Newsletter number 19 of the on-line rock newsletter 'UK RockNet' (at www.ukrocknet.com) contained the following review of Quo's concert with the Beach Boys at Warwick Castle on July 20th. The review was penned by Stef Elliott.
'UK RockNet' was recently invited to the Warwick Castle leg of this 'super band' extravaganza. After walking for what seemed like miles trying to find the right entrance, and asking most of the events security staff for directions, things began to go more our way. We had somehow managed to find the entrance at the furthest point from the backstage area where we needed to be to meet up with Status Quo. Thanks again must go to Simon Porter, who without which, none of this would have been at all possible.
Well after one of the most exciting points in my life ever (see the interview with Rhino), we wandered front of house to watch The Beach Boys.
From the moment The Beach Boys hit the stage it did nothing but absolutely piss down! Opening their set with "California Girls", they proceeded to amble through a set of both hits and of lesser-known stuff. At one point it even stopped raining and the sky looked to be clearing until they tempted fate with "Surfin' USA" when it began to really hammer it down. It was kind of ironic really watching The Beach Boys in the rain (we were rapidly becoming UK Rock Wet!!). A relatively small crowd gave them quite a warm but wet response as they warbled through their lack lustre set. I'm sure Warwick Castle has seen the likes of the Beach Boys before. Quite honestly they really didn't set the stage alight. In fact they lived up to the way they looked! Fat American tourists with loud shirts and the cameras around the neck! Yes, they did have cameras on stage with them. The only real highlight to their set was the break in the rain. I was really disappointed with them. Yes musically they were very tight, but if they moved two feet away from the mike stands all night then I'm exaggerating. As a band with such a huge reputation for being a fun band they really looked like they were doing it because they had to and would be happier walking around the castle grounds doing what Americans do best in our quaint old English castles!!!
Full marks have to go to the sound crew this evening. It was absolutely awesome. No matter where we stood or how far back we walked the sound remained incredibly clear and so full even with the battle against the rain being lost, not helped by at least 99% of the crowd opting to buy the £2 plastic bin liners for protection.
Status Quo hit the stage at 9:15 p.m. and immediately things were different. Not simply because the crowd had appeared to triple and the security staff were panicking about the crowd pushing forwards, but because of the sheer energy they started their set with. The last time I managed to see Quo on this sort of open-air stage was at Old Trafford back in 1992. Having regularly read the band's website and seeing that Quo do this kind of thing daily on the continent throughout the Summer, I was bracing myself for a real heavy rock 'n' roll show. I was not disappointed. On the last couple of occasions that I've seen the band they have become a much tighter, more powerful and a decidedly heavier outfit than back in the eighties when I had my first encounters with them. They may be getting older but they are also getting better, heavier and also appear to be having much more fun. I don't believe that any journalist with any ounce of honesty in their bones could slag this band off at the moment. They really are the kings of what they do.
Opening the set with "Caroline" it was full pelt all the way. Their sound was absolutely amazing, every single note being crystal clear. Upon finishing "Caroline" they bounced straight into The Wanderer". This was going to be a night for all types of Quo fans. Even this early into the set they were demonstrating their flexibility. Playing the 'Hardcore' and 'Softcore' stuff as Francis later put it! This was so brilliantly demonstrated when after the first breather (four songs in I have to add!), they really did mix old and new to amazing effect. Having played "Backwater" (circa 1974) they brilliantly segued into "Old Time Rock and Roll" (2000). Then came one of the many highlights of the night for me. One of those trademark Quo medleys. Starting with "Mystery Song" they rocketed through Quo classics such as "Railroad", "Most of the Time", "Wild Side of Life", "Rollin' Home" and "Again and Again", finally bringing this steamroller of a medley to a halt with "Slow Train". As the rain got heavier so did the band. After another quick breather, it was back to it, playing "4500 Times" and "Rain". In fact it was quite funny at this point, not even the heavens could throw the rain at us as heavy as Quo did when they played the song of the same name!
