Francis Rossi –
Winding Wheel Theatre, Chesterfield, Saturday, 22nd April, 2023
Yes it's the man from Status Quo in solo mode. I remember him having a solo band a few years ago with his daughter's band supporting, well 12 in fact – God that went super-fast! Although there was the 'I Talk Too Much' Tour featuring his good self and the legendary Rock Interviewer, Mick Wall not too long since.
This venture is part of a flabbergasting 100+ date Tour around the UK and Ireland alongside his Guitar Tech who he introduced to us as Mr. Brook entitled 'Tunes & Chat' whereby the two of them break out 2 beautiful matching acoustics.
Basically it was what it said on the tin whereby Francis talked to us for a while and interspersed this with some of the Status Quo songs that were both well-known and more obscure to the Greatest Hits crowd in unplugged fashion. I must say it was the best I had heard him voice-wise in years and his guitar-work was nothing but virtuoso too!
Although there was somewhat a strict set list that they were working from, quite a bit of the incidental banter was off the cuff depending on the audience and what was said by them or Francis – proving to be very on the bone at various points which the fans in here loved. He laughed about being thought of as the 'Grand Old Man Of Rock' which some thought he would find insulting.
He told us about his humble beginning, cranking up 'Pictures Of Matchstick Men' before ploughing into the early 70'a bluesier numbers like Spinning Wheel Blues' and 'In My Chair'. A backdrop of each album where the song came from appeared on the LCD screen behind them which included the likes of Hello, Piledriver, 'In Search Of The Fourth Chord', 'Back To Back' and many more as he chatted about the time they were recorded and where various ideas came from for the 'tunes'.
One thing that really struck me about the folk in here was how old many of them were – I was one of the youngest there and I am a tender age of 49! Hahahaha! Some folk in front of us did not seem to have much of a clue what songs he was playing! Were they actually Quo fans or had they come on the wrong night expecting to see Chris De Burgh or Daniel O'Donnell? Myself and Steve Cooper were pretty baffled on that score to say the very least.
That aside, the conversation from the stage was nothing short of brilliant and in good old theatre style came in 2 halves with an interval when the bar was open and shut when the show itself was in duration. The very dapper looking Mr. Rossi loves the word 'Gobshite' that he laughed about during the night much to everyone's amusement. God knows what the black bucket was about though in part 1 that had a 3 pens and a battery in it for some bizarre reason - hilarious and random.
There was a cool story about his old gardener who was an ex-Copper who actually went to a Quo show without telling Francis and much, much more that I don't wanna reveal for fear of ruining the show for future fans yet to see this marvellous more intimate spectacle.
Another funny moment was him quipping that unlike his day job where he can move away from the microphone, he couldn't here since he was using a clip-on microphone and everything would be audible unless he turned it off so anything could basically come out of his mouth regardless - all good to me - uncensored is the way to go anyway - the legendary old Rocker kept it real!
The proceedings ended with a hand-picked set of questions that the audience had handed on entry to the show in the reception area. Those chosen included 'How many waistcoats does he own?' and 'Would he still be selling ice creams had he not made it in the music business with Quo?'. The answers to this were “About 100 waistcoats” and, 'Yes he would' to the other' – lol. Or what about the one where he was asked, 'What's the funniest/strangest thing that's happened to you onstage?' which Francis replied to a blonde wig ending up on the neck of his guitar - owned by a now wigless woman in the audience! Now that's priceless!
Everybody left smiling and I cannot recommend this show enough to you if you have not yet seen it. As good as any Quo show I have seen with even a bit of harmonica being thrown in too by Andy Brook.
Review By Glenn Milligan
1st & 3rd Photograph by James Eckersley
2nd Photograph by Tina Kirhonen