REVIEW: STATUS QUO – OFFICIAL ARCHIVE SERIES VOL 3, LIVE AT WESTONBIRT ARBORETUM (2024)

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You rarely see gigs in weird places anymore. Everything has become too corporate for that. I can remember listening to The Friday Rock Show as a kid and hearing Paul Stanley yell, “Good evening, Ipswich!”

Around the same time, our parents took us to Westonbirt Arboretum, and that’s where we find Status Quo on the latest of their official bootleg series.

This show from 16 years ago is notable because back then, the in thing was to buy live CDs straight after the show (I did it at a Thunder gig once), and this was one of those. Now it’s been given a spruce-up and is out for everyone.

Around a month ago, I saw Quo. I remain a huge fan, and the reason is right there in the opener. As soon as the opening riff to “Caroline” kicks in, try to stop smiling. Take my hand and together we can rock n roll, indeed.

“The Wanderer” is one of those songs you know you shouldn’t like in 2024, but can’t resist when its boogie starts.

And “boogie” is the thing. “Rain” pours with it and when the chant of “Quo, quo-whoah” starts up, you know that it almost doesn’t matter when this was made as this band, these songs will always, somehow, endure.

As this was recorded in June 2008 on the “Beginning Of The End” tour, Rick Parfitt is in the band, and his playing is wonderful on the title cut (and it’s ironic, perhaps, that I’m reviewing this a couple of days after a change in government, given that ‘Happy days are here again, it’s official from Number 10″ is one of it’s lines).

Whilst you can see Quo in 2024 and see most of these, they always dust something new off on these things and “Don’t Waste My Time” is welcome here.

There’s a bit of soul on “Don’t Drive My Car”, and the organ work is sensational.

More than anything though, Quo are just a good time. Witness “Hold You Back” and if “The Oriental” is still an absolute abomination, then Francis Rossi isn’t listening to me or my opinions, given that it was in the set still, last month.

Much better (although anything else is) is “Creeping Up On You” and if these days “Paper Plane” isn’t making the cut, it really should.

The medley is a beauty (it still is). Quo, just belting them out one after the other, you really get a sense of how skilled they are, but it’s a very different medley back then.

“Living On An Island,” Rick Parfitt’s heartfelt thing, is welcome here, and “In The Army Now” (apart from being a song I played to my brother when he was a toddler to teach him about music) is still superb.

As ever, it heralds the gear change too. It means act three, as it were. “Roll Over Lay Down,” “Down Down,” and that’s before you get to “Whatever You Want.”

“We’ll see you in two minutes,” says Rossi as they leave. He’s not wrong. And they’re Back with “Burning Bridges” before giving John Fogerty some more royalties. It’s a mighty anthem and no mistake, though.

In those days, they were ending things with “Rock N Roll Music/Bye Bye Johnny,” and it is the perfect way to sum up Status Quo.

They are just a rock n roll band. They belong in the classic lineup. They boogie like no one else. They are Status Quo. Accept no imitations. They are just glorious.

Rating: 9/10

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