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Suzi Quatro

Artist: Suzi Quatro

Venue: London, London Palladium

Date: 15 November 2023

"I would not have missed this for the world. A night to celebrate the achievements of the little girl from Detroit Rock City who defied conventions to change the face of Rock ..."

Suzi Quatro © Dawn Osborne

Suzi Quatro chose the date for this evening of two sets of her songs and no support at this iconic venue with care. It’s the fiftieth anniversary of ‘Can The Can’ being number one in the UK in 1973. Quatro left her home, family and everything she knew on her own to pursue her dream of stardom and chart success in the UK. The last time she played the Palladium a couple of decades ago, Michael Aspel jumped out on her with a red folder for ‘This Is Your Life’. Tonight is another life defining moment. 

She opens with ‘The Wild One’ as well she might, no other song of hers probably describes her so well, following with ‘I May Be Too Young’, showing the critical awareness of herself that she has always had, producing the peculiar combination of mould breaking behaviour with a life of monogamous relationships and restraint. Ever the professional, she applied the high standards she exacts of others to herself. But before I get too serious (like Quatro often is), tonight is about joy, and when she comes bouncing on stage beaming and exchanging energy with the crowd, the electricity of a live Rock show and being in the moment is totally there. 

Bringing things up to date, she does a couple from recent album ‘No Control’ (‘No Soul No Control’ and ‘Devil In Me’) and stops to introduce the single ‘Shine A Light’ from her most recent album ‘Face To Face’ with K.T. Tunstall. As soon as there is relative quiet, a crazy fan starts shouting “I love you Suzi” and she replies quick as a flash “I love you too, but don’t talk when I’m talking.” And, as if by magic, we don’t hear a further peep. After the song Quatro appears visibly moved, saying “that song always gets me ‘cause it’s so much about my life”.

At that point no one can quite believe their eyes as Boy George and Glen Matlock from the Sex Pistols get on stage for a great version of the duet ‘Stumblin’ In’. Boy George is an obvious fan as he stays in one of the royal boxes till the end of the show right through the interval, dancing and singing along. 

After ‘48 Crash’ with energetic fist pumping and dancing from Quatro’s backing singers (who remind me of Mötley Crüe’s Nasty Habits in terms of attitude and girl power),, Quatro comments that the song was from when she used to live at ‘Top Of The Pops’. Such reminiscing serves to remind all that this is a night for remembering. 

‘Slow Down’, a song she covered with Quatro, Scott, Powell ‘QSP’ (complete with sax solo), and ‘Rockin In The Free World’ is an opportunity to ramp up crowd engagement even more as she flirts, shakes her tush and stage manages the clapping for greater and greater results.   

She finishes the first set with a song dedicated to her parents, ‘Can I Be Your Girl?’, performed just by Suzi and the piano: pared back, it showcases the beauty of her singing voice which has literally improved with age. 

After the interval, now dressed up in her leather jumpsuit, she does two more new songs from ‘No Control’, ‘Motor City Riders’ and ‘I Sold My Soul Today’, before the Creedence Clearwater Revival cover ‘Bad Moon Rising’.

Befitting an evening looking back at her life, Quatro takes the time to give a quick resume of her life from her first band ‘The Pleasure Seekers’, to her journey to the UK alone, her number ones, her role as Leather Tuscadero in ‘Happy Days’ (with a shout out for The Fonz, Henry Winkler), her TV and Radio career, her honorary doctorate in music and her novels books and poetry. She gets though an amazing amount of information at top speed, but still leaves time for jokes and audience involvement. 

Big hit ‘She’s In Love With You’ is followed by new song ‘Overload’ and 1974’s ‘Too Big For My Boots’. Showing she is not, she then takes time to introduce her own band, including “The Horny Boys” on brass, and the drummer with whom she ends up doing a duet illustrating she’s no slouch on the drums herself. We also get her bass solo, which is extremely difficult technically. She informs the uninitiated “the two most important instruments in any band are the bass and drums, You can’t drive a car without an engine and we are the engine”.

Following the challenge “If you’re sitting down you’re too old to be here” she gets the whole audience to stand with that one sentence for biggest hits ‘Can The Can’ and ‘Devil Gate Drive’. 

The encore was the massive hit ‘If You Can’t Give Me Love’, the catchiest of all her songs, and the Chuck Berry cover ‘Sweet Little Rock ‘n’ Roller’, during which she goes down to the front and slaps hands with all the front row. After announcing that “this is one of the best gigs of my life” she finished with a cover of The Eagles’ ‘Desperado’ as she did at the Royal Albert Hall, but this time she visibly sheds some tears, moved by the occasion. She leaves the stage “with a tribute to the man who is the reason I do what I do”, a video of ‘Singing With Angels’, an obvious reference to Elvis.

I would not have missed this for the world. A night to celebrate the achievements of the little girl from Detroit Rock City who defied conventions to change the face of Rock and also managed to get married, have children and avoid the pitfalls of a Rock ‘n’ Roll lifestyle. Unbelievable! 


Review: Dawn Osborne





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