ALMOST a year since the death of Rick Parfitt, Mick Burgess catches up with Francis Rossi ahead of a fully-electric rock Status Quo show at Newcastle City Hall

Your latest UK tour starts at the end of the month. Are you looking forward to getting started?

I am actually and it`s not like me to but something has happened since we`ve taken on Richie Malone. Maybe he`s made us older people think about what we are doing and pull our socks up or something. There`s this vibe now going on and maybe it`s because we feel we have something to prove.

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These shows will be you plugged in and electric. You'd originally planned these as acoustic shows. Why the change of heart?

We had said we weren't doing any more electric shows and now we are. These shows were all supposed to be acoustic but we got so many emails and letters that we decided to give them what they wanted. Now we need to get through to everybody to say that we ARE doing a full electric show.

On December 6 you're up in Newcastle at the City Hall. What sort of reaction do you expect from the Geordie Quo fans?

Traditionally when you play Newcastle City Hall, they go nuts, there's such an incredible vibe. I can't wait to play there again as last year we were at the Arena which doesn't have the same atmosphere.

What sort of setlist do you have planned for this tour?

We have been doing an acoustic version of Don`t Drive My Car that I thought was brilliant and we'll be doing that version but only electrically on this tour. We will of course be doing the hits that everyone wants to hear and some songs from right across our career, old and new. I think it's a pretty good mix.

It's hard to come back after a key member of a band passes away. How did you cope initially with the loss of Rick Parfitt?

It was hard. Rick had retired earlier before he passed away so we already knew what it would be like without him there but it was a big shock when he died but we decided to carry on. It's that British thing with backs against the wall. We had to give it a go. We all had to pull together knowing Rick wasn't there.

How did you first come across Richie Malone, who has stepped into Rick's shoes?

Both Rick and I knew Richie from years ago. He actually came to one of our sound checks when he was 15 or 16 and played with us. Rick jokingly said that if he ever died that we had to get Richie in. That was what Rick was like and I don't really think that people understood the humour that we had between us.

Does losing Rick make you all the more grateful for doing The Frantic Four shows with the original line-up a couple of years ago after over 30 years apart?

Yes, it did, especially for Alan Lancaster and John Coghlan and it was addressed and done but it got to the point where we couldn't do it anymore. John was wise enough to realise that he didn't have our stamina and I think the two tours we did together were enough for him. I'm certainly glad we did it and it was great to play together one last time.

Next year is Quo's 50th anniversary. What do you see as the highlight of your career?

Live Aid must be up there as it was totally unique. We weren't very good or very well-rehearsed and we weren't getting on together very well but it was such an incredible day. We were lucky that no one wanted to go on first, so we thought we may as well do it. We got every newsreel around the world. All credit to Bob for managing to get everybody to agree to doing it. It was a fantastic occasion and it worked.

You've had Number 1 singles and albums, sell out tours, starred in your own film but can anything top appearing on Coronation Street with Les and Cilla Battersby

I remember Coronation Street when it first started and I played the theme tune on the trumpet at school. It`s an iconic show and has been around for so long that when we were first asked I thought it`d be outside of our comfort zone but our manager was a very, very big fan of the show and he pushed us. It was a very enjoyable experience. It was great working with Les Battersby. I actually learned how to fight on television through that. When we went into the Rovers and when Betty mentioned “Hot Pot”, we just kept laughing and they had to keep doing it again until we got our parts right.

  • Status Quo play Newcastle City Hall on December 6. Tickets from venue.