It could be blinding ... or not!

AHEAD of Status Quo’s concert at the Alnwick Castle pastures in August, Gazette reporter BEN O’CONNELL spoke to the band’s co-founder, guitarist and lead singer Francis Rossi.

THE first thing to ask was to check that Mr Rossi and his band were looking forward to playing in Alnwick next month.

Well, ‘no’ was the answer, but that’s because he doesn’t look forward to any of his gigs.

“They are all the same to me and I don’t have any expectations,” he said. “If anything, I go into it thinking it’s not going to be good.”

“I go into every gig with no expectations and then it’s easier for me and for the audience.

“If you tell people you are really looking forward to playing in their town, then they think you’re lying anyway.”

He said they were just back from playing two shows in Germany, where one night had been ‘blinding’, but the night before that was, well, not that good.

But he did at least give those lucky enough to have tickets for the August 20 Alnwick show a taste of what they could expect – three songs from new album Quid Pro Quo, a couple of songs from the albums preceding that and the rest, the classics.

“Or what they call the classics, they’re just some hits we had,” he said.

“Usually, we have quite a good set, but I think musicians, bands and artists are all looking for the people to relate to.

“It’s like food or sex. If you have a really good meal at a restaurant, then you go again.

“And good sex, you definitely try to do it again so if we do a good gig then we try to do the same again.

“We are always trying to get onstage and recreate that moment.

“Some nights, it’s blinding, other nights, it’s not so blinding.

“We are lucky our fans, particularly the hardcore, are like fans of a football team. Sometimes you watch your team and they lose and play badly but then you go back and it will be good the next time. Our fans factor in and rate it among themselves.”

So according to the band’s singer, it could be great, but one thing that isn’t in doubt is that the Quo have the relevant experience, having rocked all over the world since the 1960s in one form or another. Did he still think they would be doing this in 2011?

“I didn’t think I would still be doing it,” he said.

“Remember we had success at 18 – an 18-year-old thinks 25 is old. The idea of making 30, well the Stones were 30 and they were old. 40 seemed impossible, as did 60 and now I’m 62. Sometimes I think it’s ridiculous.

“The generation before us said our music wasn’t valid and wouldn’t last. We didn’t want them to be right so us older bands are still trying to prove them wrong. I think we are all hanging on.

“Sixty-five seems a long way off now but you never think it’s going to last, none of us did. Some nights it’s normal, other nights it’s kind of ridiculous.”

But one thing that hasn’t changed is that Francis still loves getting on stage and playing his music, and not only is it as good as when he was an 18-year-old, it’s better.

“A few years ago we were making a covers album but it felt stupid. I want to write my three-minute little songs.

“When a gig is so good, you just want to do it again. There’s that one moment when it pushes the barrier and then you try to reach that again.

“Musos are always wrecking stuff because it’s that frustration of not getting that every time.

“The best time for me is walking up the back stairs onto the bus. Walking up the stairs on the bus and seeing Rick’s (Parfitt, Quo guitarist) feet at the end of his bunk, and the only way I can get that vibe is by playing the show.

“I was in a really nice hotel in St Petersburg recently and just thought you spoilt so-and-so. No matter how nice the hotel is, I still wake up feeling awful.

“Him (Rick) and I stay on the bus the whole time even if the band are off on planes or in hotels.

“We have almost become institutionalised on sometihing that was anti-establishment.

“I play guitar two or three hours a day, I don’t know what I will do when I retire.”

And through their entire career, the band have retained a level of popularity that other bands can only dream of, something which Francis cannot fully explain.

“I don’t know, you do pick up fans along the way, and you lose some along the way,” he said.

“We do get young people becoming fans because there’s no peer pressure. You can get on the internet and see a clip on YouTube and make your own judgement.

“Some people are brought with their parents, they are brought when they are born and they have been watching you since they can remember.

“In the 70s and 80s there was peer pressure on what people should or shouldn’t like.

“I like the music I like. I don’t care if it’s ‘good’ if I like it.”

And what does he like or listen to these days?

“Muse are fantastic. If they were around in the 70s I think we would have had a lot of trouble. He has so many influences in there, you can tell he has listened to opera, show music, all sorts. He doesn’t care what people think.”

Francis also declared a liking for Adele (“It’s nothing new, but that doesn’t matter.”) and The Feeling, adding that they released ‘a lovely album’ a few years ago, despite taking Status Quo’s crown for the most uncool band on the planet!

l The concert, with support from 10cc, takes place at Alnwick Castle on Saturday, August 20.

Tickets are £35 each with 10 per cent discounts for group bookings of more than 10. Children aged five to 15 cost only £15.

Tickets are available on or 01603 660444.

l In next week’s Gazette, we are offering the chance for five lucky readers to win a pair of tickets each to the show, to ensure you are there for the show which, in Francis Rossi’s words, could be blinding and could be not so blinding.