This great report comes from Patrick Cusse. Brilliant work!
Left at about 10.30 in the morning, crossed the border (LH - from Belgium) just north of Lille, and headed for a parking lot where I was going to pick up my friend Jan, former drummer of the legendary Belgian band The Machines. This was supposed to be the worst day of the year to drive through France, as the middle weekend of July usually is, so we'd thought we'd leave early. About two and a half hours later we were in Montereau, 300k south of Lille, and I can honestly say I have never ever seen so few cars on the roads around Paris.
Montereau is small town on a river, nice church, nice castle, like most small French towns. And very quiet, even on the first day of a three day rock festival. We strolled through town, looking for a bar with a TV so we could watch the Tour de France, and accidently found the festival ground, basically just a municipal park. Found a bar 300 yards from the entrance, had a decent meal, had a beer, watched the Tour, walked out of the bar, crossed the street, and heard someone shout my name. Turned around, and there's Quolink and his friend Johan. They had done Quo in Aachen the night before.
We were still kind of wondering when all the people would turn up. When we got the park, there were at least 20 people there, and the first act had already started, a French guy who did bluesy stuff accompanied by one guy on an acoustic guitar, both completely out of tune, and unfortunately they couldn't agree on the tune they were probably not even looking for. An hour later, second act, and the crowd had at least doubled, maybe even quadrupled, might even have reached 100. At 8.30 Dan Baird and the Georgia Satellites went on stage, and performed a rocking set of untidily played new and old songs. The small crowd didn't seem to mind the numerous mistakes that were propably due to a combination of alcohol and heat. On stage that is, not in the crowd. Because there was hardly anybody there, and beer was bloody expensive.
At 9.30 pm Jan and I were at the backstage entrance for our meet & greet with Quo, kindly arranged by Peta at Duroc. Unfortunately, the security guy there didn't have a clue what that meant, not even when I explained it in French, and not even when I showed him the Quo letter asking me to be there at 9.30 and ask for Dave Salt. He got somebody else who didn't get it either, then got somebody else who vaguely understood, and who led us to Quo's dressing room where an unhappy Dave Salt told us we shouldn't be there and he would come and fetch us - which he did five minutes later. Had a short chat with Matt and Andy first (when Matt asked me my name, Andy immediately said 'It's still Patrick', and I'd only met him once for about three seconds. 'Never forget a face', he smiled). Francis and Rick then came out of the container type dressing room. Francis, obviously in a good mood, immediately started joking about my long and real hair. I asked him one of the burning questions: how's The Oriental going. To which he replied, with than grin of his: 'tadi dadi daditatatata, I like that one.' So, sorry ladies and gents, no scoops today. I then asked them the question I really wanted to ask: would they agree to sign a couple of the charity unplugged CDs once they are ready, so we can auction and raffle those off on the board and at food clubs. The answer was yes, and Dave Salt kindly agreed to arrange this. Dave was also kind enough to take some photos. I have to admit I am very happy that I finally had my picture taken with them, 17 years after my first gig. When my band opened for Quo in Brussels last year, we never got a chance to meet them (when we had finished our soundcheck, they were eating, and when we were eating, they were taking their nap, and when they did their meet & greet, we were on stage, et cetera). Rhino, who did see us, didn't feel like coming out of the dressing room. Guess he just didn't feel like it, maybe he had a headache, maybe his thoughts were someplace else, whatever, it's perfectly okay with me (but I can't help wonder if maybe it was because he saw the santa hat dangling from my belt. To be perfectly honest, if I were him, that's what I might do. Just look at the number of anti-Rhino posts on the board the last couple of weeks, and the way they are written. I said it before: Rhino gets more crap poured over him than Bush).
