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Status Quo

December 2008

HE'S a rambler.
After we establish where he is – Le Mans – for which he has to ask someone else, Francis Rossi goes off on one about the modern predilection for high expectations.
"Most things don't live up to our expectations. They're much better in your head."
Like Christmas.
"The best thing about Christmas is looking forward to it. I find that with so many things in life. The weekend, the holiday, the meal... it's not so much about 'my God, I'm enjoying myself right now!'
"I look forward to going home so much then I get home and 'Oh I'm here'. I quite often look forward to going back on the road."
Maybe you've a restless personality?
"And how do you explain the rest of the planet then?"
"My first wife would get thoroughly depressed if she didn't have something to look forward to. She still has that problem now. She looks forward to it then after the event she's totally depressed.
"It seems our whole planet is doing this."
But people have always been the same. Back to the 50s and factory workers looking forward to the weekend.
"I think it's got more intense."
So what is the answer?
"I try and enjoy the moment."
His favourite moment being after a show when he's just sat on the tour bus.
"Just heaven," he says.
"When one has done a show, you've fulfilled your commitment.... ahh."
Anyway, what am I waffling on about? We're supposed to be talking about Status Quo."
They're back one more time for a show at the Arena, on a tour to mark their 40th anniversary. So obviously there'll be the hits. From Pictures of Matchstick Men in 1968, through the definitive Quo rockers in the 70s – Paper Plane, Caroline, Down Down, Rockin' All Over the World, Whatever You Want, Down Down– to their 75th single and first festive release, It's Christmas Time.
But they've always done the hits on tour, so what's different?
"There are a couple from the 60s we haven't done since the 60s.
"It's Status Quo – what can I say? You either like it or you don't.
"It's definitely better for the punters this time round. We have these screens and there are lots of nostalgic bits and pieces."
He wasn't sure about beefing up their presentation.
"People don't go home humming the lights do they? But it seems to have worked. People like it so..."
He adds: "I do look forward to coming to Nottingham..."
You said you don't look forward to anything these days.
"I do. Because there's a sushi bar near the Lace Market, I go for breakfast there. And then usually in the evening there's a tapas bar around there that I go to.
"And there's a gym up the road in an old station. So usually Nottingham's a great day for me.
"I don't know about the gig, though," he says with a laughs.
"The gig is freezing. Always. That bloody arena is freezing. It's true."
He's off again. This time it's the arrogance of the British race.
"We seem to have got that thing where we needn't bother any more because obviously we're British and we're great. I remember I used to come here (France) in the 70s and it was ****. The gigs were diabolical, the roads were diabolical. Now you've got roads and you feel like you're floating. And every venue's a dream. And you think hang on, we're being shown what to do by the French."
"Think about that, Britain!"
While the Arena gets a kicking he's quite a fan of the Royal Concert Hall.
"A couple of years ago we were playing there and we had to come off early because we could smell this burning. We had this hydraulic lift that takes the floor up and down and the front row were sinking. This hydraulic thing had given out and they were panicking in case they lost the punters down the hole.
"But I do like that place."
The tour goes into next year then there's a short break before they head off on their annual jaunt playing in the open air during the summer.
When he gets time off, Rossi admits he'll indulge in a week of slumming it at home then he'll be back to the studio.
But he's not a workaholic, more likely filling in the hours that years ago were spent in a haze of drugs and alcohol.
He's long since been clean of both.
"I can't do drugs or alcohol," says Rossi, who will turn 60 next year.
"When you read in the papers 'my son was led into drugs by hash...' Hash never led me anywhere. Except indoors. Whereas coke or alcohol got me going out. The alcohol balanced the coke. I left one of my girlfriends, the mother of one of my daughters... I would still have been with her if I hadn't been drinking because drinking made me jack the lad.
"I blame alcohol for more things than most people do."
For the tour and the CD Pictures: 40 Years of Hits, the usual promotional tools were put in place – the CD comes as either a four-disc EarBook, a three-disc edition with DVD and rarities, a two-disc CD, a USB, download and vinyl. But nothing gave the band as much publicity as the story of the Francis Rossi lookalike who duped Dover councillors.
The man, calling himself Graham, enjoyed months of being treated to VIP meals and rides in the Mayor's limousine with a promise that he'd perform at the Dover Festival with his buddies Sir Paul McCartney, Charlotte Church, and Queen's Brian May.
He even serenaded people with the Quo hit Rockin' All Over The World – but refused to play the guitar, blaming arthritis.
"How would you feel if somebody that looked like that... he's ten years older than me, has a tash and looks nothing like me!" laughs Rossi.
"Charming, isn't it? Relatives are phoning me up saying 'are you going to introduce me to this twin of yours?'
"It's a blinding yarn and we couldn't have got that kind of PR if we'd have tried."

Status Quo, supported by Manfred Mann's Earth Band, Arena, Friday December 19

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