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That was the Quo month that was ... May 2006

1st - Quo concert at Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide

The third night in a row for Quo's 2006 tour downunder, this time at Adelaide's Thebarton Theatre. After landing in Adelaide mid-afternoon, we settled into our hotel before heading out for a wander. Within minutes of leaving our hotel, we bumped into Andy Bown strolling casually along Rundle Street (he gave generously to a homeless chap just before we saw him) and also spotted Steve Morse (lead guitarist from Deep Purple) also sampling the delightful cool and drizzly Adelaide afternoon.

Arriving at the Thebarton Theatre before doors opened, a long queue snaked around the front of the theatre and along an adjacent side street. As it turned out, queuing was optional and a foray to the front of the venue saw us simply walk right in. The lobby and bars of the theatre were totally packed, an indication of the sell-out crowd (recall that this show sold out in a matter of hours, the only show to experience such demand for tickets on the Australian tour). We made our way to our "lounge" seating for the support act, to find we were on the balcony literally sitting in two-seater leather couches! Very laid back and fine for the support (female-led acoustic outfit "Cosmic Storm", who were well received by the already crowded theatre), but we opted to make alternative arrangements to witness the Quo show!

By way of a few cheeky ticket swaps with friends in the front rows, we managed to position ourselves downstairs near the stage in readiness for when Quo appeared on stage. By 8pm, the Thebby was jam-packed and very noisy as the waiting masses grew impatient for the show aproper to start. As the lights dimmed, we made a dash for it along the centre aisle and ended up about four rows from the stage, right in front of Francis. This would be a great spot from which to watch the show unfold, amidst the encouragable and very vocal Adelaide crowd.

The audience were up for it right from the off and their enthusiasm was all the food Quo needed to put in a very physical performance, with Francis in particular lapping up their attention. They played the same set as the previous night in Melbourne (so sadly no "Belavista Man" here) and had tightened up another notch, seemingly finding their gig feet again after the long lay off.

For the first time on this tour, Rick showed off one of his Facelift designs and it seemed to go down well! "Gerdundula" got one of the biggest receptions of the night, even if Rhino stuffed it up during the neck-swapping routine. Any remaining "bums on seats" were dealt with by the opening chords of "Roll Over Lay Down", a relief for Francis who'd been thoroughly chastising a number of the seated folk near the front for the entire gig (and enjoying it no end!). From thereon in, it was party mode all the way and even the Purple fans had to get in on the act to enjoy the closing triplet of "Down Down", "Whatever You Want" and "Rockin' All Over The World".

It was only a brief interval before Deep Purple took the stage and they never looked like maintaining the audience participation that ended the Quo set. Despite an excellent light show, much of the front rows remained firmly planted on their seats and it was only the more popular material such as "Hush", "Smoke On The Water", "Highway Star" & "Black Knight" that got the crowd whipped up once more. The Purple sound was way too loud and not easy to listen to, in stark contrast to the excellent balanced sound that Quo achieved here.

It's always great to be part of a sell-out audience and Quo really worked the Thebarton masses well, to pull off their most polished show of the Australian tour so far. Just before we left Adelaide the next day, we once again bumped into Andy Bown doing a little shopping and he agreed that the band had enjoyed a good show in Adelaide. Next stop Twin Towns...

The following review appeared in the Adelaide Advertiser on May 4th.

"There was a time at a hard rock concert when fans would hold aloft cigarette lighters. Not anymore. They hold up mobile phones taking pictures of their idols.

So it was at the Thebby for the Double Trouble show starring Status Quo and Deep Purple - a head-banging combination if ever there was one.

Quo were superb, starting with "Caroline", playing a string of favourites and ending up with thumping "Whatever You Want". Purple were more subduded. Even a brilliant lighting show could not stir the crowd up to start with. Fans were not keen on some of their new material - they were hanging out for songs such as "Lazy" and "Space Truckin" which they got towards the end of Purple's 70-minute set. Naturally, they finished with "Smoke On The Water".

That's hard heavy rock and the mobile phones were out in force."

Photos from both the Quo and Deep Purple sets can be found here.

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3rd - Francis and Rick on "Spicks and Specks" (ABC Australia)

Francis and Rick appeared on Australian ABC TV's "Spicks and Specks" music quiz show on May 3rd. The show features opposing teams of three players, with Rick on one side and Francis on the other for this episode. They both fitted in very well to the laid-back style of the show, but Francis' team easily won whilst Rick seemed more interested in the two ladies on his team!

There were many Quo mentions, including the introductions of Rick and Francis, various footage, playback of Quo's version of "Spicks and Specks" and also Quo songs in the drawing competition. Rick drew the biggest groan from the audience all night with his pun "When was Ozzy Oz born?"!