Another breather where Mr. Rossi once again had 11,000 wet but happy Quo fans in the palm of his hand. At this point the band slowed things down a little by playing "Gerdundula" and "In The Army Now". I have to admit though by this point I had lost all my professional sense long ago and it really was heads down and boogie. It was impossible not to. The band was giving such a great show, so heavy yet so assured and amazingly in your face, I defy anybody not to bounce around, sing as loud as they could and really enjoy this amazing spectacle!
Then came the final and most brutal attack of this Quo monster. Launching themselves through their biggest hits, and with the stage roof leaking, the band blew away all my expectations. Just getting better and better as each song got progressively heavier. "Roll Over Lay Down" was I think I'm safe in saying, heavier than I've ever seen or heard it before. Not even on the 'Quo Live' album (1977) did it ever rock this hard. And then finishing up on possibly the three most identifiable Quo songs ever. "Down Down", "Whatever You Want" and "Rocking All Over The World". I have to say that tonight's set was a lot shorter than I'm used to seeing but it was so intense, it really didn't matter (Pesky curfews!). I was soaking wet, deliriously happy and there was yet more to come!!
No 'Bye Johnny' as an encore tonight, only an absolutely blistering version of "Burning Bridges". In fact to prove how hard the band was rocking, Rhino actually lost his in-ear monitor system half way through "Bridges". I'm not sure if it just couldn't take any more but it appeared to make a last gasp dive for its life on to the stage floor!!! And that was it. All over. 11,000-plus very wet, very happy Quo fans made their way back to the coaches and cars that had brought Warwick to a standstill. No moans about the gig at all from the hoards walking back to the car parks, a couple of grumbles about the weather, but as one guy said "Who needs the sun when you've got a band that good!"
Tonight really was something special. I don't think ever in its existence and in all the battles it must have seen Warwick Castle has ever been rocked this hard. In fact at times tonight I'm sure it was in danger of being left in ruins by the sheer power of the Quo onslaught!
Just one final word though about Matthew Letley. I think this guy has made the biggest difference to this band since the changes from psychedelia to rock 'n' roll in the early 70's. Having spoken to Rhino before the gig at length about this subject, I can only agree with him that Matthew was born for this job. So Matthew thank you. Thank you for revitalising and giving a bloody good kick up the arse to arguably the world's best Rock 'n' Roll band ever!Revisit the August 2001 event list
Newsletter number 19 of the on-line rock newsletter 'UK RockNet' (at www.ukrocknet.com) contained the following interview with Rhino, conducted by Stef Elliott.
On the bed with Rhino, UK RockNet's resident Quo expert Stef Elliott catches up with 'Rhino' Edwards in an exclusive backstage and on the bed interview at the band's recent sell out Warwick Castle gig with The Beach Boys.
Right, so here I am on the bed with 'Rhino' in the Status Quo motor-home backstage at Warwick Castle, the rest of the band are milling about being as wacky and bizarre as you'd expect such big stars to be, and there's constant laughter coming from the front end of the bus!!!!! And even more laughter throughout the interview. In fact I think it's fair to say we spent more time laughing and joking than we did talking seriously!
Stef: So Rhino, If you don't mind me asking why are you called Rhino?
Rhino: I don't mind you asking but I'm not going to tell you! (Both of us Laugh)
At this point Steve Hough is trying to take photos of the interview when a certain very famous guitarist (no names mentioned Francis!), decides to try and get in on the act and get himself in the picture!!! After lots of piss taking and even more laughter the interview finally continues
S: Now let's talk about your solo album, It's awesome but I'm interested to know was it something you had to do because you couldn't find the freedom in Quo or was something you just had to get out of your system?
R: Ooh good one! I started writing 'cause I was writing this song and I really loved it, and I thought there's no way they'd want to do this in the band. It's no good, but I really like it so I'll finish it anyway. When I used to try and write particularly for Quo, I'd get so far and all of a sudden I'd get this, not ogre but picture of Francis and Rick in my mind and think well would he want to sing this, and you can't get anywhere like that. You never think about whether anyone else is going to sing them or not.
S: You tend to write lots with Andy Bown don't you?
R: Yeah I used to although I've started to write a lot more with Rick recently.
S: So I guess that stuff's got quite a hard edge to it?
R: Well we've done the last three 'B' sides to the last singles not the 'A' sides but yeah we seem to work really well together.
