Save for the Rolling Stones, whom they turn 50 just behind, no other major British rock band has outlasted Status Quo. Conservatively sheared these days, core duo Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt's mullets have been less fortunate, and so has Rossi's septum, a casualty of the cocaine years. The south London 12-bar‑boogie merchants' credibility, meanwhile, was arguably stillborn.
But however you slice it, a half-century in rock'n'roll without dropping is no mean feat. In 2013, the classic "Frantic Four" lineup, featuring bassist Alan Lancaster and drummer John Coghlan, will reunite for the first time in almost 30 years. There's also the release of the band's action movie – no, really – Bula Quo!.
But tonight, part of their Quofestive Christmas tour, it's business as usual as the Quo, featuring guitarist-keyboardist Andy Brown and bassist John Edwards, lock in trademark formation, waving battered Telecaster guitars in sync. It's the same unit that has been liberating denim waistcoats from wardrobes all over the world since 1986. Their idea of progression is the difference between a riff that goes dunk-ah-dunk-ah-dunk-ah-dunk, and another that goes dunk-dunk-ah-dunk-dunk-ah. They rock with all the metronomic pace and heaviness of an Eddie Stobart 18-wheeler truck clipping the white line as it ploughs the M6. Only Status Quo could play a medley – of What You're Proposing through to Again and Again – in which you can't spot the joins. Knocked off successively, their most identifiable hits – Down Down, Whatever You Want, Rockin' All Over the World – evoke countless tacky adverts.
It's impossible to imagine the Stones reduced to playing a cheesy medley of Christmas songs, while squinting to read lyrics off an Autocue. But then, as the seasonal shtick is ditched for the football terrace-favourite Burning Bridges, it's hard, too, to think of any other band who reliably give their fans whatever they want with such constancy.
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image: © Andrew King