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6th - Quo concert at Twin Towns RSL, Tweed Heads

Quo playing tonight! The most anticipated show of the Australian tour rolled around on May 6th when Quo played without Deep Purple at the Twin Towns RSL, on the border of Queensland and New South Wales. The band arrived early for this show from Perth and who could blame them, with glorious mid-20s clear days and a relaxed lifestyle in and around Coolangatta. They stayed at the Twin Towns Resort and we bumped into Francis (complete with boardshorts and white legs!), Peta, Simon Porter, Rhino and Matt all in the space of a few minutes down the main street on the morning of the gig and Andy was also spotted wandering around town later in the day. Rhino sneaked into a local hairdresser and got his long locks snipped off, resulting in him sporting a more Rick-like look for the rest of this tour.

We arrived at the venue nice and early and began queuing with a few familiar faces. The wait was eased by the exchange of Quo stories and some banter, before the scrum as the doors opened and we headed for the front of the showroom stage. We ended up right on the stage (no barrier here!), just in front of Rhino's mike stand, no complaints with that. First up were support band Twentysevens, a three-piece who did their best to woo the Quo crowd with an all-original set of softer rock material. Whilst they were generally well received, it was clear who the masses were here for!

By the time the lights dimmed for Quo to take the stage, the venue was packed, with the seated area fully occupied and the standing zone up front also very well filled, a total audience of 1500-2000. As Quo took the stage, the crowd went off and stayed with them the whole way through their energetic and fun-filled full set. The band had great fun, feeding off the adoration poured upon them by the encouragable audience and Francis once again had a ball, pulling off some incredible solos and generally playing out of his skin.

The set was a little longer than that seen during the Double Trouble shows - with the addition of Matt's drum solo during "Gerdundula", "Juniors Wailing" to kick off the encore, and a shortish "Bye Bye Johnny" (pre-empted by "Rock 'n' Roll Music" as usual), the only downer being the lack of "Belavista Man" despite it being clearly noted on the set list and omitted at the very last minute. Rick once again showed off the Facelift idea, with the traditional Union Jack design and also, for the first time, a leopard skin design, very 70s!

This was by far the best show of the Australian tour to date, with Quo in fine form, a willing participating audience and a more traditional set length from the band. The few days off in the Queensland sun did them the world of good! The night for the Quo fans was still young though, with many heading just down the road to witness tribute band "Quo Vadis" playing at a local pub...

A great set of sixty photos of this show can be found here.

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6th - Quo Vadis tribute band gig at The Coolangatta Sands Hotel, Coolangatta, Queensland

Lee at the Coolangatta Sands Hotel, looking like a Quo fan... Following on from Quo's gig at the Twin Towns RSL, well-known Queensland tribute outfit Quo Vadis took advantage of the Quo crowds to perform an "after gig" party at the Coolangatta Sands Hotel. The short walk from Twin Towns was an effort for those of us who'd given our all at the Quo gig but we were inspired by the thought of yet more live Quo to come. We were, of course, not to be disappointed and, on arriving at the pub, a large crowd of Quo fans had congregated and were once again ready to rock.

The band didn't leave us waiting too long before hitting the Sands stage with Tony legs astride and knocking out the familiar opening to "Caroline". All systems go then with the usual rabble of air guitarists taking the front spots to hammer out those chords along with the band! The small stage proved no hindrance to their ability to rock and for the next two hours or so they rewarded the audience's gratitude with song after song that we so wish Quo would play live. Take a look at the setlist for "part one" of the show...

Classics all the way so far with the oddities like "Spinning Wheel Blues", "Broken Man", "Over and Done" and "Mad About The Boy" being lapped up by the Quo faithful. Not long into the set, Rhino and Matt arrived - much to the delight of both the band and the Quo followers there. They were both relaxed and enjoyed chatting to a few fans and I had a great time catching up with Rhino. Interestingly, when Quo Vadis kicked into "Break The Rules", he said to me "This is a great song, we should play this"! Time came to leave the guys to enjoy a quiet beer while they listened to Vadis ("Much improved" was Rhino's comment on their performance!) and time to return to the air guitar pit up front. Also making appearances now were various members of Quo's crew, including lighting man Pat Marks who busted a few moves on the dance floor later on!