S: So going back to your first few days with Quo, how difficult was it to walk into the studio with Francis and Rick and just do it?
R: No problem! The thing I had the problem handling was the debauchery! (Laughs all round) I couldn't believe it, I'd never seen drug taking and drinking like it!
S: You knew you'd made it then?
R: Yeah definitely, I must have been quite an out of it merchant until I met them! (We all laugh again) No it wasn't a problem because musically it was just another job at the time and I didn't think it would go any further.
S: Some kind of session job then?
R: Yeah, I did Rick's solo album and he persuaded Francis to get Jeff and me the old drummer, you know he's not in the band any more?
S: Yeah that was a bad day for me as a drummer. Jeff was one of my biggest influences, I knew what I wanted to do once I'd seen Jeff.
R: What's that then, give up? (We all laugh raucously again). No, no, he's cool. I speak to him quite regularly, he's making a load more now than he was with us!! (Laughs again).
S: And that's when you turned into some kind of super hero? Twice in the space of 24 hours in fact!
R: Oh getting everyone else in the band! Jobs for the boy's innit? No, you know. What Francis and Rick have which is really great in my opinion, is because they haven't played with many other people, like the guys from Queen. There becomes this personality evolved in the playing and the singing, which means it can only be you. And I'm really envious of it 'cause everybody wants to have they're own thing. But it came down to the fact that I've played with that many different bands, and that many different people, and you hear people that are really good. So you take their phone number, or you work with them for a while and a) part one they're really good and a) part two they're really nice people.
S: So Matt was your first choice then?
R: Oh yeah, oh yeah, no doubt whatsoever!
S: It was obvious at the NEC in December how much more power and drive there was to the band
R: Weightier, you into football?
S: Yeah a little.
R: It's the difference between having Steve Perriman or Tony Adams in the team. And that's not just because Matthew's taller than Jeff. But because Steve Perriman's really part of the team and if the team are going all over the pitch like that then he goes with them. But with Tony Adams, like Matthew, he stays right where he is, and if you want to go for a wander he makes sure you come right back to where you should be. I always think of music in football terms, it's quite bizarre really!
S: And then you did it again getting Paul into the band to deputise for Andrew. A really strange situation for you both I would imagine as you couldn't really offer him the job? We need you for this BUT
R: Still is. Especially for him. No, he's with us until the end of the year, and I spoke to Andrew a couple of days ago and his situation is resolving itself.
S: Now around this time there was a load of stuff on the Quo Message boards about getting the old band back together and reforming with the likes of Coghlan and Lancaster. I bet this can really piss you off at times, especially as you've been with the band as long as if not longer than Alan Lancaster was?
R: It doesn't really piss me off at all 'cause I didn't make the classic records you know, but it pisses me off when it's anything personal. All those records and all that stuff is nothing to do with me and the fact that they had large personality troubles. Again it's nothing to do with me. "Burning Bridges" is a great song and the lyrics, Francis sings "walk away with no good byes", and he's the most loyal guy I've ever met is Francis. If you're for the cause you won't find anybody more loyal than him, but you fuck him over and that's it gone. Doesn't wanna know.
S: So let's move on to the touring sides of things because that's all you guys ever seem to do
R: The tour that never ends!
S: You have to be one of the hardest working bands on the live circuit anywhere.
R: Well we're working with the Beach Boys at the moment as you know and they're tour is 170 shows. That's big, but I think they do it a different way to us. Yeah, we spend an awful lot of time away from home, they're in America and they just fly home all the time.
S: So how is it being away from home for months at a time?
R: It's great for casual sex! (Laughs out loud again) I didn't mean that, I was joking of course!
S: No he didn't mean that Mrs Rhino!
R: NO! It still is! I don't do all that anymore. You know it's really weird finding out you're getting too old for this stuff, you can't get you're head round it. My missus gets so pissed off at me for saying this but the only thing I miss on the road is my family!
S: It must be really hard being on the road and being a dad at the same time?
