Many thought it would never happen, but on Wednesday night the legendary rock-and-roll band Status Quo finally struck a chord on a Shetland stage to a crowd of around 1,200 at the Clickimin Centre.
The veteran rockers formed in 1969 and have since sold some 118 million albums, so seeing them in Shetland for the first time over 40 years later was a real treat.
They were brought to the isles by local businessman Malcolm Younger to help generate funds for the Callum Younger Reach Fund, which was established in 2005 after the tragic death of his son.
A pleasing turnout of old and new fans decked in Quo T-shirts quickly filled the venue to raid the bar and take their places to see another classic act take the stage first.
Hailing from Yell, No Sweat have been entertaining Shetland crowds since 1980 and took to the stage with some swagger.
Aided by impressive production and sound, they ripped through favourites like Bulletproof and Blue Whiting before ending with the Yell anthem On Da Piss which had the crowd bouncing and singing along as one. It was a fine performance and warmed up the fans for the arrival of the main act perfectly.
The now customary drone sounded out to announce that the time had come for Status Quo to hit the stage and many an arm was raised as the stabbing chords of Caroline opened the set.
Rick Parfitt (now sporting a short haircut) bounded out with a wide smile on his face as frontman Francis Rossi, bassist John “Rhino” Edwards, keyboardist Andy Bown and drummer Matt Letley joined him to power through a breathless opening salvo of songs including Something ‘Bout You Baby I Like and Rain (very fitting considering the deluge that had greeted the band on their arrival).
Rossi then took time to address the crowd in his renowned cheeky fashion, gently poking fun at Malcolm Younger for his Gene Pitney looks and also the searing heat inside the venue.
After preparing the crowd for his imminent heart attack the band launched seamlessly into classic after classic – What You’re Proposin’, Down The Dustpipe, Big Fat Mama and In The Army Now were all performed with the gusto of a band clearly on top of their game and visibly enjoying themselves.
There was to be no let-up from the band as they worked the crowd into a frenzy with chart hits Down Down, Whatever You Want and Rockin’ All Over The World (something which Quo have now surely achieved with this Shetland visit) before the lights dipped and the band raced offstage to a chorus of “we want more” from the crowd.
Showing an energy that belies their age, Rossi and the gang reappeared to thunderous applause to perform the Chuck Berry hit Bye Bye Johnny with an extended crowd sing-along in the refrain before tearing to a finish to leave everyone inside the venue breathless.
Many have poured scorn over the Quo over the years, labelling them somewhat of a “one-trick pony”, but few bands do what they do better. From start to finish they packed a powerful punch of simple, straight-ahead rock that can’t help but get the toes tapping and voices singing in unison.
Overall the band managed to pack plenty of tunes and entertainment into their 80-minute set, with most fans surely feeling that the £75 ticket was more than value for money in the end. Indeed if a trip down to the mainland to see a band of this magnitude was planned then a much bigger budget would have to be considered. Many also enjoyed the fun of seeing such a major act perform on their doorstep.
Credit must be given to Malcolm Younger for pulling off this coup and it is certainly to be hoped that the band enjoyed the experience enough to return again for their legion of fans on the island.