It was soon time for a short break before the encore, starting with old faithful "Down Down" before launching into a 20-odd minute epic version of "4500 Times". About halfway through the song, Quo tour manager Dave Salt arrived and immediately took up a spot in front of Tony. Looking at the setlist, he noticed that "Paper Plane" had been and gone and asked me whether I thought they'd play it again if he asked as it's his favourite Quo song! I reckoned they would so after belting out "4500 Times", the band had to regroup to play "Paper Plane" again, much to Salty's delight! Even then, it wasn't quite enough and he also fancied "Caroline" so we both opened and closed the night with it and he left a very happy man. He stashed the Vadis setlist in his pocket before he left and I quipped "Is that the setlist for tomorrow night in Brisbane then?" to which he gave a wry smile and simply said "You wish"...

Having not seen Quo Vadis for about five years, their improvement was obvious and they played a blinder to a very willing audience. To hear some of the more obscure old Quo songs played live was a delight and the attendance of Quo band members and crew was both a surprise and an endorsement of the band's efforts. Great job guys (and gal!).

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6th - Quo article in the Gold Coast Bulletin (Queensland)

The following article, entitled "Status Changes" and penned by Alan Burrows, appeared in the Gold Coast Bulletin newspaper.

"They might still be rocking all over the world, but according to Francis Rossi, lead singer of Status Quo - one of England's oldest and most successful rock bands - the world will no longer include Australia.

Once they leave Canberra, the Mother's Day last stop on their Down Under tour, it seems the only way Aussie fans will see the rock veterans live will be abroad.

Rossi and the band's co-founder, Rick Parfitt, were at the Casuarina Resort's Sandbar and Grill just before their one-off Twin Towns gig last Saturday.

"I don't think we'll ever come back," said the pony-tailed Rossi, who will turn 58 on May 29. "It's such a long way and we're not as young as we used to be."

Quo's latest album, The Party Ain't Over Yet, a title Rossi confided he did not like because it conveyed a 'too soft' image, almost proved ironical; last Christmas, Parfitt, who has had a long-time heart problem, was involved in a throat-cancer scare that put paid to a scheduled Australian tour and almost signalled the end of the band.

"We thought Rick was going to die. Thank God he pulled through. I don't know how long we'll carry on - as long as we can, obviously, but everything has to end sometime."

Parfitt, 57, looked tanned and fit. "I've had the all-clear and I'm trying to get my voice back to what it was, but I can't say that health-wise I'm completely out of the woods yet."

Keyboard whiz Andrew Bown, 60, echoed Rossi's take. "Australia is such a long way from London and it's so expensive to bring the band out here."

However, there's a surprise on the boil for Quo devotees.

Rossi said: "We have a gruelling European tour ahead that takes in Germany and Sweden and after that we'd both like to cut down the workload, particularly being on the road.

"But we might be film stars early next year. There's a script in the wind in which we play ourselves. We go into a Chinese restaurant and see a crime committed. We video it and go to the police. Of course, then we're the targets of the gangsters. There's talk of Bob Hoskins (Mrs Henderson Presents) and Vinnie Jones (Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels) being involved, so it should be a great challenge for us. It'll be your typical London gangster movie, a bit like Lock, Stock.

"But before all that I just want to rest and spend some time at home. I've got two sons who are learning to play the drums. Blimey!" the father-of-eight Rossi said, rolling his eyes. "I'm making them take lessons.

Plus, one of my daughters is on the verge of a music career and has written some songs which we've recorded together in my studio at home, so I'd like to devote more time to her."

If Quo do decide to stay on home turf, it'll be a big blow to the army of middle-aged moshers and a healthy ratio of younger, air-punching fans who bounced and clapped their way relentlessly through the Twin Towns show, then demanded more. For them, the party will be over."

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7th - Quo concert at Brisbane Convention Centre

After a very short night's sleep following the Twin Towns "double header" (of Quo and Quo Vadis this time!), we headed to Brisbane to catch Quo at the Convention Centre on Southbank. After a little aimless wandering around this vast complex, we hit upon the auditiorium we were after and milled around in the bar for a while as the crowd gathered and support act Swanee did his thing.

In the build up to Quo taking the stage, the Convention Centre filled very nicely and appeared to be close to capacity at about 6000 seated. The drone heralded Quo's appearance as usual on the stroke of 8pm and, as we all stood up to applaud and welcome them on stage, we got our first unpleasant tastes of what we could expect for the rest of the show from venue security. Everyone was firmly told to sit down or face eviction from the venue! So, Quo kicked off with "Caroline" to 6000 or so "bums on seats" and the fan frustration began to grow. Even Quo's tour manager, Dave Salt, went to the front of the stage and gestured us to 'all stand up' - if only we could! A few persistent fans in the centre floor blocks managed to stay on their feet as the show progressed but for the rest of us - including those in the very front rows sadly - it was to be a show appreciated from a sitting position...