R: Oh it is, you know I only spend probably half a term at home. But you get used to just having a couple of days at home, I've had to learn over the years how to switch off. When we came home on Sunday my mum was moving, it was perfect, so I went round to her old house and I scrubbed the kitchen out for her, and you really do forget everything after that.
S: So how much of it is a job and how much of it is being in a rock band?
R: It's what I do and erm, it's what I've always wanted to do. I mean my life's a holiday. Anybody that's in a band, a successful band and moans about it is a tossa! If they don't wanna do it then they should just piss off! Do you know what I mean? I know that reality is a lot different to my reality. It's hard out there. If you don't ever get to do that, you know do it at that level then, well it's all a load of old bollocks but you know what I mean?
S: Yeah, absolutely. So what about stuff like the tour buses. You're a tall guy, how do you cope in bunks that are known for being the size of a Weetabix?
R: Not ours mate!! We've only got a single decker at the moment, we normally have a double decker. We got the Queers club up the front, where Rick and I tend to hang out a lot. We've got the Letley lounge, which is the back lounge and then we've got the parlour, which is where everybody congregates. You've got your kitchen, DVD's, Videos and it's always got a well stocked fridge. There's only 6 of us travel on it. It's a 12 berth so its incredibly comfortable! We've just been in Germany for five weeks and you really do notice the difference when you come back here.
S: So where do you reckon is the best country to go on tour?
R: In what respect?
S: Firstly in respect of the fans and secondly in respect of the facilities.
R: I have to say that you tend to look at it more as what it's like on the days off really. It's what gives the vibe about the country. Australia's really nice but then again I don't think that I have a particularly favourite place. I'm trying to think of a country where the fans are a little reserved, Malta! We played in Malta a couple of years ago and they were a little reserved there but you know, you do a gig, the people go fuckin' bananas, so I don't care!
S: Well that is the one thing about Quo gigs, you always walk away with a big smile on your face.
R: Especially if you've got the drinks franchise! Our fans do like a drink! We do get the occasional mong. We actually stopped a gig the other week, we were so fed up with this one guy! He was so drunk and such a pain, He was a big guy and he whacked a couple of people, so we said right that's it. We're not carrying on until you are out of here! I'd say get completely blotto and come and see us, you'll probably enjoy it more, I don't know. I'm always from the other side of the stage but if that's what gets you off then do that, do it!
S: What are the press like in other countries, You've tended to get a lot of stick over the years.
R: Yeah, I think what goes around comes around, you could get a 'Status Quo in Hip shock scandal'
S: It looks like Marillion have copped for that now doesn't it?
R: It's funny you mentioning that! We worked with them just the other day. We work with some terribly 'unhip' acts, Asia, Aswad and Clawfinger, who I really like, me and Rick are real big fans of theirs! I think they're wicked! I'm not a fan of that kind of stuff though to be honest.
S: So what does make you go "Yeah I like that"?
R: Tits! Well, tits or bollocks! I like music that's got a lot of attitude to it. First of all it's gotta be played like it's meant, it's either got to have that growl to it or be so assured. Which is different. I like Steely Dan records, but I like the Sex Pistols just as much.
S: Yeah, just by the first three tracks on your album the influences in there are so varied.
R: Well I was going to call it 'A Homage to Fromage'. I was talking to this friend of mine and I was telling her as I was doing it, I'd just done the demos and I said it's really pissing me off. Every track sounds like somebody else but it's a cheesy copy! So she said why don't you call it ' A Homage to Fromage', and that was the working title for a long time! I mean most bands that have been around for a few years have got at least one song that I love. Blur I like, I think they're quite good..
S: Track three, Shame, on the album shouts Blur all over it.
R: Yeah that's my blur track. Oh cool you've listened to it.
S: Yeah lots. I mean the double meanings in the lyrics there where you manage to work in all three political parties totally out of context, that's quite awesome that!
R: Oh cheers, I'm impressed, you've listened to it I'm really impressed!
S: I hardly take it off!
R: Wow, there you go . You know Matthew's on that?
S: Yeah, what is it? Track 9?
R: He's on the 'Republican' which is track 5, and "Spend, spend, spend".
S: Francis plays on that one as well doesn't he? That's one hell of a lead break in that.
R: I know!
