'The Last Night of the Electrics' is a live release from Status Quo that was recorded at London's O2 on 11th December 2016. Made available across a range of different formats/combos, it's the 2CD+DVD set that's been provided for my reviewing pleasure here. And it most certainly is a pleasure, as the stalwart rockers are one of the UK's finest... always have been and always will be. They were an important band on my own guitar-centric, musical journey during my early teens, ahead of my ascension into heavier music at the tail-end of the 80s. And with a wide back catalogue of perennially popular tunes that have stood the test of time as much as the band themselves, a Quo show is always an occasion for nostalgic celebration as much as it is about pure, unmitigated entertainment in the here and now.
Of course, the second half of 2016 was not a great year. Guitarist Rick Parfitt suffered a heart attack following a show at Expo 2016 in Antalya, Turkey, on 14th June. Doctors instructed him to rest for the second half of the year, which meant he had to miss the 'Last Night of the Electrics' tour... the band's planned final burst of full-on rocking live activity. Then, as 2016 was drawing to a close, the devastating news arrived that he passed away on 24th December as a result of a severe infection. An undeniably and profoundly sad loss for the world of music, in a year that also saw the passing of David Bowie, Prince and, just one day after Rick, George Michael.
During the weeks before Rick's passing, Quo were rocking it out, with his full blessing, on stages around Europe. Of the O2 London show and this live release, Francis Rossi has said that "it captures Quo on incredible form, at a concert that will live long in memory. " He continues: "It was a difficult time, but we knew what we needed to do and we delivered. This was by no means business as usual, nor should it have been, but the energy of the music, the band and the crowd coming together was palpable." This certainly shines through in both the visuals and audio of the DVD and CDs, as Rossi and his comrades were on fine form, including the newly recruited, far younger, guitarist Richie Malone.
Despite Rossi's proclamation of this being a "difficult time", the show on this DVD is all about unpretentious rocking fun. Sweeping shots of what looks like a full crowd in the 20,000 capacity O2 show the huge audience reciprocating with the band's convivial energy. Mutual pre-Christmas fun all-round. During proceedings, lead vocals are shared between Rossi, keys man and guitarist Andy Bown, and bassist John "Rhino" Edwards, as the hits and lesser known tracks plucked from their expansive history come thick and fast. 1971's 'Gerdundula', is a particularly fun piece here, with all members gathered at front-centre of the stage, which truly captures and conveys the infectious Quo camaraderie in this quirky little number. This is made all the more emphatic in that it's immediately followed by their cover of Bolland & Bolland's poignantly melancholic 'In the Army Now'.
There are three audio options for the DVD - PCM Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1. All sound great. The SD visuals presented in 16:19 are acceptable for a 720x480 resolution, with a good enough bitrate. There's a degree of clarity and sharpness in the image in close-ups, although HD enthusiasts will most definitely want to grab the BD of this release. I'm sure the multiple angle footage will look significantly better on Blu-ray. Bonus content on the DVD is an audio only piece... but it's a massive one: an entire Quo show that was recorded on the same tour, at the Heineken Music Hall in Amsterdam, on 2nd December 2016. It's an identical setlist to that of the O2, so it's pure repetition in this sense, but I'm certain that fans of the band will relish these additional live versions. And the two CDs in this set contain the audio from the O2 show. For me, a Quo show needs to be seen and heard, so the CDs feel like bonus content themselves, albeit a nice addition for those who simply want to listen to the music on certain occasions.
At the time of writing this review, a few days before the release of 'The Last Night of the Electrics', it's already been announced that the UK leg of Quo's 2017 winter tour has been renamed, 'PLUGGED IN – Live and Rockin!', which will see Rossi and co. take to stages around the country for further electric shows. Shows that were originally intended to be acoustic, under the 'Aquostic' banner... which, I understand, the mainland Europe gigs will remain, at promoter insistence. As such, this release sets to whet the appetite, rather than providing a rocking swansong. It seems Quo's rock journey is far from over... most welcome news for all, I'm sure.
THE LAST NIGHT OF THE ELECTRICS
Review by Mark Holmes
14th July 2017
CD 1: 1) Caroline; 2) The Wanderer; 3) Something About You I Like; 4) Rain; 5) Softer Ride; 6) The Beginning; 7) Hold You Back; 8) Proposin' Medley; 9) Paper Plane; 10) The Oriental; 11) Creepin' Up On You
CD2: 1) Gerdundula; 2) In The Army Now; 3) The Caveman; 4) Roll Over Lay Down; 5) Down Down; 6) Whatever You Want; 7) Rocking All Over The World; 8) Burning Bridges; 9) Rock And Roll Music/Bye Bye Johnny
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...a Quo show is always an occasion for nostalgic celebration as much as it is about pure, unmitigated entertainment in the here and now."