Tag Archives: Hammersmith Apollo

Hammersmith Apollo – music venue

Ocean Colour Scene at Hammersmith Apollo 12/12/16

I’ve long admired Ocean Colour Scene but never actually seen the full band live before. I have seen lead singer, Simon Fowler, do a nice, intimate, laid-back acoustic set once. But tonight he is, rightly, in full-on rock star mode so it’s up to Paul Weller to do the nice, intimate, laid-back acoustic set in a lovely and unexpected surprise as support act. One of the joys about gig-going in London is that you do often get nice little surprises like this. (See my post on the Dave Davies gig in Islington this time last year when Ray decided to join his brother for an encore, for example.)


It’s 20 years this year since Ocean Colour Scene’s Moseley Shoals album came out and to mark the anniversary the band are doing a short tour performing it in full. I’d love to be able to say I first became aware of them when they were an obscure band starting out but like, I suspect, many, many people Ocean Colour Scene only came on to my attention when the brilliantly memorable ‘Riverboat Song’ (the opening track on this album) was used by Chris Evans each week in his TFI Friday Show.

Mosley Shoals (a West Midlands-inspired pun on the famous Muscle Shoals studios in the States) is definitely one of the strongest albums emerging out of the mid-90s Britpop era. Before they get cracking with Moseley Shoals, however, they reel off a version of The Beatles’ Day Tripper’ that gets the audience nicely warmed up. Then, beginning with ‘The Riverboat Song’ it’s off for a glorious ride, track by track through Mosley Shoals.

A few years ago the whole ‘band-performs-album-in-full’ routine was in danger of getting massively over-done. But for truly iconic albums like this it’s definitely something worth seeing. Moseley Shoals is one of those albums that contains so many memorable songs that it’s more like a “best of” compilation of band classic than just another regular studio album. Unforgettable songs like the aforementioned ‘The Riverboat Song’, ‘The Day We Caught The Train’ and ‘The Circle’ have the entire venue on their feet and that continues throughout the whole performance (even though, for some reason, the Apollo decided to set up the venue as an all-seater tonight, rather than pull the moveable seating out which they often do for many big bands).

Fowler’s voice is as strong as ever and Steve Cradock really gives it some welly on lead guitar, with some nice solos. With three of the four of the original line-up still with the band, it gives the performance some genuine authenticity. Paul Weller returns to the stage again for ‘The Circle’ – one of the tracks on which he performed on the original album.


The crowd sing along with each track and once the band are done with the album they continue with a well-chosen selection of band classics, including an emotional communal sing-along to ‘Profit In Peace’.

As the previous generation of rock icons fill the obituary pages on an almost daily basis it’s now up to the Britpop generation to start assuming some of their imperial majesty in celebrating our rock history. Ocean Colour Scene have certainly risen to that challenge tonight.

Day Tripper
The Riverboat Song
The Day We Caught the Train
The Circle
Lining Your Pockets
Fleeting Mind
40 Past Midnight
One for the Road
It’s My Shadow
Policemen & Pirates
The Downstream
You’ve Got It Bad
Get Away
Foxy’s Folk Faced
This Day Should Last Forever
Better Day
Profit in Peace
So Low
Get Blown Away
Travellers Tune
Robin Hood
Hundred Mile High City



Status Quo – Aquostic at Hammersmith Apollo 26/4/15

Status Quo are a band that stopped worrying about critical acclaim and musical credibility long, long ago. After the band’s 70s/early 80s peak we’ve seen cringe-worthy covers albums, sing-along football songs, bizarre collaborations with the Beach Boys; in fact you name it, they’ve tried it. Even the well-received reunion of their classic 70s line-up in 2013  was immediately followed by a completely unfunny mafia comedy film set on a tropical island.

So the idea of a Status Quo acoustic album and tour could be dismissed as yet the latest undignified attempt in a long line of pointless gimmicks. Except that… the album was actually rather good. And following a strong reception to a one-off acoustic show at the Roundhouse last year, touring it was an inspired idea. More than simply strumming along to some old hits, however, the band took the trouble to create completely reworked arrangements for the album and they are replicated here tonight. The acoustic guitars and harmonica are complimented by a range of other instruments, including mandolin, accordion, viola, cello and violins. Joining the modern era line-up of Status Quo (Francis Rossi, Rick Parfitt, Andrew Brown, John Edwards and new-boy Leon Cave) are an additional nine musicians as well as two female backing singers, all of whom, Rossi tells the crowd, played on the album.

