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That was the Quo month that was ... July 2008

1st - Quo concert at NTC Sibamac Arena, Bratislava, Slovakia

Quo kicked off their mini-tour of Eastern Europe with a gig in Slovakia on July 1st. The Sibamac Arena is a purpose-built tennis centre (home to Davis Cup matches) and, although it was not sold out, a decent crowd of around 2000 saw Quo perform the following set.

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8th - Quo concert at Orpheum, Graz, Austria

The first of three gigs in Austria saw Quo performing at the small Orpheum club in Graz on July 8th. The club was packed with about 1000 fans and they were treated to a very intimate Quo experience. Photos of the band in action in Graz can be found here and here.

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9th - Quo concert at Gasometer, Vienna (Wien), Austria

Quo performed at Vienna's Gasometer as the second of three gigs in Austria on July 9th. Photos of the band in action in Vienna can be found here.

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12th - Quo concert at Moon and Stars Festival, Piazza Grande Locarno, Switzerland

Quo performed as part of the Moon and Stars festival in Locarno, Switzerland, on July 12th. The event, held in the beautiful main square called the Piazza Grande, hosted a range of other international acts, including REM, Santana, Vasco Rossi, Paul Simon, James Blunt and Lenny Kravitz. Support for the Quo night was well-known 70s outfit, Nazareth, who played a 45-minute set with a focus on their hits, with rain starting to fall from about halfway through their performance. Quo finally took the stage at about 9.45pm and played the familiar Summer 2008 set, with "Juniors Wailing" rather than "Burning Bridges" after the break. Thankfully, the rain stopped just as they finished "Roll Over Lay Down" and the rain didn't really dampen the spirits of the encouragable crowd anyway.

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18th - Quo concert at Rochester Castle, Rochester

Quo returned to the castle circuit with a gig in the gardens of Rochester Castle in Kent on July 18th. The support act was Mrs Loud (aka Lorraine Crosby), fronted by the girl who dueted with Meatloaf on the single "I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)", but the crowd was only there for Quo and were treated to the usual set in these fine historic surrounds. Photos of the lads on stage can be found here, here and here.

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23rd - Quo concert at Cognac Blues Festival, Cognac, France

The Cognac Blues Festival ran from 22-27 July and featured Quo as the headline act on July 23rd. Warmed up by Steve Lukather, Quo didn't take the stage until 11pm but the evening air was warm and the skies clear (for once!). The usual Summer festival set was trotted out, with Rhino struggling on after his wireless bass failed to complete the gig with a guitar complete with old-fashioned cabling!

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25th - Quo concert at The British International Motor Show, ExCeL, London

Quo played at the British International Motor Show held at the ExCel centre in London's Docklands area on July 25th. The large crowd enjoyed the usual Summer set list and photos of the band in action at this unique venue can be found here, here and here.

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25th - Francis interview in The Western Mail (Wales)

The following interview with Francis Rossi appeared in The Western Mail newspaper on July 25th, entitled "Rock stars are boring, says Quo's Rossi" by Gavin Allen.

"Francis Rossi is as recognisable for his greying pony tail as he is for the band’s stereotypical three-chord classic rock. But the Status Quo frontman tells Gavin Allen he doesn’t care that he’s never been considered cool.

The subject of age is almost unavoidable when you’re talking to Francis Rossi, but he’s used to that – even Status Quo’s own gig promoters are ramming it down his throat.

Tomorrow, Quo, the band he conceived in 1962, will perform at Cyfarthfa Castle in Merthyr Tydfil on what its promoters are billing as their 40th Anniversary tour.

“I’m sick to death of anniversaries,” he rasps down the phone from the studio at his Surrey home in a moment of uncharacteristic frustration.

“This tour is actually the 40th anniversary of (debut single) Matchstick Men charting, but there was a 40th anniversary of when me and Alan Lancaster started the band in 2002, then a 40th for when Rick joined the band in 2005, now this.

“It doesn’t mean we are a great band just because we have kept going. Enough people like us to keep us going and that’s all it is.

“Doing the anniversary thing all the time is like battering the public over the head with what you have to offer but that’s the way this industry is.”

Rossi is like the Obi-Wan Kenobi of rock, shuffling out of the wilds of relevance to which he was long ago exiled by those who dismiss Quo as uncool.

But the difference is that when rambling through entertaining anecdotes and wise observations, where he speaks with first hand knowledge of bygone rock Jedis, he eschews the kind of myth-making self-aggrandisement that concerns so many rock stars.

He does the opposite.

“With this being showbusiness we should really say that we have a great show for people, that we have a giant lemon that comes out of the stage and scantily clad stripper girls – but we haven’t,” he laughs.

“Everyone in this industry has to say ‘this is going to be the greatest show ever’ or ‘we are the best band ever’ but we aren’t.