It soon became clear that the band were frustrated too with Francis quipping "And we heard this was a rock and roll town..." and, although they performed to their usual professional standard, it was auto-pilot mode from halfway through their set really as they had little to feed off from the seated audience. No surprises in the set here either with no sign of "Belavista Man" and Rick having his worst night of the tour in terms of vocals with regular glances to his left for Rhino and Andy to help him out.

After the high that was the Twin Towns show, the Brisbane show was a genuine disappointment, largely due to the over-zealous security at this venue. Speaking with a few locals in Brisbane, all agreed that the Convention Centre is a poor venue for concerts so Quo would be well-advised to steer clear of it if (when?!) they return to Australia.

Next stop Sydney...

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9th - Quo concert at Hordern Pavilion, Sydney

Francis and Rick doing what they do best - rocking! After a night off, it was time for Quo to hit New South Wales with the first of two shows in Sydney on May 9th. The venue was the ever-popular Hordern Pavilion, now part of the Entertainment Quarter at Fox Studios, just out of the city. By the time we arrived at about 6.30pm, the gated-off outdoor area in front of the Pavilion was packed with the Quo and Purple faithful. The area quietened down a little when support act Swanee took the Hordern stage at 7pm but a sizeable proportion of the audience milled around outside or in the venue foyer, catching up with old friends or just resting the ears in preparation for Quo.

As we waited, it was remarkable to note the number of father-son combos heading into the show, great to see! Bumping into a venue security manager, we asked what the standing policy would be here to be told (much to our delight after Brisbane) that they'd been told they couldn't ask anyone to sit down if they chose to stand up - that's more like it for a Quo gig!

Taking up a barrier spot in front of Francis just before showtime, we were treated to a top notch show from Quo. Although they performed the same set yet again, the great audience reaction here (from a capacity crowd of 4500) ensured that we got a very energetic and enthusiastic response from the band, with Francis again just lapping it all up and doing his virtuoso best on that green Tele. Rick's vocals were better than Brisbane although he chose not to attempt "Something 'Bout You Baby I Like" and instead let Rhino take on lead vocal duties (aided by his lyric sheet taped to the stage!).

For the first time this tour, Rick sported a rather nice white Rip Curl-branded shirt, which made him look much more athletic than the tight black affair he'd been wearing at other shows. He also pulled out the Union Jack Facelift for a few songs, not a bad look. In terms of audience reaction, "The Oriental" and "Gerdundula" again proved to be big hits and the latter classics section of the set got the whole place on its feet and gave Quo an excelllent send off.

There really is only one Francis Rossi! A good show here - with Quo in good shape, very polished after a few shows on Australian soil, a willing audience and a genuine enthusiasm coming off stage. Roll on night two!

(Though I chose not to stay for their part of the show, Deep Purple were joined by Jimmy Barnes for their crowd-pleasing "Smoke On The Water". Note that all of the excellent photos from the first night at the Hordern come courtesy of D.C. of Sydney, who had a grandstand spot right next to me on the barrier in front of Frame, great work!)

The following review of the first Sydney show appeared in Drum Media magazine (Sydney's largest circulating free music publication) on May 16th.

"It's great to see John Swan back where he belongs, out front of a rocking band using some of the best tonsils of any singer in the country. Let's hope he finally gets that long promised album out this year. Of course the Hordern was packed to see two of Britain's other finest exports and the punters, from Woodstock leftovers to spiky-haired spotty teenagers, weren't disappointed.

The sub-bass woofers throbbed as keyboards player Andy Bown revved up everyone for the entry of Status Quo and it was all on for young and old (okay, fairly young rhythm section and the other geezers!), kicking into that trademark shuffle that had everyone grinning from the first note to the last. Guitarists Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi proved almost as athletic as Mick Jagger, jumping up and down one minute, doing that goofy synchronised guitar stomp the next, sauntering effortlessly from one side of the stage to the other, never missing a beat, churning out all the hits - "Roll Over Lay Down", "Down Down", "Rockin' All Over The World", "Again And Again", "Whatever You Want", need I go on? - as well as a few tunes less travelled.

There really is only one Francis Rossi! What impressed me more than the obvious zest and just sheer love of performing that these guys still exhibit, was just how good a lead guitarist Rossi is. The received wisdom these days is that the Quo are just a boogie band with a tried and tested formula and not a lot of reason to be taken seriously. Sure there is a formula and they're the first to admit it, but the thing is that beneath the formula is a musicianship few give them credit for and it was great to be reminded of that. They are a good bunch of players, not only Parfitt and Rossi but also Bown and bass player John Edwards. This was exemplified by one of the funniest bits of showbiz you'll see this side of Tommy and Phil Emmanuel as Rossi and Edwards played complimentary lead parts on each other guitars while Bown and Parfitt did a very disturbing shuffle across the stage playing rhythm on each other's guitars. End of the day, that's what they're about, putting the fun back into rock 'n' roll without compromising the craft.