Anyway: 10 pm, the gig. Probably about 1500 billy. From the first note of Caroline to the last of Bye Bye Johnny, they all seemed incredibly relaxed. Maybe it was the coziness of the event. You put a small number of people in a large enclosed area in front of a huge stage, and you can just about make eye contact with everybody. And you can hear what everybody says. So Francis got into a few funny conversations with some people in the audience, talked about the castle they visited, et cetera. Other funny point: he did his usual introduction to Mystery Song, only he did it when 4500 Times was up. So the introduction ended with .... 'thing called Mystery song', three seconds of pause, and then 'er, no it's not', spotting Rick had the wrong guitar for that one. Never seen Francis so relaxed. He fooled around with lyrics the whole show, including the odd French word.
But the Spinal Tap moment came during All Stand Up. Remember, it was a hot summer night, near a river, and there are lots of lights on stage. So all the flies and moths and mosquitos of Montereau are checking out the party. Francis had already been waving his arms every chance he got, and after about a minute of All Stand Up one of the bugs flies into his mouth, and while continuing to play he starts coughing and spitting. 'I like French flies. You can taste the garlic. I like garlic', he joked afterwards. Just one of those moments that will stick in my mind for a long, long time. I haven't seen Quo hundreds of times like some of you, but this was without a doubt one of the weirdest. It never really felt like I was at a huge rock concert, it felt like I was at a garden party. It was almost as intimate as BB King's. Of course, that's not how the organiser wanted it. After Quo, he came on stage and urged everybody to call their friends and families to bring them along on days two and three, 'sinon on ne s'en sortira jamais'. Meaning he will probably be paying off debts for the rest of his life. I hope for his sake ZZ Top gets a good crowd on Monday.
On the other hand, he showed very little respect for those that were there, and his little festival cannot cope with bigger crowds. And here's why: exactly 10 toilets. And what's more: no toiletpaper and no water in any of them. Absolutely disgusting. What is it with France and toilets anyway? Three weeks ago in Holland (Lichtenvoorde) there were hundreds and hundreds of toilets for 30.000 people with plenty of free drinking water, and they were all clean the whole day. And France, the country that gave us Versailles and Victor Hugo and Monet and Toulouse-Lautrec has no seats on 90 percent of its bogs. Or is there a Toilet Seat Ranch in France somewhere, a bit like the Cadillac Ranch in the US? Anyway, so on the way back, with Quolink happily snoring (he switched taxi drivers on the way back), I had a good crap at a petrol station. There was no toilet seat, of course, but at least there was paper. Got home at about 3.40 am. Tired, but happy. The end.Revisit the July 2003 event list
The following interview with Rick appeared on Sky News Online on July 17th.
ROCKIN' RICK'S SCOT PLEA
Veteran rock group Status Quo's Rick Parfitt has urged fans to turn out in force for the band's first ever outdoor gig in Scotland.
Quo's lead guitarist says he is expecting a "great gig" at the Knockhill racing circuit in Fife next month.
It will be the first time a music concert has been held at the venue, which could take a crowd of up to 10,000. The long-haired rocker said: "This is the first time we have played outdoors in Scotland in the summer and, weather permitting, it should be a great gig. "Generally Scottish audiences have always been a very feisty lot and Quo over the years has become very popular up here."
Status Quo will celebrate their 40th anniversary in 2005.
Parfitt said: "We see ourselves as the people's band because we always go to the people, out on tour. I certainly hope that we will keep going and as long as we are fit we will do it. It's kind of like a workout in a gym, with running, jumping, skipping, singing and playing. After two hours you come off feeling satisfied with a great show but it also keeps you fit, so its very rewarding in every way."
Quo have had 58 British hit singles, the first in 1968, including classics like Rockin' All Over The World, Whatever You Want and Down Down.Revisit the July 2003 event list
Quo fans were in for a treat when a nearby gig on the same day as the British Grand Prix was cancelled and their tickets suddenly became eligible for entry to the Grand Prix and an after-race show by Quo!
