Half a century since the release of her chart-topping breakthrough single, ‘Can the Can’, Suzi Quatro has embarked on a UK tour – and she’s still got it!
The tour, which is billed as “The Queen of Rock ‘N Roll Performing A Career Spanning Show,” sees Quatro sing a real mix of material: old bangers, newer songs, album tracks, and covers. Rather than take us on a linear journey, she flipped back and forth between past and present – rocking and rolling along.
She opted not to have an opening act and instead split her show into two hour-long acts. She might be 73 but she showed no signs of exhaustion.
For the first act, she wore a bedazzled denim number, with glistening jewels plastered all over her jeans – including her derriere, which she showed off and shook at least twice.
She wisely split her hits between both acts and broke the hits up with lesser-known songs. The setlist included ‘Stumblin’ In’, her only North American hit. She was much bigger over here than her native US but the song missed out on the UK top 40. It is however such an important song to her so she had to sing it – and the audience loved it.
Her band was all-male but the members varied in age. The drummer was not sat behind a drum shield, as is often the norm at rock concerts – his beats pulsating through the audience.
Quatro’s backing singers, two young women dressed in black leather, were incredible. They had learned choreography for every single number, sometimes making use of tambourines. Their enthusiasm was infectious. Occasionally, I found myself watching them, rather than Suzi.
Quatro was similarly energetic and also very funny. The show could have been billed as “an evening of songs and stories.”
Before singing ‘The Devil in Me’, she told us that her mother used to tell her, “Susan, you’re an angel,” prompting laughter from the audience. “Why do they always laugh at that?” she asked her keyboardist.
She told us that ’48 Crash’, one of her biggest hits, is about the male menopause, which is “much, much worse than the female menopause ’cause at least we admit to it!”. Quatro broke barriers for female rockers in the 70s, and she remains committed to girl power.
She even mocked the audience’s poor singing: “Alright, that was really… sh*tty.” After the next chorus, she asked us, “Why didn’t you do that in the first place?”
The were also some tender moments, with Quatro addressing her late parents, however, the first mention was inadvertently funny. She pointed up at the slip seats in the circle, leading me to think that her mother was sitting up there. “She’s been up there awhile now,” Suzi said, still pointing at the slip seats. It took me a moment to realise that she was referring to Heaven…
At the end of the first act, she told us that she was going to change into something more recognisable. “I feel like me now,” she said at the beginning of the second act, now dressed in a leather pantsuit, similar to the one she wore for the ’48 Crash’ single cover – the iconic image of which was printed on a huge cloth and hung above the stage.
The second act turned to story time, with Quatro offering a whistle-stop tour of her career so far, beginning right back with her origin. She mentioned her first hit, ‘Can the Can’, and the band began playing the iconic track, much to the delight of the audience, before Suzi cut off the music and shut us up: “Too early,” she said.
The song was performed towards the end of the main set, with an intro which saw Suzi join the drummer for an exhilarating drum-off. The previous number, ‘Glycerine Queen’, ended with a long guitar solo – a masterclass in guitar playing. Quatro is as skilled with instruments as she is vocally.
‘Can the Can’, Quatro’s first UK number one, was immediately followed by her second, ‘Devil Gate Drive’ – a thrilling end to the main set. The first encore was opened with ‘If You Can’t Give Me Love’, one of Quatro’s best-loved songs on these shores. This performance was truly striking.
She ended the first encore with ‘Sweet Little Rock and Roller’, a Chuck Berry cover. The second encore, a cover of the Eagles’ ‘Desperado’, was performed just by her and her keyboardist. It was a blissful, relaxed end to a concert that was all about Rock’n’Roll.
The only way the concert could be improved is with a bigger production. Quatro commands the stage on her own; she does not need dancers or set pieces, but there could be a screen with occasional video footage, perhaps some throwbacks, rather than just a cloth with her face on it. The atmosphere could be enhanced with some more exciting lighting – more fitting for a night of rock music.
All in all, this was a captivating concert which saw 73-year-old Suzi Quatro cement her legacy as the Queen of Rock and Roll.