I must admit I was surprised at how much quieter Deep Purple seemed compared to Quo when they hit the stage, until I realised that Quo essentially fill the whole mid-range of the sound spectrum while Purple, lacking a rhythm guitar as such, have the space to paint a far broader canvas. And that's just what they did in spades. Again a lot of the hits were played - Space Truckin', Highway Star, Strange Kind of Woman, Black Knight, Lazy, Smoke On The Water (of course!) - but they also brought some things from the newer albums, like the brooding Before Time Began, and gave the "new kids" in the band, guitarist Steve Morse and keyboards player Don Airey there (sic) own solo spots, though each was concise and tightly developed.

And where Status Quo play, I suppose, the musical equivalent of the cheeky likely lads, Deep Purple are the slightly more serious uni kids testing the boundaries, consummate players all but again without pretensions. And like Quo, they're up there, still doing it because that's what they do. It's their life, their passion and they're bloody good at it. The perpetual grin on Morse's face was matched by a few thousand punters as they left the Hordern well pleased indeed."

Francis singin', Rick rockin' Rick rockin' with a Facelift
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9th - Australian tour article in Sydney Morning Herald

The following article - entitled "If you think the old moves died..." and penned by Jack Marx - appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper on May 9th.

"I went for a little stroll down by a lake recently," recalls Ian Gillan, singer for renowned rock band Deep Purple. "It was a very nice day - blue sky, a lovely breeze - so I just sat down taking it all in.

"Then I noticed that there was a beautiful girl across the other side of the water. She was a long way away, but I could still tell she was beautiful and that she was waving at me. So I waved back, and then a little bit later she waved at me again.

"And I thought: 'This is lovely, this is - beautiful day, beautiful girl waving at me - very nice'.

"Then, after a while, I realised there was this little inlet behind me that I hadn't noticed, and there was some bloke on a sailboat who was waving at the girl, who of course had been waving at him all along. And I thought: 'If I hadn't turned around and seen that, this would have been one of the loveliest days of my life."'

It's perhaps no coincidence that this monologue sounds a little like an out-take from This Is Spinal Tap. It is still hotly debated that Gillan may have been the model for David St Hubbins, the blond rock god from the fictional band of the 1984 film. True or not, the parallels are compelling. As with the Tap, Deep Purple lorded over the dark and heavy end of rock for a brief period in the late 1960s and early 1970s, their big hit, 1972's Smoke on the Water, one of the sacred hymns in the church of rock'n'roll. Like St Hubbins and his guitarist, Nigel Tufnel, Gillan and Ritchie Blackmore feuded bitterly, eventually falling out of love and splitting (Gillan left the band in 1973, Blackmore in 1975), and Deep Purple spent much of the next 10 years in the "where are they now" file (Blackmore went on to make records with his girlfriend, Candice Night, in Gillan's place). The true Deep Purple finally reformed in 1985, at Knebworth Park in England, a show best remembered for the tempestuous weather and disgruntled residents demanding the sound be turned down.

But the one essential difference between St Hubbins and the 60-year-old Englishman is that Gillan is no full-of-himself idiot. Thoughtful, erudite and self-deprecating, in the way only old rockers can be, Gillan seems slightly bored when answering questions about his own music, preferring to ruminate on the perils of marriage, the joys and sorrows of excess and how skewed perception can make a lovely day lousy.

Gillan speaks on the failure of the music industry to embrace internet music-file sharing, "the great jukebox in the sky", as he calls it. He sees the notion of intellectual property as "overrated" and the subsequent deification of rock stars likewise. "I don't know about this idea of musicians being necessarily 'gifted' or geniuses or whatever. What's considered 'great' always just comes down to what certain people want at a certain time. I'll bet if Alice Cooper, Jim Morrison, Ozzy Osbourne, Janis Joplin - just about anyone in rock, really, who is considered to be 'great' - were to audition for American Idol, they wouldn't get past the first audition."

Joining Deep Purple (without Blackmore and Jon Lord) on their Australian tour is fellow British rockosaurus Status Quo.

Like Gillan, singer-guitarist Rick Parfitt (who walked out of the cinema in 1984 convinced This Is Spinal Tap was "taking the piss out of Status Quo") has an uncomplicated outlook: "We have a set formula and we don't deviate from it, because it hasn't yet let us down. People like us for that I think. There are no experiments that don't work, no stupid surprises. That's the thing about Status Quo - it does what it says on the tin."