Before the race, Rick could be seen wandering the grid and chatting to the drivers in what must have been a dream come true for him, given his love of fast cars! Following the exciting main race, the music stage became the focus of events and a large crowd remained to witness some great live music.
First up was Damon Hill and his band, "The Six Pistons". They performed a well-received set of classic rock covers including "Born To Be Wild", "Can't Get Enough", "Start Me Up" and "Feel Like Making Love". Kicking off with Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain" (the old intro music for Grand Prix coverage on the BBC), they could do no wrong and they were joined by Paul Stewart (son of famous driver, Jackie) on guitar for part of their set.
Next up were Eddie Jordan's outfit, "V10". Then ITV's introducer Tony Jardine took the stage to interview some of the drivers from the Grand Prix, Jackie Stewart, Page 3 girl Jodie Marsh and some others - before it was time for Quo to take the stage.
Despite a few sound problems to begin with, Quo soon got into their swing and cranked out a familiar, if slightly shortened, set ("Solid Gold", "Heavy Traffic", "Big Fat Mama" and "Juniors Wailing" all failed to make it into the set this time).
During "Bye Bye Johnny", Eddie Jordan, Jodie Marsh and Damon Hill all joined Quo on stage for the finale. A great promo event for all concerned!
For some photos from the after-race events, click here.Revisit the July 2003 event list
The BBC2W digital TV service's "Cable TV" show (channel 961 of Sky Digital in Europe) is hosted by Stuart Cable of Welsh act, The Stereophonics. He chatted to Francis and Rick, who then performed live, and compared G-strings with Peter Stringfellow.Revisit the July 2003 event list
A good set of photos of Quo in action in Jersey is available by clicking here.Revisit the July 2003 event list
An embarrassing incident at the British Grand Prix saw Rick's wife Patti get a mention in the London Evening Standard, on July 23rd. The following is an extract from an article entitled "High Drama", by Melanie McDonagh.
"There are not that many occasions when I feel a sense of womanly solidarity with Rick Parfitt's seriously glamorous blonde wife, Patti. But the moment at Silverstone racetrack where she found that the heel of her stiletto shoe was firmly embedded in a metal grate, where it stayed until she was extricated by her rock-star husband, was one of them."Revisit the July 2003 event list
The following review is once again from interpid traveller Patrick Cusse.
Every village and town in Belgium has a a summer festival, and so has Tienen. Suikerrock, it's called, meaning Sugarrock, referring to the sugar industry in the area. Cozy market square, with three bands on the first night of the festival.
First up, the Old Bastards, a group of Belgian seventies rockers from different bands who form a sort of all-star cast, but they couldn't really get the crowd going, my guess because half of the songs aren't really that memorable anymore, apart from the ones written and sung by Guy Swinnen. Brilliant lead guitar player he is as well.
Next up: Flemish rockers The Kreuners, been around for ages. They're not getting any younger either, quite static on stage, but I was a big fan in my teens, and it was fun to hear and sing the hits again and see my friend Ben behind his drumkit.
And then Quo did what they do. Not the most energetic crowd I have ever seen (could have been the rain, maybe the sound, but I was too far to the front to form an idea about that), and I thought Francis and Rhino looked a bit tired (or maybe it was just the rain being blown on stage by a strong headwind, at least the rain washed the mosquitos and flies away), but I had a fantastic time, as always, with Thierry and Johan next to me.
And by the way, Rick and Francis, when are you going to get all the lyrics right in All Stand Up? You're confusing those of us who sing along.