Rather than the usual Quo gig, the elegant lighting, back drapes and stage full of seated musicians looks more like the setting for a 1950s dance band. The sound is still unmistakably Status Quo but the light and breezy arrangements and sensitive vocals show off the quality of the songwriting and bring out new depths to often familiar songs. A beautifully laid-back version of early 80s hit “Rock ‘n’ Roll” is a particular highlight and there are some lovely reworkings of earlier material like “Reason for Living”, now re-imagined as a folk-rock rock classic. Rain is given a makeover as a countrified acoustic blues and a classically-infused Mystery Song, with exquisitely catchy string accompaniment, is another highlight. Of course many of the best known classics are included, too, like Caroline, What Your Proposin’ and Down Down.

The set proper is finished with Whatever You Want and Rockin All Over the World, the acoustic treatments creating the perfect setting for a mighty communal sing-along. Thankfully the post 1983 material has been kept to a minimum in favour of earlier classics, but they encore with a nicely sensitive version of Rock ‘til You Drop. That is then followed by the gimmicky jig, Burning Bridges. It wouldn’t be my choice for a Quo encore but the crowd lap it up and you can forgive the band one lapse of good taste after such a stunning evening.

Break the Rules
Again and Again
Paper Plane
Mystery Song / Little Lady
Rock ‘n’ Roll
What You’re Proposing
Softer Ride
Down Down
Pictures of Matchstick Men
Down the Dustpipe
All the Reasons
Reason for Living
Rollin’ Home
Don’t Drive My Car
Marguerita Time
Whatever You Want
Rockin’ All Over the World
Rock ’til You Drop
Burning Bridges (On and Off and on Again)



Previous Review: Status Quo Frantic Four reunion

Status Quo at Hammersmith Apollo 28/3/14

Normally, I’m all for big named bands giving up-and -coming ones a helping hand with a support slot on tour. But when it comes to big rock reunions, and I’ve seen a few, nothing beats a well-chosen,  established act from a similar era to kick things off. Status Quo have chosen brilliantly here by getting in Wilko Johnson as the support for their “frantic four” classic-era reunion tour. Diagnosed with terminal cancer in early 2013, former Dr Feelgood guitarist, Johnson, made the brave, inspirational and utterly life-affirming decision to use his remaining time, not pursuing a debilitating and ultimately futile course of treatment, but by saying farewell to his fans with a series of live dates. There has been no sign of his being incapacitated just yet and so further dates have been added, the Quo tour being the latest. And what a magnificent performance, not only from Wilko but from bass player Norman Watt-Roy and drummer, Dylan Howe. The crowd roared its approval as the trio delivered blistering performances of Feelgood classics like Roxette, Back in the Night and She Does it right. The admiration and affection for the man tonight was moving but this was no mere sympathy vote. It was a genuinely magnificent set and the crowd responded accordingly. Quo could not have chosen a better way to open up the evening.

After a shortish break the lights dimmed, the famous spoken intro from the 1977 live album was relayed over the PA, the silhouette backdrop made famous by the “Hello” album cover came down and Francis Rossi, Rick Parfitt, Alan Lancaster and John Coghlan walked on stage. The four are reunited for a second time after their reunion tour last year following a 32-year break. Since the demise of the classic line-up in the 80s Status Quo, under Rossi and Parfitt, has very much continued, of course. But what we saw tonight was something very different from the lighter keyboard-heavy pop-rock act that continues to fill arenas every year. Like last year’s  Quo re-union tour, again there was a focus on material from the early 70s albums, rather than the big hits of later years. It was a very similar, setlist too, but although lacking the emotional resonance of seeing four guys walking out on stage together for the first time in over 30 years, it more than made up for that by being a somewhat tighter performance from the band than in 2013.

As in last year’s reunion, returning bass player, Alan Lancaster, got a hefty slice of the lead vocal duties, Lancaster’s gritty vocals being something that later versions of the band have definitely missed out on. I’ve seen the post-Lancaster/Coghlan Status Quo at a couple of festivals, and while they are undeniably fun and entertaining, the quality of songs and the earthiness of the performance when the original four get on stage together provides something different altogether. Highlights for me were Lancaster opening with Junior’s Wailing, Rossi singing In My Chair, and a magnificent performance of perennial crowd-pleaser Forty Five Hundred Times. Although the focus was very much on album classics, I must confess when I saw them last year I was ever so slightly disappointed that they had chosen not to play one of their greatest ever hit singles, Caroline. Tonight, though that was rectified and the band encored with a magnificent version of Caroline, followed by traditional show closer, Chuck Berry’s Bye Bye Johnny. Definitely, a memorable night for British rock.

Junior’s Wailing
Just Take Me
Is There a Better Way
In My Chair
Blue Eyed Lady
Little Lady
Most of the Time
(April) Spring, Summer and Wednesdays
Oh Baby
Forty-Five Hundred Times / Gotta Go Home
Big Fat Mama
Down Down
Roadhouse Blues
Bye Bye Johnny