Deep Purple and Status Quo play at the Hordern Pavilion tonight and tomorrow."

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10th - Quo concert at Hordern Pavilion, Sydney

We were running a little late getting to the Hordern for the second show in Sydney - and that turned out to be very good fortune, as we caught a recorded phone interview with Francis on Sydney radio! He was very relaxed and spoke fondly of the Australian tour. This was a great way to begin the evening's proceedings!

Swanee was already doing his thing by the time we rushed into the foyer of the Pavilion to shelter from the drizzle and, while lurking there, FTMO man Mike Hrano appeared and came over for a long chat. It was great to catch up with him and he was in surprisingly good form considering he'd only just flown into Australia after a stint at the London Guitar Show promoting the Facelift. He was interested to hear how the shows had been going so far and he also revealed that the Quo merchandise was selling better than expected (Purple outsell Quo two-to-one at similar double headers in Europe apparently) and he'd actually shipped more gear over to maintain stocks for the rest of the tour.

On entering the Pavilion and taking up front row spots again, it was clear that the venue was in "intimate" mode for this second show, reducing capacity to about 3500 I would estimate. Quo appeared as usual dead on 8pm and the smaller crowd made up for its lack of size with extraordinary noise levels to welcome them on stage. The usual set ensued, with Rick having a better show than the previous night though still not without a few problems. Standout song of the night from where we were was "Creepin' Up On You" with its infectious hook being given some serious treatment by Francis who again showed off his lead guitar wizardry.

The overall Quo performance was a notch better than the first night here and the audience were more than happy to get involved and give Quo a reason to perform well. It was Rick's night for giving stuff away, with an old "Rocker" T-shirt and Union Jack Facelift all going the way of the front row during the show! Rhino chastised me for hitting a few wrong chords during a particularly frantic air guitar moment, thanks for that!

The Quo set appeared to have solidified at this stage in the tour and their performance of it was now very slick following their five month lay off. This was another top quality performance to an appreciative audience, an audience that for the most part remained for the Purple set as well. Purple's excellent light show was worthy of note and the last few songs of their set in particular saw the entire Pavilion on its feet. Next stop Wollongong...

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12th - Quo concert at WIN Entertainment Centre, Wollongong

Lee with Rick Parfitt at Wollongong A polite request to Andrew McManus resulted in the offer of four passes to the "Meet and Greet" session in Wollongong. Very pleased with that offer, I offloaded two passes to friends from Western Australia while my wife and I used the other two. Armed with the tour edition of "The Party Ain't Over Yet" for signing, we headed to the waterfront WIN Entertainment Centre fairly early to collect our passes and soak up the pre-gig atmosphere. At 6pm, there were literally only half a dozen or so people in the foyer areas, but they quickly started to fill as it got nearer to showtime. We assembled at the allotted meeting point nice and early, before being whisked off (as a group of thirteen) downstairs to wait for Quo to come and meet us...

The wait was agonizing and nerve-racking, especially for the few people in the group who had never met the band before. We were kept waiting a fair while until some latecomers turned up, by which time we really were ready for the moment to arrive. Rick was first to show, popping his head around a corner in a teasing boy-like fashion. The rest of the band would follow and the next fifteen minutes or so were spent in their company. Rick looked tanned and fit and inspected the CD I offered him to sign with some curiosity before moving on. Francis was next, who was equally intrigued by the CD and spent a while digesting its track listing before talking to my wife and I for a good few minutes about nothing in particular. He seemed unusually relaxed and affable. Andy was next up and he was his usual unusual self, but happy to sign our CDs and pose for photos and generally relax in our company. Matt stopped briefly and is certainly the most uncomfortable in these surroundings, though always polite. Finally, Rhino got to us and it was a great opportunity to catch up with him and just chat for a bit about Australian life and how he was going. Then it was all over, always too soon but still a great privilege and something they don't really have to do, but choose to do for their fans. A truly memorable experience! (My grateful thanks go to tour manager Dave Salt for arranging the passes for us, cheers!)

Lee with Andrew Bown at Wollongong Lee with John 'Rhino' Edwards at Wollongong By the time we extracted ourselves from the meet and greet session (all wearing grins from ear to ear of course!), Swanee had finished up and it was time to get inside the venue ready for the Quo live experience to begin all over again. We were all on such a high from the meet and greet that the 8pm deadline came around quickly and the band were once again right there before us from our position in the front row.