I am also happy to say the santa hat worked its wonders again. Not only do the people who know you spot you easily, there are also plenty of Quo fans out there who read what goes on in our community, and don't post much, or don't post at all. I ran into Jay, and I met Quofever, Luc, Fireball and Loe for the first time. And I talked to Wil Mout, the drummer of the Dutch band Dog of 2 Head, and her husband Rob, and of course Headbang Animal and his posse. And Freddy from the Loyal family, with his girlfriend and great kid. Only four or five, already his third Quo gig. Wants to be a drummer. When he spotted my santa hat, he asked me: 'Are you Santa?' 'No, but I'm a very good friend of his', I replied . 'Can you ask him for a drumkit?' he immediately hit back at me. I looked at his dad, he nodded, and I said yes, I'll talk to the man, you'll get your drumkit. Felt good. And to my personal satisfaction quite a few people recognised me from when we opened for Quo in Brussels last year and came over to tell me they enjoyed it. The most pleasant remark was that English female voice I heard all of a sudden: 'Are you in that mad band?' Trisha, English woman who lives in Liège. Nice meeting you, Trisha.
Now, why am I so tired? I'll tell you why. Because I had to make a little 140km detour on the way home to drop of Quolink and Hughie, that's why. Both of them snoring all the way. Yes, the drum stick collecting boss man of the Loyal Family and his house guest, the huggable I-want-no-friggin-icecubes-in-my-vodka Rangers fan needed a ride home. Quolink, a postman, had been up for nearly 24 hours, and Hughie was in that little alcohol induced world of his own, so I thought it best to drop them off. And just to illustrate how far gone Hughie was: after the opening act, on my way to the toilet in one of the bars on the square, I passed a table where Hughie and a chap whose name I have forgotten, were both holding a wrapped condom up in the air. Hughie then proceeded to get up, and fall flat on his face. Ah, the memories our little Quo family are giving me keep piling up.Revisit the July 2003 event list
Quo in Liverpool always attracts good media attention - and this becanvassed return was no exception. First up, an article from the Liverpool Echo newspaper, just prior to the gig (published July 25th), entitled "Status symbol".
"FRANCIS ROSSI says he is looking forward to coming back to 'the tent' as Status Quo affectionately call the Summer pops venue.
"We were well pleased to hear that we were playing there again. It's a big Liverpool gig for us and there's always a fantastic crowd. The last time we played there we all agreed it was the best date on that tour. We didn't know what to expect but soon got into the atmosphere.
"Of course I have a lot of affinity with Liverpool with my grannie coming from there, from Crosby. I was only talking today about how gran used to give local train drivers half a crown tip if they were good. They didn't get anything if she didn't' rate them."
Quo will be playing material from their vast back-catalogue of 31 albums and 58 singles tomorrow night. They are regarded as one of the hardest-working bands in the business with a solid fan base across Europe.
"We do care about all our fans - that is why we go out so much on the road to go and see them," says Francis.
"We all love the job. I remember playing to a stadium full of 35,000 fans in a heavy metal line-up that included Metallica. There was this great feeling of seeing so many people in one place having a rocking, fun time. "I still get a tingle in my stomach when I am ready to go on. I'll never lose that and I know Rick feels the same."
Rick Parfitt is the other original member of the band. They are joined by Andrew Bown, John Cerhino (sic) Edwards and Matt Letley.
"At Liverpool we will be doing a lot of stuff from our last album, Heavy Traffic, which I believe is our best work to date," adds Francis.
"I am genuinely amazed that we have all age groups who come to see us. I look out some times and see people who have grown up with us and who now bring their own kids."
Being in Quo he says is a labour of love. That is why they will give themselves a two-week holiday later in the year and then get back on the road with another trek, this time called The Riffs which will be the title of their next album.
There will be a gig at Southport in November and the Philharmonic in December.
Says Francis: "I was lying down the other day in between gigs and I heard all these guitars and drums going on in the background during a loud soundcheck. It was music to my ears. It got me in the mood to get back on stage.
"Like I say, I know that tingle in my stomach will never go away."
The sell-out gig was a huge success, the band playing the following set list (following a support slot by Trilby):
Following the gig, two local newspapers (The Daily Post and the Liverpool Echo) published reviews of the show. These reviews follow, the first from the Post, entitled "Quo Rock The Pops" by Andrew Judge.
