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That was the Quo month that was ... December 2007

5th - Quo concert at International Arena, Cardiff

Quo played to almost a sell-out crowd in Cardiff on December 5th. The ever-popular "Burning Bridges" made it into the encore (between "In The Army Now" and "Rockin' All Over The World") and was well-received. An excellent collection of professional photos from this show are available here and some fans shots here.

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6th - Rick interview on ThisIsBristol website

The following article, entitled "Ain't Complaining" and by Helen Sloan, appeared on the ThisIsBristol website on December 6th.

"January sees Status Quo celebrate 40 years since their first single, Pictures Of Matchstick Men, reached the top 10 of the singles charts. Forty years on, Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi are still Rockin' All Over The World. Helen Sloan spoke to Rick in the middle of the band's current UK tour

Rick Parfitt has been in the music business for more than 40 years and has done hundreds, probably thousands of interviews, but the legendary Quo co-frontman is still happy to chat. In fact, he positively seems to enjoy the experience."That's for me to know and you to find out," he says mischievously down the phone when asked where he is at the minute. Well, I know from the dialling code that he must be somewhere in London, I tell him.

"I am somewhere in London, that's all you need to know," he says mysteriously, before laughing.

When he spoke to 24seven a couple of weeks back, Rick and Francis had just been to the Classic Rock Awards where they had come home with the Classic Songwriters award. And Rick is delighted to have won such a high honour from the respected rock music magazine

"Oh yeah, it was fantastic," he says. "I was really, really chuffed about that. We don't win that many really, and when you do, we were in such humbling company. It was just unbelievable to be there with the likes of Jimmy Page and Alice Cooper and the guys from Guns 'n' Roses and Steve Tyler from Aerosmith - and that's all the name dropping I'm going to do."

But he could have continued - also present were Tommy Iomi, Jeff Beck, Lemmy - basically every important rocker in the world. Most of them, unlike Status Quo, weren't actually winning anything.

"It was just amazing to be in the same room and to be given an award for songwriting and we're very, very honoured, it was really fantastic."

Photos of the event show both Rick and Francis looking very sharp in their suits.

"Thank you," he says very politely. "Well, I guess you have to make the effort from time to time, put your party gear on. It's not very often you get to wear a suit these days."

When Rick isn't being one of the hardest working men in the music business, he relaxes at home in Spain, where he and his wife have been living for the past year.

"It is a nicer climate and very quiet and very laid back, and we live a very quiet, very peaceful life. It's a lovely contrast to what I do.

"When you come home from the crowds of people and the lights and the noise. You actually think that other people can hear your tinnitus it's that quiet."

They tour so much that Rick and Francis must have spent a fair proportion of their lives on the road - and it turns out that this is something that the band have been thinking about as well.

"We reckon we've spent about 27 years of the past 42 on the road - in our anorak moments when we sit down and try to work it out. But I'm not knocking it. It's been fantastic, it's been great fun.

"Obviously it's had its highs and its lows, but overall I wouldn't swap it for anything else in the world. I've been very lucky."

And despite the fact that they're both in their late 50s now, they're not having any thoughts of retirement.

"It's physically demanding - you do notice it, we're not getting any younger," Rick acknowledges.

"To be skipping and jumping and leaping around the stage and playing and singing at the same time - apart from multi-tasking brain-wise, which takes it out of you anyhow, physically it is quite demanding. But we do look after ourselves a lot better these days. We eat properly and we don't drink too much, and we make sure we're up for getting on that stage, because there's nothing worse than going out there with a hangover."

In making sure that their life on the road is as comfortable as possible, Status Quo have got facilities that would make most touring bands green with envy.

"Oh we've got everything, we're very pampered on the road, I have to say. It's come a long way from the Transit van with the gear in the back. Francis and I have a lovely luxury bus and we have caterers and internet mood rooms and dressing rooms."

After four decades on the road they've certainly earned it, I suggest.

"I think we have," he says modestly. "I'm not apologising for any of it. It's the only way to be on the road, really. You can't go out there and not have the things you want. I mean we're not like some people where the dressing room has to be draped in denim."

This is a reference to diva Jennifer Lopez, who notoriously demanded that her dressing room be draped in white, complete with white furniture, white walls, white carpeting and white flowers.

Looking at the tour dates for their current jaunt, it's a pretty hectic schedule with very little time off between gigs.

"Punishing, I would say," Rick agrees. "Well, at least it keeps us fit."

In fact, Status Quo have long displayed a work ethic that would put most other bands to shame.