Rick struggled on vocals early on but seemed to improve as the gig went on and the rest of the band were in fine form, easily keeping the 2500-strong Wollongong crowd on the boil. "Don't Waste My Time" was an early highlight that was never bettered during this energetic performance, with Francis doing some truly amazing things with that battered green Tele! The Facelifts were out in force and Mike Hrano (business partner in the Facelift venture remember) was in the camera pit grabbing a few photos for later promos no doubt.

Maybe Pat Marks was just playing, but there were a few new features to the Quo lightshow which often left Francis looking up with a bemused look on his face! This did nothing to detract from the performance though and this was a genuinely enjoyable Quo set with the band in playful & relaxed mood, just as they were in the meet and greet.

One to go - next and final stop, Newcastle...

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13th - Quo concert at Entertainment Centre, Newcastle

And so my world tour of Australia would come to an end with Quo's penultimate Australian show, in Newcastle on May 13th. A pre-gig dinner with some old friends from NSW got us all in the mood for a great show ... and we were not to be disappointed. We avoided the Swanee set, instead preferring to spend quality time catching up with familiar faces and preparing for Quo. This relaxed milling about almost led us to miss the start of Quo's set, as they fired up fifteen minutes earlier than all other shows on the tour due to a strict 11pm curfew in operation at the Entertainment Centre (plonked squarely in a residential area)!

"Caroline" would open and usher in the masses, leading to a nice full venue of 5-6000, all seemingly out to enjoy a good night of quality music. Though we were treated to the same set yet again, Rick had his best night of the entire tour, never missing a line - great to see him back in full form! He also sported a new look, this time in a black version of his now familiar Rip Curl shirt. Francis proved yet again how under-rated he is as a guitarist, doing his twiddly best to amaze and delight the front rows. We were more than happy to oblige Francis!

This was a top show with which to end my 2006 tour of Australia. Quo were firing on all cylinders by this stage and just getting better and better, something of a relief after Rick's health problems. It was great to catch up with so many friends along the way, and make a few new ones. Here's hoping Quo come back to Oz sometime really soon... (The great photos from Newcastle are courtesy of Steve Owen - you can find more of his photos here.)

Francis & Rick get up close and personal Rick waiting to rock...
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14th - Quo concert at Royal Theatre, Canberra

The following enthusiastic review of the final show of the Australian tour comes from Peter McCray.

"In short, expectations were high, and we weren't disappointed!! Just superb!

Quo's Aussie tour wrapped up in Canberra last night - Mothers Day, 14 May - in fine style. I was lucky enough to have a quick meet and greet with the guys about twenty minutes before they went on stage - and a very exclusive meet and greet it was - and they were relaxed, friendly and totally charming.

Once on stage, the boys ran through the standard set they've played around the country these past couple of weeks, and as usual, gave it their all. By the end, they had the crowd eating out of their hand - and they left the stage to a standing ovation, from Quo and Purple fans alike.

The Quo and Purple contingents seemed to be about equally represented in the crowd, and it is probably fair to say that it took a little while for the Purple fans to get into the swing of things. But by the latter part of the set, with Quo storming through marquee numbers like "Roll Over Lay Down", "Down Down", "Whatever You Want" and "Rockin' All Over The World", they had the whole audience was very much with them. I've talked to several 'neutrals' as well, who came along without any particular allegiance to Quo or Purple, and they were blown away by the energy and entertainment value provided by Quo.

Funnily enough, a couple of neutrals mentioned all that schtick the guys turn on through "Gerdundula" as particular highlights. It's certainly great fun. Highlights for me included Rick's stormin' intro to "Caroline" - I will never tire of the drone giving way to Rick giving it 150 per cent - and Francis' increasingly amazing solos littered through "Don't Waste My Time", "Rain", "Roll Over Lay Down" and, these days, even "Creepin Up on You".

I noticed someone on the Message Board complaining recently about Francis' 'overbended' solos. Well all I can say is, keep 'overbending' Frame. His soaring guitar gymnastics in "Don't Waste My Time" in particular now take the solos into some amazing places that use the original recording as just the most basic of templates. The main solo in "Don't Waste My Time" he played in Canberra was the best I've heard yet - just love it!!

Francis was in good form with the banter as well. Towards the end of "Slow Train" in the "Mystery Song" medley a buxom middle aged blonde suddenly materialised on stage and started dancing in between Rick and Francis, and then planted a kiss on a rather surprised Rossi, before being bear-hugged off stage by security.

Francis recovered his composure in time to make a well received crack about having his 'lucky pants' on. However, security was perhaps not all it might have been as, shortly after, during "Gerdundula" someone chucked a large, white spinning object onto the stage (later discovered to be a shoe!- Lee) which Rick saw out of the corner of his eye as well. He had a quick look behind him just to check it wasn't something nasty. Fair enough too.

