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That was the Quo month that was ... December 2004

4th - Quo concert at Wembley Arena

In their biggest gig of the UK so far, Quo played Wembley Arena to a crowd of about 10000 - making this their most sizeable Wembley crowd for some years. Rhino's son's band "Toothpaste Factory" did a very early support slot, before Mike Peters led out his band, The Alarm, for the support aproper.

The setlist for this gig was as follows.

A short review (penned by a self-confessed Alarm fan) can be found here whilst a varied selection of photos of the Wembley event is online here.

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18th - Quo concert at Birmingham NEC

Despite not fully recovering from his recent bout of bronchitis, Francis went on with the show at Birmingham's NEC on Saturday 18th December. Clearly out of sorts, he battled on to an almost sell-out crowd (though he did claim he was pumped full of steroids!), in what would turn out to be the final gig of the year...

The following review of the gig appeared in the Birmingham Mail on December 20th, written by Andy Coleman.

"An excessive workload seems to have taken its toll on Quo frontman Francis Rossi.

After months of promotion for the bands XS All Areas album, DVD and book the singer was struck down with illness forcing cancellation of some dates on their traditional pre-Christmas tour. Fortunately, Saturday's prestigious NEC gig was not one of them.

Rossi lubricated his sore throat with frequent liquid refreshment from a water bottle but when his voice did give out the quo faithful among the near sell out crowd filled in the gaps with gusto. Every year the Quo choir sings louder and longer than the year before.Well done to the lot of you!

It helps that apart from four tracks from the last studio album Heavy Traffic, most of the set now consists of vintage Quo favourites like "Break The Rules", "Paper Plane" and "Big Fat Mama" from their early 70's 'hardcore' era. And this year Quo have even gone all classic rock and included a drum solo in "Gerdundula". Now that really is excessive!"

Another review, this time from the Birmingham Post and written by Paul Vokes.

"The lights went up, a wall of sound rolled out enveloping the audience, who stood up as a man, hands held high above their heads - Status Quo were back at the NEC.

There was a preponderance of denim, T-shirts emblazoned with guitars. Standing next to me a fifty-something portly accountant was playing a really mean air guitar, he was really rocking, this was the 13th time that he had been to their concert.

It is nearly 40 years since Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt formed the band and so an audience of a somewhat elderly composition was expected.

What I found however was the venue full of teenagers - the band have already bridged one generation now they seem to be capturing the grandchildren.

They don't want you to bang your head, just clap your hands jump up and down and have a good time.

For providing this simple pleasure they have been adored by large sections of the British public for more than 30 years and ridiculed by music snobs.

Legs spread wide, guitar riffs, but with new technology, no monitors for that 'foot-up' stance.

From the moment they kicked off with a rousing Caroline to the finish some two hours later with a rock medley, the packed hall of the NEC Arena rocked along to a polished performance by the band who belted out favourites like Whatever You Want, Rockin' All Over The World and Down Down with a passion and vigour that belied their years.

An excellent night out - long live rock 'n' roll. Long live the Quo."

Revisit the December 2004 event list  

18th - Quo article in Birmingham Evening Mail

The following article - entitled "It's been a year of XS for Status Quo" and penned by Andy Coleman - appeared in the Birmingham Evening Mail on December 18th.

"It has been the Year of The Quo. The last 12 months has seen the legendary boogie band release a greatest hits album, single, book and DVD. And guitarist Rick Parfitt has even managed to find time to market a new game.

They also completed a tour of stately homes including Ragley Hall, in the summer and tonight they play their traditional pre-Christmas concert at the NEC.

Using the catch all title of XS All Areas, the hits album features over 40 Quo classics, from 1968's POMM, currently being used as the soundtrack on a TV advert, to their two new singles YCR and TOY.

The accompanying DVD has a similar tracklisting, with the added attraction of witty comments and memories from Rick and Francis.

There are more Parfitt and Rossi recollections in their autobiography, penned with top music journalist Mick Wall. The no holds barred publication recalls the duo's lost years of alchol and cocaine and looks at how the band have become a favourite with the British public.

Rick Parfitt has even turned to designing games. The aim of Rick Parfitt's Name Game is to name as many famous characters, personalities and celebraties whose name corresponds with the two letter cards drawn from the pack.