S: It shows how underrated both Rick and Francis are as guitarists.
R: Oh most definitely! They are guys with a lot of attitude when they play. I mean it is heads down mindless boogie. It's got tits! Mindless boogie with tits!! Whatever. I mean the press slag us off for playing the old songs, but why not? You know they're such wicked songs.
S: Yeah but they appeal to such a wide range of people of all ages. My little boy's three and he knows a lot of the words to "Whatever You Want" and "Down Down"
R: He's heard them on the Argos adverts!!
S: How do you explain the appeal of the band to such a wide age range?
R: I think it's what you just said. A lot of kids when they're growing up their parents have got it on. We've had four generations of the same family at a gig in Finland a couple of years ago! They were literally from 3 to 80 but they were all fans, the little kid and the old granny! It's fantastic! It's very simple music, you don't have to be a brain surgeon to get off on it! I'm just trying to work it out. I don't really know what the longevity of it is! It's quite uplifting I think.
S: So I understand from Simon (Simon Porter, Quo's PR wizard), that you're messing around with the demos for the new album and it's quite heavy and it's got quite a hard edge to it. Is that just the way the band's heading back or has Matthew's influence got a lot more to do with it?
R: Well Francis is writing again with Bob Young.
S: The "Paper Plane" and "Down Down" era?
R: They've done a hell of a lot of songs together. I can't say how it's going to come out because there's intros come on and I've gone Yeah!!!!!! And then the verse hits and I've gone Noooooo!!!! It's the luck of the draw, some songs you think they're going to be crap and they turn out great.
S: So going back a little to the stuff already released, how on earth do you get a set list out of it? There must be hundreds of tracks in contention?
R: It's based around the hits! It's not difficult at all really. I look on our website fairly often, and apart from all that other stuff about the old band, I'll tell you I reckon that if the old band got together now it wouldn't be very good! I think, well I would as I'm doing the job in the old bass department, but they've (Rossi & Parfitt) moved on. They're much better players than they were when I joined the band and they rock just as much if not more you know!
S: I dragged Steve (Hough) along to the NEC in December 2000, and it was a case of 'I saw the original line up nine times, don't want to see these!', and he was blown away.
R: I have to say that I think that's Matthew. He's a lot more powerful than Jeff!
S: Yeah, not quite so intricate.
R: He can really lay it down and Rock out. Matthew has got awesome technique. If you heard him play mucking around you'd be speechless, he's ridiculously good! Believe me. He can play some serious shit if he wants to. But he doesn't have to cause he knows how to rock. If you know how to party say yeah, yeah, yeah!!
S: So how often do soundchecks and stuff end up in you guys just jamming?
R: We did that the other day and I think we might be able to get something out of it. Normally, I tell you what if I had a pound for every time I played "Don't Waste My Time" I'd be a very rich man, seriously rich! We normally just do one song, I'm personally not into it, I don't really like soundchecks very much, but they pass a bit of time. If anybody even one person wanted to do it then fine I'd do it. I'm here I may as well!
S: So how important are the crews at big festival gigs when there's no chance of a sound check?
R: Luckily I don't have to set my own gear up! We've had the same crew for 10 years. They know the show!
S: From what I've seen at gigs the crew is nearly as famous as you, any stories about them getting mobbed?
R: More like them mobbing other people!! We've got Tonto who does the guitars and Dave Salt the stage manager, they look like they'd kill you as soon as look at you. They're really gentle though, having said that I wouldn't want to get on the wrong side of any of them. I remember seeing Motorhead's crew years ago and thinking "fuckin' hell", this guy was about six foot across looked like he weighed 30 stone and I said (in a quiet voice!), "I don't suppose there's any chance of us sound checking then?", and he replied really posh " Oh no, sorry, we've a problem with the equipment and I don't think it will be possible". I expected him just to say "nah, fuck off!".
S: OK, last couple of questions before I let you get back to preparing for tonight. The forthcoming UK tour is really massive. 39 Dates over 2 months. Any reason for such a big tour or is it just your back on the crest of the wave or just doing it?
R: Well it's half and half! We are a gigging band. It's nice to go to the people sometimes instead of letting them come to you. Personally I like theatres and big clubs.