When artists get to the stage where they can easily sell out Bristol's biggest venues it's usually the last we see of them here, and fans have to travel to stadiums further afield. But the Quo are once again doubling their workload by playing two nights in a row at the Colston Hall.

"We've always been great believers in going to the people, rather than them come to us, and we've always done that for the last 30-odd years."

But the time has come that the boys are finally recognising that they perhaps should slow down a little bit, so 2007 could be the last chance we get to see Status Quo in Bristol.

"Well, I think this is probably the last year that we do this kind of tour," Rick says. "I think the time has come now where we're going to have to be more selective, it is getting a bit much.

"Probably next year we'll cut it down a bit and just do the arenas. We've got to slow down."

Even still, most bands don't play live as much as Status Quo, and a yearly tour is still above and beyond the call of duty.

"It's quite incredible. I've had people say to me recently, 'What are you doing? Do you want to kill yourself?'

"It's not all beer and skittles, it's not as easy as people think."

But whether watching them live or on the television, it is abundantly clear that when they're on stage they love to play, and Rick agrees that he and Francis still love performing.

"It's the only way to be. We do it because we enjoy it. It's all very well to think of sitting around a swimming pool or by a beach for the rest of your life, but I think you'd die mentally if you did that. You've got to have a challenge and there's got to be something to do.

"I'm sure I could find something to do outside Quo, but if the mothership is there, as it were, why not get on board and go for a trip and have some fun?"

Status Quo have sold millions of records over the years, and remained perennially popular for half a lifetime, but Rick sounds like he still can't believe that his childhood dreams have been realised.

"It's a funny thing. If somebody had told me all those years ago when I started out in this business that we would sell that amount of records and we would still be around 40 years later I would never have believed it in a million years. People are calling us legends now, and stuff like that, and to win this Classic Rock award, it's stuff that dreams are made of.

"And when I was a kid I set out to do this. From the age of 10 I wanted to be a pop star. And to have actually achieved it - I couldn't ask for any more in my life."

Back when they were first successful, Rick did have some dreams of what the future might hold for the band, dreams that now seem incredibly modest when you look at how everything has turned out.

"When Matchstick Men first came out in 1968, we thought if we can hold on to this for five years and put 50 grand in the bank, we'll be made for life. And how wrong we were."

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7th - Quo concert at Manchester Evening News Arena

Photos of Quo in action at the large Manchester Evening News Arena are available here.

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8th - Quo concert at Birmingham NEC

Quo played to a 75% full Birmingham NEC Arena on December 8th, with the now familar setlist including "Burning Bridges" as a crowd-pleaser in the encore. Photos of Quo in action at the NEC are available here.

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9th - Quo concert at Nottingham Arena

Photos of Quo rocking Nottingham Arena on December 9th are available here.

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11th & 12th - Quo concert at Colston Hall, Bristol

Quo did their usual "pair of Bristols" at Colston Hall on December 11th and 12th. While both gigs were packed and rocking, the second night was the pick according to the many fans who were lucky enough to attend both nights! Photos of Quo rocking both nights in Bristol are available here (along with many other shows from the current UK tour).

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15th - Quo concert at Wembley Arena, London

Photos of Quo rocking Wembley Arena on December 15th are available here.

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15th - State of Quo gig at The Greyhound, Wembley

In keeping with Wembley tradition, Quo tribute band State of Quo entertained a huge crowd of Quo fans at The Greyhound pub in Wembley on the afternoon of December 15th, as a pre-cursor to Quo's Wembley Arena show that night. Rhino and B & The North (Quo's support for the entire UK tour) popped in to check the band out and couldn't have been disappointed! The first set saw John Coghlan on the drums, a real treat for the Quo diehards, followed by a second set with more familiar State of Quo drummer Dave Owen on the stool. Some fan photos from the gig are on offer here.

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17th - Quo article in the Bournemouth Echo (UK)

The following article, titled "Wild side of life" and penned by Jeremy Miles, appeared in the Bournemouth Echo on December 17th.

"A FEW eyebrows were raised recently when Status Quo's frontman Francis Rossi lashed out at troubled singers Amy Winehouse and Pete Doherty for sending the wrong message to impressionable young fans.

The 58-year-old rocker, who by his own admission spent much of the 1980s lost in a blizzard of cocaine and booze, was particularly angry about Winehouse being named Woman of the Year by music magazine Mojo.

"Amy is supposed to be great but I can't stick her," growled the Quo frontman. "What message does giving her Woman of the Year send to young people? There has to be some responsibility somewhere, surely? She's not a good role model."