“We are just the band you are going to see tomorrow. The best band in the world is subjective, it’s always the one you like best.

“Look at the biggest-selling albums of all time – The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, Michael Jackson – and take the Michael Jackson album for instance. If it sold 45 million copies worldwide, well, that just means 245 million people didn’t buy it, so it’s all relative.

“Showbusiness is 95% bull and the other 5% is just more bull.”

That’s a typically pragmatic view from the eminently reasonable Rossi but where, for instance, Bruce Springsteen is lauded for being so down to earth, it’s their very normality that is used to grind Quo in the mud of blandness.

Rossi is a witty and worldly bloke, generous with his time and very approachable, and far from boring.

But it may be the case that having done pretty much all there is to do in this celebrity-obsessed showbiz circus, there isn’t much left to excite him, there’s not even nostalgia for the great ages or names of rock.

“We do our best to put on a show for people but the truth is great musicians are boring,” he offers.

“Look at Jimmy Hendrix, he still had to set fire to his guitar and play it behind his back and with his teeth, otherwise he was just another guitar player. And what about Pink Floyd? At some point someone must have said to them ‘you’re great musicians but Christ you’re boring’ and the band said ‘Ok then, we’ll get some lasers in’.”

Rossi won’t be setting fire to anything tomorrow and lasers will be discretionary, but he is happy to be returning to a part of the world they regularly toured in the band’s early days.

“How do I say it ... Cafaarfa?,” he says stretching his ‘A’s with a working-class London accent.

“Because of my eyes I thought we were playing Carmarthen Castle for a while.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve been up in that part of the world, I remember playing Abergavenny quite a lot when we were younger. It’s funny how those places seem to get left off the circuit these days.”

The gig brings back memories of their famous gig at Cardiff Castle with Hawkwind in the late ’70s.

But Rossi and Quo colleague Rick Parfitt aren’t interested in recapturing their youth or living in the past. They are interested in the simple things, delivering a good show for their loyal fans, having fun on stage and writing good songs.

In their long career Rossi most values the late ’70s when he says the band were at their creative peak, and most regrets the mid ’90s when they, like many artists, were dragged into the cover version graveyard.

Rossi is a survivor and perhaps if he had made himself a little more ostentatious, the collective consciousness would remember him and his band better than as a pony-tailed three-chord stereotype.

Rossi is a man undone – in rock myth-smithery – by his own guitar hand."

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26th - Quo concert at Cyfarthfa Castle, Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales

Quo played in the magnificent surroundings of Merthyr's Cyfarthfa Castle on July 26th. Photos of the band on stage can be found here and here. The following review of the gig appeared in the South Wales Echo on July 28th.

"STATUS Quo at Cyfarthfa Park. What a brilliant idea. Why didn’t somebody think of it before?

This was a fantastic event in Merthyr Tydfil which lasted almost 11 hours with a series of talented Welsh bands, starting at noon and finishing with Quo’s goodbye late into the evening.

The last time I saw an outdoor concert by Status Quo was in 1986 at Milton Keynes Bowl, the final gig on their End of the Road tour. Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi were still young men – and I was even younger.

Cyfarthfa Park, Merthyr Tydfil, after 40 years of rocking, was an excellent venue for one of the best Quo concerts I have ever attended. And I’ve been to quite a few.

They are as powerful, loud and brilliant as ever. The sound was spot-on, helping to make it a special atmosphere on a warm, sunny day.

Status Quo’s reputation is built on their live performances and they are still maintaining a relentless pace around the UK and Europe with concerts packed in between now and the end of the year.

They opened at Cyfarthfa Park with Caroline (1973) and swept through their greatest hits including Down Down (1975), Rockin’ All Over the World (1979), In The Army Now (1981) and more.

It was far from packed in the arena at Cyfarthfa Park, but there were quite a few thousand people there for the Quo, who went on at 9pm and finished almost two hours later.

For me, American support band Hayseed Dixie, from Nashville Tennessee, just didn’t fit the occasion, but that disappointment was more than offset by talented local bands One Hot Puppet, the Suspects, the Oratorios, Enormous Sizes, Celtic Pride, the Lost Republic and Along Came Man.

Gwent’s Along Came Man attended as winners of the Battle of the Bands, while ex-Stereophonics drummer Stuart Cable was main stage compere, co-producer of the concert and played with his new band Killing For Company.

Cyfarthfa Park is a natural venue for concerts. Donny Osmond was a success, while Status Quo lit up the night with their own brand of music. Surely there is more music to come at the Park."

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31st - Woodedz gig at The Peel, Kingston

Rhino played with his soon in the Woodedz at The Peel in Kingston on July 31st. The gig served as a warm-up for their forthcoming appearance at the Bulldog Bash in August and photos of the guys doing their thing can be found here.

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