"We've spent many happy and hilarious hours playing the game on the tour bus," explains Rick. "You cant stop your mind thinking of more names, not only when you go to sleep at night but very often when you wake up the following morning too. This game will drive you mad!"

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21st - Quo on Yorkshire Steam (ITV, UK)

The train-centric show "Yorkshire Steam" fulfilled a Quo fan's dream by arranging for him to meet Francis and Rick. The show opened with "Whatever You Want" while they interviewed Chris (a train carriage cleaner) and they used "Railroad" as the soundtrack while they were cleaning the steam trains, then into "Ain't Complaining".

In part 2 Chris was shown going backstage for a meet & greet with Rick and Francis with edited clips of "All Stand Up" from the 'One and Only' show (which they passed off as the gig he was meant to be attending).

Revisit the December 2004 event list  

undated - Quo article in Performing Rights Society magazine

The following article appeared in the Performing Rights Society magazine at the end of 2004.

"Along with the Bee Gees, The Who and The Rolling Stones, Status Quo are one of the most durable British bands and have been sustained over the years both by their live shows and their extensive catalogue of songs. GARETH THOMAS interviews the writers and finds out what has kept the band going.

It all started back in 1962 with Francis Rossi’s schoolboy band The Spectres. And in 2004 Status Quo are still going, having become in the intervening years a household name. The last 30 years have seen the UK act rack up a stack of awards, play hundreds of concerts and sell tens of millions of copies of their records all over the world.

But it’s not been all plain sailing, especially in terms of their industry dealings. Lead singer and writer Francis Rossi signed with Gordon Mills’ publishing company Valley Music when he was just 16, as long-time Quo co-writer Bob Young relates.

“It was in line with the Pye (record) deal, which was the worst deal you could imagine” says Young. “All publishers had their ways of doing deals and as we later found out, they weren’t deals at source: Germany, say, would pick up 100%, split it 50/50 with the local publisher and then when it reached the UK it would be split 50/50 between the publisher and the writer. So it doesn’t take much to work that out that we were on a very small percentage of the original overseas income.”

It was way back in 1962 that the young Francis Rossi teamed up with Alan Lancaster to write and rehearse their first songs as The Spectres. “It was just something I enjoyed doing” he recalls. Rick Parfitt met the band during their summer season at Butlins in 1965 and, after a couple of name changes, in 1967 they settled on The Status Quo.

In 1968 the group scored their first top ten single Pictures of Matchstick Men written by Rossi. “It was our psychedelic period,” he says. “I was trying to write another Hey Joe and it turned into Matchstick Men.”

That same year former Amen Corner roadie Bob Young met the band, became their road manager and started writing songs with them.

Released in 1970, In My Chair was the first successful result of the Rossi/Young collaboration, which would see them write several dozen Quo songs over the following decade. The transition period (1969/70) from pop to rock was not easy, however. “We played to three people once,” he remembers “But the band still played for an hour and a half and did a couple of encores.!”

It was during this period that the group also managed to get out of their contract with Pye Records and Brian Shepherd, MD at Vertigo – Black Sabbath’s label – signed the band. In 1973 the group released two hit singles: Paper Plane and Mean Girl.

“Around ’73 things started to click.” says Young. We wrote and released Paper Plane and that really started the ball rolling.” It was also then that the so-called Continental World Tour began.

Later in the year the album Hello entered the album chart at No.1 spawning the hit single Caroline. In the following years the hits kept coming. In 1974 Down Down hit the number one spot and in 1975 Roll Over Lay Down went Top 10.

Rossi says the (sometimes criticised) simplistic three chord nature of some of their songs is partly down to the record label capitalising on a successful formula when releasing singles and partly down to the fact he grew up listening to the likes of Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Everly Brothers and Connie Francis. “It was just pop music and it was just good music.” says Rossi. “There’s no need to intellectualise and be snotty about it. It was only when I went to the States that I realised a lot of it was country.”

Young adds: “Francis and I have always been country music fans. If you listen to some of the songs that we’ve written over the years, they’ve started life as country songs: 12 bar-ish work outs. They’ve had country roots, but then the band gets hold of a song and they get rocked up.”

In terms of musical taste, both Rossi and Young are eclectic, citing Green Day, Anastasia, The Streets, Dolly Parton, Muse, White Stripes and Kings of Leon amongst acts and artists they like. As well as Abba.

