Status is all go for Quo
By Martin Hutchinson
As usual, it’s been a busy year for Status Quo, a year which culminated in the now-traditional December UK tour.
But could this be the last?
The band, fronted by Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt since 1967, has kept up its punishing touring schedule throughout the year, appearing around the world on tour and in summer festivals. But there have been a couple of special events in the Quo calendar this year.
Firstly, there was the second reunion tour of The Frantic Four line-up of Francis and Ric with original bassist and drummer Alan Lancaster and John Coghlan.
After 30 years apart, this classic line-up reunited in 2013 for a handful of shows. The fans, who had wanted this reunion for years, were ecstatic and clamoured for more.
They got it as the foursome reunited for one last time earlier last year for a handful of shows in the UK, ending in Dublin.
“This years’ shows went much better than the first,” Francis Rossi told me at his London home.
“The people loved it, which was the main thing.”
And will the Frantic Four reunite again?
“No, there’ll be no more.” He said. “We had a talk and came to the conclusion the personality clashes that helped break up the band before, could resurface; but we’ll keep in touch.”
(The last show in Dublin has recently been released as a DVD and Live CD.)
The band then caused shockwaves throughout the music industry by releasing – wait for it – an acoustic album, a full album of Quo hits as we’d never heard them before. And it was a hit!
“I didn’t fancy it at first,” said Francis, 65. “But then we did some adverts in Australia and did a couple of acoustic songs, and we thought that the melodies were really nice.”
So the band took it a stage further and went into the studio.
“Once we got into it, I began to enjoy it. It was both enjoyable and creative, so much so, that I got a bit ‘precious’ about it and the concept grew a bit.”
The project took longer than originally planned.
“That’s right. “What was supposed to take four to six weeks ended up taking four and a half months.”
What was the reason?
“The songs got better each time we did them and we kept adding bits, and then we decided on having a real accordion instead of a synthesizer.”
Still it was a bit of a gamble.
“We were all very pleased with it in the end. What helped in the process is that a lot of the songs were actually written using acoustic guitars, and having done the live shows, I listen to them differently; I find them somehow refreshing.”
The gamble paid off and the album has been well-received, and the band – with special guests – played a one-off show in London which was broadcast live on BBC Radio 2 and on the BBC Red Button.
“We were all very nervous about the gig, nobody slept for weeks.”
In the traditional December tour, Status Quo did not have an acoustic slot in the live show.
“No, not this time. If we were going to do it, we’d do it properly. I’d rather take it out as it was at the Roundhouse.”
So that means that there is a possibility of an acoustic tour?
“We’ll see how the album does into the New Year and if it continues to do well, we may do some ‘test’ gigs in the spring.
“The signs are good though.”
As time goes on, the band isn’t getting any younger and a sit-down acoustic tour may be the way to keep Status Quo on the road for a bit longer. We aren’t sure if we’ll be doing a tour like the December one in 2015.
“The older you get, the more it hurts. Our gigs are quite physical. I tell people I’m 65 so they say ‘you’re as old as you feel’, and I keep telling ‘em that I f***in’ feel 65.
“But when we sat down to do the acoustic show, it felt very comfortable. So that may be the way to keep the band going to the 50th anniversary in 2017.”
And of course, we had the December tour and this year, with the Quo’s special guests Chas and Dave.
Francis said. “I have always had the greatest respect for Chas and Dave. Normally I don’t like the London accent in singing, but they make it listenable.
“I particularly like ‘Ain’t No Pleasing You’, – it’s a great song.”
And as for Quo?
“We did what we do best, with all the greatest Quo hits, plus we put in three or four of the songs we did on the Frantic Four gigs.”
“Oh, – things like ‘Oh Baby’ and ‘Little Blue Eyed Lady’, stuff like that, alongside the songs like ‘Caroline’, ‘Down Down’ and of course ‘Rockin’ All Over the World’.”