Open air Quo plays acoustic and electric

May 2017 Open air Quo plays acoustic and electric

By Martin Hutchinson

Recent events seemed to put the future of Status Quo in doubt.

The passing of Rick Parfitt on Christmas Eve, 2016, could possibly have put an end to the band, but as front-man and last-remaining founder member Francis Rossi told me, this is far from the truth.

“Everything’s alright at the moment in the camp. I’m even recording an album with Hannah Rickard, one of the singers on the Aquostic album, which has a country feel, and it’s going quite well.”

But the death of his long-standing partner-in-rock, who joined the band in 1967, must have been a shock.

“Yes, well, it took a long time to sink in – probably still hasn’t really.”

Francis remembers the day clearly.

“We arrived home from the UK tour at about nine in the morning on Christmas Eve and I got a call from Simon (Porter, the band’s manager) between 10 and 10.30, saying he (Rick) was very ill, and within two hours he was gone.

“To be honest, it was something we were expecting, but I’m not quite sure I’m used to it, and it reminds us of our own mortality. It was weird playing a gig when he wasn’t there, but we’ve been dealing with it.”

Rick had retired from Quo earlier in 2017, following a heart attack in the summer, but he’s played on the second Status Quo acoustic album and had been recording a solo album as well as writing his biography.

“I have no idea whether any of this will be finished,” Francis said. “They played one of his solo tracks at the funeral.”

A memorial to the blond guitarist is to be held at some point.

“Yeah, but we’re not sure when it will be. Maybe May or June.”

At some shows in the summer, Rick’s place had been taken by Freddie Edwards, who is the son of Quo’s bassist, John ‘Rhino’ Edwards, and then during the December tour by Richie Malone.

I asked Francis if Richie is now a fully-fledged member of the band.

“Yes, he is. Freddie was a great stand-in, but he has his own career. Richie is extremely good and can commit to the band. He has been watching us from when he was very young and knows what we’re about.”

In fact, the introduction of the Irish guitarist could be a bonus.

“Yeah, bringing in some new young blood has given us a kick in the a**e as we may have been becoming a bit complacent. There’s a new edge to it all now and one’s interest is different.”

Francis had been hoping Status Quo could have hung up the electric guitars after the December tour, but this isn’t proving to be the case, as well over half of the shows in the diary are still electric. Maybe the idea of an acoustic Quo isn’t as popular as it might have been.

“Well, the second album didn’t do as well as the first, and with Richie being in the electric band has made a change. But the show at The Roundhouse was very encouraging, but it’s all about profile.”

The demand for the electric Quo is still high though.

“Yes, and that’s what’s weird. We had an acoustic tour of Australia lined up, but that’s now become electric as they wanted a ‘Last Night Of The Electrics tour too.”

But some great things resulted in the electric tours continuing.

“We have managed to keep our crew on. They all have families and mortgages, so being able to keep them on makes me feel good, as they rely on us to keep them employed.”

He sighed. “To be honest, I didn’t think this year would happen, but it is, so we just keep going.”
With a mixture of electric and acoustic shows in the diary, there could be confusion around which version the band plays.

“Yes,” agreed Francis. “Probably more in the acoustic shows, and especially if the song is one we’re still doing electrically. However, once rehearsals have been started, I’m OK.”

Francis is still getting used to playing the songs acoustically.

“I’m frightened s**tless most nights.”

But the acoustic versions of Quo classics is an interesting project, with a new slant being given to songs like Down Down, Caroline, Rockin’ All Over The World and Roll Over Lay Down.

“I was a bit unsure at first when we started the Aquostic stuff, but as time went on, we got a bit ‘precious’ about it and we’re very pleased at how the songs sound.”

When not working in Quo, Francis has other projects and keeps fit.

“I have a trainer that keeps coming round and hurting me. I do have a solo album in the can but as I started to work with Hannah on her album, it got put on a back-burner as the album with Hannah is more interesting.”

There is also the little matter of the band’s 50th anniversary this year. But Francis appears to be uninterested.

“I know Simon (the manager) would like to do something, but I don’t really get it, I would rather not do anniversaries.

“The main problem is ‘what anniversary is it, exactly?’ We celebrated the 20th anniversary in 1982, as the band was originally formed in 1962, but a lot of people tend to go from when Rick joined in 1967, and we changed the name to Status Quo. But you never know.”

Whatever happens, the mighty Quo will continue to treat their fans to a great night of music at their shows, whether electric or acoustic – and that is what the band have always delivered – whatever you want.

Status Quo dates:
May 27: PGA Championships, Wentworth. (Electric).
June 20: Inverness Leisure
Centre. (Aquostic).
June 21: The Barbican, York. (Aquostic).
une 25: The Nick Rayns LCR, UEA. (Aquostic).
July 1: Royal Albert Hall,
London. (Aquostic).
July 15: Brentwood Festival, Brentwood. (Electric).
August 6: Rewind North, Capesthorne Hall, Macclesfield. (Electric).
August 20: Rewind South,
Temple Island Meadows, Henley on Thames. (Electric).