my brother lent me his cassette of the Hello album. That was it I was hooked. I bought each album as it came out:Quo, On The Level, Blue For You and bought the previous albums, Piledriver and Dog of Two Head. I was too young to see them in other years but by 1976 I was ready.
We take our seats, it is a theatre after all, and the mostly male audience, me included, all look the same;long hair and denim. I've never seen so much denim in one place it's scary. There is a support act, Shanghai, but no one is interested. We have only come to see The Quo. As everyone is seated during the support act, I expect the same for Quo;how wrong I am. The tension starts to build after the band go off and the Quo oh oh oh oh chorus starts kicking in. They seem to keep us waiting ages, but eventually the lights go down, there is an enormous cheer, and everyone is up on their seats. The whole of the stalls is actually standing on the seat chairs. I've never experienced anything like it, the atmosphere is electric. Four silhouettes appear on the stage. It's them I cry to my mate who has never been to a concert before. We hear a drum beat or two and a chug chug of guitars as they find their chords. The assault on the senses then starts and the next two hours would change my life. The first thing to hit me was the noise. God it was loud, it was like being plugged into the mains. Then to see the band onstage and in the flesh was like a dream. Rossi looking as thin as a rake and about seven foot tall was running around like a madman whilst playing ridiculously fast solos and not missing a note. Parfitt with his blond curly hair looked like a greek God and was hammering at his Fender Telecaster. Lancaster's bass was booming and Coghlan with his enormous drum kit was keeping it all together. It was the best two hours of my life so far. By the end of the show I was exhausted. How the band could do this every night I just don't know.
I saw them again in 1977 and 1979, but by 1981 I had lost interest. The albums had become too well produced and had lost the raw power of their early to mid seventies albums. Also the band were falling apart. John Coghlan left in 1981 and things were never the same. They did The End of the Road tour in 1984, played LIve Aid, then finished. They fell out with Alan Lancaster over the use of the band's name and there were various court cases over it.
Rossi and Parfitt reformed the band with new members in 1986 but I had no interest in them at all. They became a cabaret act and a bit of a national joke, with awful albums and even resorting to covers albums. I have seen them twice in recent years just for old times sake and although it was a good night out nothing will ever beat the atmosphere and excitement of those 70s gigs. You had to be there to understand. Laugh at the modern Quo and slag them off by all means, but the Quo of my teenage years 1972-79, were one of the biggest, loudest and best groups on this planet. If you don't believe me have a listen to the Live album from 1977 which was recorded just seven months after the show I saw.
Why am I writing this?Well, the original line up, The Frantic Four as Rossi christened them, are playing a nine date tour starting next Wednesday in Manchester. I would love to have been able to go to one of these shows, but unfortunately I can't make it. It may be rubbish, it may be embarrassing but somehow I don't think it will be. These are guys who played music for what it should be, fun. They didn't try and save the planet or have any political agenda, but just went out and played good old fashioned rock n roll and boogie woogie. I wish them well.