"Still recording and touring after all these years, Status Quo prove you can’t keep old rockers down...down...deeper and down.
The two remaining originals, Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt, have been the main men of various Quo line-ups but this is by far the tightest outfit in their career. They are augmented by drums, keyboards and guitar who all work well together on stage with a chemistry that is infectious.
You know they are having as much fun as the wide age group audience which now contains a lot of youngsters finding Quo for the first time. Opening with “Caroline”, the beat went on and on as they promised material for the hard-core fans as well as fans less acquainted with the legend.
The stage, decorated in huge white amps, looked like a scene from a sci-fi film. One huge banner paid tribute to their latest album called “Heavy Traffic” – regarded by Francis Rossi as their best.
They treated the enthusiastic crowd to a few tracks, including “Creeping Up On You”, “Solid Gold” and the anthem-like “All Stand Up”. The crowd, however had been standing on their feet from song one and needed no such encouragement for the latter rocker. And then there were the established hits including “Roll Over Lay Down”, “Rocking All Over The World” – the Live Aid favourite and Rick Parfitt’s “Mystery Song”. “Whatever You Want” gave the audience a chance to sing along as Francis kept on urging them to be loud.
He kept chatter to a minimum and Rick never said a word as he let the songs speak volumes, bouncing along the stage in his white trainers. Both Francis and Rick ran to either side of the huge platform to see their fans and give them a friendly thumbs up.
The Summer Pops tent is a particular favourite of theirs and this was yet another successful visit to Merseyside. After they get their breath again they will embark on a 40 date tour in the winter going to smaller venues and promising to play Merseyside.
Playing live is a joy to Status Quo and they really show it. They included a bit of Celtic country rock and a roaring Chuck Berry medley of his classic hits.
It’s like seeing old friends back in town – and long may they rock and roll. See you soon, lads."
And now the Echo review, entitled "Here We Go-o, Rockin' All Over The Tent" by Dave Booth.
"In the ‘70s Denim was the aftershave for men who didn’t have to try too hard. Status Quo were the band for men who didn’t think too hard. Pub rockers with catchy riffs, even in their heyday Quo were more unfashionable than most.
Then, just when it looked like there was nowhere for the masters of the three-chord anthem to go, the Sarf London likely lads turned up at Wembley to launch Live Aid all over the world.
That was 18 years ago and they’re still at it. Their army of fans have come of age too. A near full house of rockers were bouncing around the aisles of the King’s Dock, thumbs jammed into the top of their jeans to do the Quo jive just like they did in ’75.
And it wasn’t just the boys. There were plenty of one-time rock chicks around who’d splashed out on some trendy new denim wear for the right to prove they still fancy the pants off Rick Parfitt (the one who looks like a girl) and Francis Rossi (the one who looks like a Romany chieftan).
The band’s founder members might have gone way past the other side of half a century but 50, allegedly, is the new 40 these days and these fellers’ choice of drugs must be multi vitamins. Rossi says he keeps sprightly with a glass of sangria, yoga and a good wife. Allegedly.
There were kids too, sitting on their dads’ shoulders to witness the rituals of the tribe. A Quo concert could become a family tradition; like Christmas with the in-laws or Bank Holidays at B&Q. And they were excellent value. After seeing off the opposition over a 35-year, 30-hit career, Quo have honed their good time boogie to perfection.
They kicked off with “Caroline” and delivered most of their faves in a near-perfect set of an hour and three-quarters, including “Rockin’ All Over The World”, “Whatever You Want” and “Down Down”. There were a couple of songs from the classic “Blue For You” Album – “Rain” and “Mystery Song” and four tracks from their latest release “Heavy Traffic” stood up well in comparison.
An entertaining medley of Chuck Berry hits “Carol”, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Music” and “Johnny B Goode” had the crowd in full throttle.
Great rock ‘n’ roll never goes out of style.
RATING 9 out of 10 – Whatever You Want."Revisit the July 2003 event list