S: Yeah you did the Limelight recently.
R: Yeah I did it with State of Quo. Yeah I wouldn't mind doing it again but we did it at a lunchtime and I'd rather do it on a Saturday night. I didn't get any flack, I like getting a bit of flack.
S: There's no product out for this tour, is it just the "Christmas Tour"?
R: Well we'll be recording in September so I'm not sure whether that will be the case but you know as well as I do it's part of the calendar now! We did it in October a couple of years ago.
S: Yeah confusing that. I came out the gig and thought great it's Christmas next week. Nooo hang on a minute!!
R: Yeah strange. (big laughs)
S: Well that's about it, I could go on forever but you've got a gig to do! Thanks a lot for your time and have a good show.
R: Cheers it was a pleasure, If you want to take some shots before we go on your more than welcome. Just get backstage later on and we'll arrange it!
S: Oh excellent. See you later then!
A review of the gig at Ahlen can be found on the completely revamped Little Egypt web site - click here to pay them a visit.Revisit the August 2001 event list
The 54th annual Wine Fair in the beautiful French region of Alsace was held between the 10th and 19th August and, as usual, attracted an array of well-known international performers.
Quo headlined on the 12th, with good company during the fair - which included appearances by James Brown, The Scorpions, Eagle Eye Cherry and Robert Plant as well as some lesser-known French artists. Promotion for the event included a quality web site with Quo being hyped using the line "Do not miss the comeback of a band which was never really away..."Revisit the August 2001 event list
In a programme devoted to discussing the phenomenon of the male mid-life crisis, who better to showcase than the ultimate middle-aged men, Status Quo! Francis and Rick both made contributions during a 5 minute segment on the band, which included live footage, dressing room interviews and rare tour bus interviews. A good piece on the band and done in a light-hearted but respectful way.Revisit the August 2001 event list
The sad announcement of the death of Quo's manager since 1986, David Walker, appeared on the official Quo web site shortly after his death on 30th August. The following article - titled "Industry Pays Tribute to Status Quo Manager David Walker" - appeared in the following week's issue of the UK music paper 'Music Week'.
Senior executives across the music industry were shocked at the news of the sudden death of Status Quo manager David Walker last week.
Walker died of a heart attack after celebrating his son Charlie's 18th birthday with his family at his Gerrard's Cross home last Wednesday evening. His funeral takes place this Wednesday at 9.30am at Chilterns Crematorium in Buckinghamshire.
Walker enjoyed a rich and varied career in his three decades in the business, which took him from business manager with glam rockers The Sweet through to establishing the successful Handle Artists management group.
Eagle Records managing director Lindsay Brown was the Sweet's agent when he met Walker and the pair later became partners in managing Barclay James Harvest. "It's very sad. David wasn't just a manager, he was a popular man, a friend to his artists and a friend to the industry," adds Brown.
Pip Williams, the producer behind nine Quo albums, also recalls a caring and supportive man. "He had two of his own kids, but really his family was much larger because he was always concerned with looking out for everyone else," he says.
Universal Music chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge also consulted Walker for advice at the start of his career. He says, "It's beyond tragic. David was one of the smartest and shrewdest people I knew. He was ahead of his time, with a wonderful sense of humour."
Quo's publicist Simon Porter adds, "David was the most inspiring and creative man I've ever known," Porter cites the 25th anniversary celebrations at Butlins and the Rock Til You Drop record breaking shows as typical Walker stunts. "He thought them up and I organised them," he says.
Universal TV managing director Brian Berg cites the Radio One "ban" on Status Quo records in the mid-Nineties as one situation Walker turned to his advantage. "He was very genuine and outraged by the affair, but also look at the publicity he managed to get for that," he says.
Sony communications vice president Gary Farrow notes, "His managerial style was infectious. He understood every genre of how the record industry worked and leaves a legacy and a standard that is seldom equalled."
Walker was also a passionate fundraiser for Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy and The Manager's Forum general secretary James Fisher says he also gave generously of his time, helping to establish the music managers' body in its early days.
The family has requested that all donations be sent to Nordoff-RobbinsRevisit the August 2001 event list