A bit rich perhaps coming from a guitarist whose autobiography, XS All Areas, recounted a regime of two bottles of tequila and three grams of coke a day.

Rossi also dismissed Doherty out of hand saying "At least Amy has serious talent. Pete hasn't got anything. He doesn't count."

However it's unlikely his comment will cause much outrage, for try as he might to be a grumpy old man, the ever outspoken Rossi is generally regarded as something of a national treasure.

Together with Quo co-founder Rick Parfitt, after more than 40 years on the road, he is one of middle England's favourite reformed wild men of rock.

The pair, who have been likened to the Morcambe and Wise of the music business, can relate terrible tales of their past excesses with impunity. While the tabloids hover ready to pounce on the younger generation of pop party people at the faintest suggestion of powder or pills, Quo regularly tell tales of extraordinary excess without anyone batting an eyelid.

As their latest marathon UK tour hit the road, Rossi's comments on Winehouse and Doherty caused little reaction. After all it was just Quo gobbing off again and that's all grist to the mill for this band whose heads down no nonsense boogie has delighted fans and dismayed critics for so long that they've become part of Britain's heritage.

Both Rossi and Parfitt have cleaned up their acts considerably since the days when they used to cruise cashpoint machines at every town they played gathering the hundreds of pounds it cost in drug bills just to get them on stage.

Gone are the days when Rossi would need a toot of coke just to get out of bed and Parfitt would wake up and ask his wife why the dining room furniture was at the bottom of the swimming pool before being informed that that's where he threw it the night before.

Rossi told me that he eventually realised that his belief that they were "just like everyone else" was a little wide of the mark.

"Every Friday night people come home from work and hit the town.They get drunk and they get stoned.

"The difference is they don't carry on doing it seven nights a week," he said. "We did it for ten years and that's really not a very good idea."

When Quo arrive at the Bournemouth International Centre on Friday for the final night of their 2007 winter tour it is of course entirely possible, indeed probable, that a large percentage of the audience will be unlikely to have indulged in even a small festive sherry.

For these days a Quo show is family entertainment with the atmosphere of an annual Christmas party.

Indeed after 20 visits to the BIC in 21 years - most of them in November or December - that's exactly what the yearly Quo visit has become.

The fact is the band - particularly following Parfitt's quadruple heart by-pass operation and throat cancer scare - are far more mellow these days than Rossi's waspish swipe at Winehouse and Doherty might suggest.

They even make fun of their detractors' claims that they are three chord wonders.

Indeed the tour, and their latest album, are both knowingly titled In Search of the Fourth Chord. For, whatever anyone says about them, Quo are happy in the knowledge that they are one of Britain's most enduring live acts.

They have sold more than 112 million records worldwide and had more hit albums in the British charts that any band other than the Rolling Stones. In Search of the Fourth Chord is their 33rd, and a recording that has found them reunited with Pip Williams, the man who produced Quo classics like Rockin' All Over World, Whatever You Want and In the Army Now.

Friday night at the BIC will, I'm sure, find them in celebratory mood. Not only because it's the last night of the tour but also because its further proof that they are survivors."

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20th - Quo concert at Hallam Arena, Sheffield

An excellent set of professional photos of both B & The North and Quo in action in Sheffield on December 20th (the penultimate show of the UK leg of the "In Search of the Fourth Chord" tour) are on offer here.

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21st - Quo concert at Bournemouth International Centre

The final gig of the UK leg of the "In Search of the Fourth Chord" tour took place at the ever-popular Bournemouth International Centre on December 21st. The large crowd enjoyed the familiar set and gave Quo a roaring send off for Christmas. An impromptu performance of "Jingle Bells" (initiated by Rick) during "Gerdundula" was a particular highlight of the show, with Francis looking on in bewilderment!

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27th - Quo special on Classic 21 radio, Belgium

Belgian radio station, Classic 21, ran a one-hour Quo special on December 27th. Introduced by Pierre Guyaut and Philippe Duponteil (author of the hefty Quo book, "Le Route Sans Fin"), the show included a number of excellent interview snippets from Francis and Rick (with Philippe) as well as plenty of Quo tunes, including "Alright", "Don't Waste My Time" (live at the Reading Festival 1973), "Down Down" (from Montreaux), "Bad News", "Caroline (live at the NEC 1982) and "Living On An Island" (demo version). Who could argue with this comment from Francis? "If you like Status Quo music, we do it really well now"!

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