It didn't spoil the fun though. The guys really put in, and the crowd responded to another magnificent, high-energy performance. I know these guys will have to give the Aussie tours away eventually, but I hope they might yet squeeze in another one or two visits Down Under over the next few years. Come back guys - missing you already!"

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14th - Quo radio special on Classic 21 radio (Belgium)

Belgian radio station Classic 21 broadcast a three-hour Quo special on May 14th. The show included interviews with Francis and Rick (recorded in Australia) and also Bob Young.

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17th - Quo concert at Tennis Stadium, Dubai, UAE

En-route to the UK following their successful Australian tour, Quo stopped off in the Middle East for a couple of shows, the first of which took place on May 17th in Dubai. Rick had a good night on vocals and once again showed off his Facelift designs (both union jack and leopard skin). The setlist was as follows.

Photos from Dubai can be found here.

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19th - Quo article in "Movie & Entertainment News"

The following brief Quo article, titled "Status Quo clear the bar", appeared on Movie & Entertainment News on May 19th.

"Veteran rockers STATUS QUO succeeded in emptying an entire bar of its patrons in Australia - by bribing the drinkers with champagne.

The CAROLINE hitmakers, who were staying at the luxurious Inter-continental hotel, were desperate to throw a private party for their roadies and pleaded for exclusive access to the hotel bar.

And to ensure none of their fellow guests took offence, the band treated each one to a bottle of bubbly, resulting in a $9,000 (£5,000) bar bill.

One appeased guest said, "The champagne was sweet like honey. I didn't mind." The rockers concluded their Australian tour in Canberra on Sunday (14MAY06)."

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21st - Quo concert at Birmingham NEC Arena

Quo marked their return to the UK live stage with a sell-out show at Birmingham's NEC Arena on May 21st (supported by Casbah Club). The UK fan base had waited almost six months to see the band in action and the few shows in Swizterland, Australia and the Middle East served as good warm-ups for this highly-anticipated show. This would be Quo's 40th appearance on the NEC stage - an occasion deemed worthy of the presentation of a cake - and they did not disappoint the 12,000-strong crowd.

To add to the excitement, the show was filmed for a special DVD to be released in November 2006 and a full Quo set was assured - the running order was as follows.

Photos from this gig can be found here and also here.

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22nd - Quo article in Birmingham Evening Mail

The following article - titled "Status Quo call for HP to rock on!" and written by Andy Coleman - appeared in the Birmingham Evening Mail on May 22nd.

"THEY have been Rockin' All Over The World but when it comes to sauce Status Quo know British is best.

That is why the superstar boogie band have pledged their support for the Birmingham Mail's campaign to keep HP Sauce production in Brum.

They were outraged to hear of plans to move production to Holland, with 125 Brummie jobs going Down Down the pan.

"Save our sauce, we're all fans of HP," said Quo frontman Francis Rossi before going onstage at Birmingham NEC last night.

The show was an historic one for the veteran band. It was their first UK appearance since the cancellation of their pre-Christmas British tour due to a cancer scare for singer/ guitarist Rick Parfitt. After laser surgery to remove a growth on his larynx, he has had to regain his voice over the past five months. Warm up shows in Austria, Australia and Dubai have helped strengthen his vocals although last night his voice cracked during one his first numbers, Rain.

But later songs on which he took lead vocals in the two hour set, like Creepin' Up On You and Bellavista Man, saw him back to his best. He told the Mail before the show that it was a nerve wracking gig because it was being filmed for a DVD to celebrate Quo's 40th anniversary.

It was also their 40th NEC show and to mark the occasion they were presented with a plaque and a large guitar-shaped cake.

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26th - Quo concert at Kirchplatz, Bendorf, Germany

Despite a little rain (the "Cloud" again!), Quo played a well-received gig in Bendorf on May 26th - the only complaint was the shortened setlist, which was as follows.

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27th - Quo promotional appearance at NFL World Bowl XIV, Düsseldorf

Quo made a brief promotional appearance before the NFL World Bowl game in Düsseldorf, Germany, in the afternoon of May 27th (before heading off to a show in Belgium in the evening!). ARD television broadcast the event, showing a short interview with Rick and Francis and also them singing part of "Yellow Submarine"! The band did a playback version of "The Party Ain't Over Yet" as their promo.

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27th - Quo concert at Schwung Festival, Belgium

Quo's annual invitation to play the Schwung Festival in Belgium saw them sharing the stage on May 27th with Zoe, Revenge 88, Southern Voodoo, Thunder, Ted Nugent, Dio, and Alice Cooper (headlining). Some photos of the Quo show can be found at the official Schwung Festival web site (in Gallery 3).

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