“This German journalist asked me what music I liked once and I mentioned Abba.” says Rossi. And he said, “I really don’t think you should say that – it’s not good for your image.” I thought, “It may be bad for Abba’s image that I like them – but not mine! I think it’s one of the worst things in our industry that people can’t just say that they like the music. They analyse it instead of going with their heart.

Meanwhile Rick Parfitt was also contributing to the song writing. “I’m very eclectic too” Parfitt says. “I love music right across the board, from Nat King Cole and Fleetwood Mac to Tom Petty and AC/DC.”

In 1976 a Parfitt/Young collaboration, Mystery Song, had reached number 11 and in 1979 Whatever You Want, written by Parfitt and keyboard player Andy Bown, hit the number four spot. “It’s the song I’m most proud of,” says Parfitt. “It was a big hit and has been used in so much advertising since.”

Around 1981 a lot of changes were happening within the band and Young came off the road, parted ways with the band, and began writing more with Micky Moody from Whitesnake. Rossi meanwhile began to write more with Bernie Frost.

“He’s a great singer and a great guitar player,” says Rossi. “But they were different kinds of songs, there weren’t many of them that appeased the hardcore.”

In 1983 Quo produced a hat-trick of hit singles with Ol’ Rag Blues, A mess of The Blues and Marguerita Time, which Rossi had high hopes for. “I thought Marguerita Time was going to change things so much,” he says. “Whether it was the perception of me or the band…I thought it would be a big hit…and it made no difference at all. All it did with our hardcore is that they hated it, which I find really confusing.”

In 1984 Rossi and Parfitt took part in the Band Aid single Do They Know It’s Christmas and performed Rockin’ All Over The World at Live Aid the following year. In 1986 Quo returned with a new line-up, including John “Rhino” Edwards on bass, and recorded the subsequent hits In The Army Now and Dreamin’.

“When we did In The Army the fans were so f**ked off,” says Rossi. “There’s one guy who’s been coming to our gigs for years and he always has a manky old Status Quo banner,” he says. “When we play In The Army Now he puts it over his head in protest…and some of them put dark glasses on!” adds Parfitt.

Around four years ago, Rossi and Young began to spend more time together and, after three months of catching up, started writing again. “We were a good song-writing partnership and it’s as enjoyable now as it has ever been,” says Young. “We’ve always had the same way of writing together. It’s quite casual. We usually just sit down with Francis strumming a guitar, jotting a few lyrics down, getting the first ideas onto a dodgy old cassette player and getting to a point when we feel ready to go into the studio and demo the things.”

Rossi and Young are also now more in control of their publishing situation with their own publishing companies, Get Frannie Music and Get Younger Music. Susan Arnison, previously with Hit & Run Music, takes care of their administration, while Hornall Brothers Music deals with the international collection and the working of their catalogues.Young describes Stuart Hornall, who ran Rondor Music for many years as “someone we can actually pick up the phone and talk to.”

And Young supports the idea of making the old songs work. “We believe a song has a lot more life in it than being recorded once and sitting on a shelf. As an example, Groove Armada and Death In Vegas have recently picked up Quo songs to use.”

The writers also enjoy a good relationship with PRS. “I’ve been ripped off in the past.” says Rossi. “But I’ve never had a problem with PRS. It’s done a wonderful job for everybody. I didn’t realise it was as strong as it is and it’s always on time. PRS is our side of the fence but with the odd publisher it has sometimes felt like us and them.”

Young agrees. “We’re confident in the fact that PRS are out there looking after the income of writers around the world,” he says. “With PRS you know it’s being done properly. I’ve been a PRS member for 36 years and it’s always been a pleasure – every quarter!”

Rick Parfitt meanwhile, who estimates he has had a hand in around a third of Quo’s back catalogue, is now writing with bass player John Edwards. “My writing is quite melodic and that comes from my cabaret days.” he says. “I’ve written some lovely ballads. I’m due for another ballad.”

Rossi/Young have written around a couple of hundred songs for Quo and have already written 50 new songs since they began working together again. Some went on the last album - Heavy Traffic - and after the fortieth anniversary tour and a new album next year, they're hoping to spend a lot more time in the studio.

”I'll maybe do a solo album the year after next" says Rossi. - I don't care who buys it: I just need to make it."

Revisit the December 2004 event list