First Night: Calling time on good old rockers

Status Quo Ruskin Arms Manor Park, London
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The Independent Online
THE VERY idea of a Status Quo pub tour seems appropriate. After all, the East End boys-made-good have done little more than purvey the most straightforward boogie for over 30 years now.

Playing a series of dates for long-serving fan-club members in such venues as this, a shrine to heavy rock where the likes of Iron Maiden started out on their road to world domination and Essex mansions complete with fully equipped pubs, makes a lot of sense.

Basic music in basic surroundings - it has to be better than vile barns such as the National Exhibition Centre or Wembley Arena, venues that positively discourage drinking and dancing, and generally getting any, er, rocks off.

The Nineties have hardly been kind to the Quo. Hits have tailed off, and their attempt to sue Radio 1 in 1995 after a limp remake of "Fun, Fun, Fun" with the Beach Boys was left off the play list came across to many as a publicity stunt that backfired. But they are still as much a part of British culture as jellied eels and the Queen Mother, two other things that many people could happily do without.

Their influence is undeniable, if unconscious. How many aspiring musicians must have watched them on Top of the Pops, thought "I could do that" and improved on the template?

The "home of heavy metal" must be smaller than the rooms Quo rehearse in. But the crowd - clearly unaware of denim's unfashionability - lapped them up, for at a distance of 30 feet or less, these fiftysomethings still rock, or boogie at least.

Francis Rossi, as ever sporting a ponytail and granddad shirt, looks more comfortable than his long-time cohort Rick Parfitt, tanned, wearing a gold guitar pendant and looking less than awed by his surroundings.

"Again and Again", "Sweet Caroline", a medley including "Mystery Song" and "Wild Side of Life" that defies critical analysis are all neat and noisy and intact. Yet the years roll on. An unexceptional "Rocking All Over the World" seems perfunctory. As they finish withsnippets of Fifties rock'n'roll classics like "Lucille" and "No Particular Place To Go", you feel time closing in for them. Ashes to ashes, pubs to pubs.