Review by Ivor Whitten for MPM
The Waterfront Hall was host to an incredible mix of new and experienced, both on stage and in the crowd.
Tonight was going to be an interesting combination with a showcase of pure musical joy from Belfast’s Dea Matrona and the incredible giants of popular rock, Status Quo.
Dea Matrona, of Mollie McGinn, Orlaith Forsythe and new addition on the drums Evan Walsh, took to the stage with a pure aplomb blasting off with their thumping “Just Wanna Rock” to get the blood pumping from the very start.
On into “Oh Well”, “Its only Music” and a consummate cover of “Crossroads” as both Mollie and Orlaith showed their mastery of both lead guitar and bass, continually switching back and forth.
Their energy, ably supported by the solid drumming of Connor, was visible as was their infectious joy at being back on stage for a live audience after the enforced hiatus over the past two years. Dropping more get rocking tunes such as “So Damn Dangerous”, “Cradle Rock” and “Stamp On It”, the crowd that had thronged to the floor were really getting into the mood for a full nights entertainment.
On they went without almost a breath with “Wilderness”, “Nobody’s Child” and finishing with “Make You My Star”. The crowd had thoroughly taken to this young three piece band that have been making a name for themselves for the past few years live on stage, busking the streets of Belfast and playing a number of live online gigs.
Their following is truly worldwide and tonight showed everyone there why they deserved it. Having predominately played covers to begin which showed their blues rock inspiration mixed with a bit of Celtic magic, tonight the audience heard more of Dea Matrona with the original songs they delivered with an enthusiasm and energy that flowed of the stage.
Keep an eye on this band as they will definitely go far.
Then came on the headliners of this sold out gig to the refrain of an intro piece that had little hints of one of their iconic early songs “Picture of Matchstick Men”
It was hard to believe that here, tonight, we had the privilege to watch a band still going since the sixties and still dropping emotional rock that made you just want to let loose and get lost in the riffs and rhythms of none other than Status Quo.
Especially since the sad passing of Rick Parfitt, there was a small doubt that Francis Rossi and the rest could pull it off and keep the lofty band going. From the very first refrain of “Caroline”, there was absolutely no doubt whatsoever.
Just those first notes brought a physical shivering that went up and down the backbone. A strange emotion of almost rapture-like feeling to see Francis on stage with Ritchie Malone, Leon Cave, Andy Brown and the inimitable John “Rhino” Edwards overtook the whole building. This was truly a vindication of turning up to see the Quo.
“Rain”, “Little Lady” and “Softer Ride” pounded out from a band in full control of the performance. And as with the rest of the night the singing duties were shared around the band helping them show off that they could all contribute like a true band of brothers.
Francis in between songs told us all that the band had only been practicing for a few weeks so they were a bit nervous of how it would turn out tonight.
The energy, partnership and professionalism they showed off during each song proved there was really nothing to worry about at all.
Even with a few weeks, Status Quo showed without a doubt that they had forgot nothing and seemed stronger than ever.
“Beginning of the End”, “Hold Yer Back” and a medley of songs like “What You’re Proposing”, “Down the Dustpipe”, “Wild Side of Life”, “Railroad” and “Again and Again” saw the crowd heave to and fro, up and down in time to the unmistakeable Quo rhythms singing their lungs out along with the band.
Then came “The Oriental”, “Cut Me Some Slack” and “Liberty Lane” as the entire Waterfront Hall rocked out and proved the unending joy Status Quo have brought to the generations with old and young all joined together by love for the Quo.
Then the classic “In the Army Now” brought to many that same shiver again like it was becoming an almost spiritual experience. The whole band were fully on form and delivering more than anyone expected.
This was no music by the numbers to put the set in. This was the full Quo experience and everyone there appreciated it. It was as if Belfast was the only gig they were doing and they wanted to go out with a bang.
In between songs Francis engaged in such a relaxed way with plenty of wit and wisdom along the way. He, and the rest of the band could quite easily be high and mighty, but they all proved they may stride the world through rock they were still very down to earth.
“Roll Over Lay Down”, “Down Down” and “Whatever You Want” kept the energy flowing through the rocking out crowd, as they seemed lost in the music.
And finally came the most iconic song of all to finish off the evening of entertainment, “Rockin’ All Over the World” and the crowd just went wild.
The whole evening was a pleasure from start to finish and both bands acquitted themselves perfectly.
Dea Matrona are on their way up, while Status Quo rightfully are astride the very top not only looking down at all they can survey, but reaching out to us all through their musical talent.
This felt like a truly unique evening in the presence of rock royalty and felt like it may never be topped. And that is the feeling that Status Quo delivered with quality and pure grace through an emotional performance that paid tribute to every fan since the Sixties.
This was the beginning of their UK and EU “Out Out Quoing” tour and it was such a beautiful moment to be able to be the first night. You really need to do yourself a favour and go see the legendary Status Quo when they come to your town.
Photography by Darren Mcveigh for MPM