Odds on to rock

Now in its 22nd year Newmarket Nights are an established stalwart of the Suffolk calendar. Today, as the season gets under way, JAMES MARSTON chats to rock 'n' roll legend Francis Rossi.

James Marston

Now in its 22nd year Newmarket Nights are an established stalwart of the Suffolk calendar. Today, as the season gets under way, JAMES MARSTON chats to rock 'n' roll legend Francis Rossi.

NEWMARKET racecourse on July 24 isn't going to be the easiest of gigs for Status Quo.

The stage isn't that big and getting the right sound isn't always straightforward.

Francis, an engaging man to chat to, is almost brutally honest about it.

He said: “This will be our third or fourth time, it's a difficult gig. It's not a standard gig, we grew up with doing theatres and touring and it's not like doing a show.

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“But there's no point being awkward about it, we're booked and we ain't going to walk away from it.”

In the business for decades, Status Quo are enduringly popular.

Francis added: “Having said all that it seems to work, it's something in England we've noticed in the last five or ten years that we have some wonderful outdoor sites.

“I might moan and groan but we love what we do.”

It goes without saying The Quo will perform all their hits and perform to their usual high and exacting standards.

Francis said: “Don't ask me what the audience can expect, what you think they can expect? We're an older band and we plunder our back catalogue, what else we gonna do? That's what we do.

“We've been doing this for so long.”

Well known for their love of touring, the band has about 100 shows this year.

Francis said: “We usually do 125 to 150 shows but we didn't start until May this year, I daresay this credit crunch or recession or whatever it is that has been talked up doesn't help - it frightens people.”

They may be playing at one of the nation's most famous racecourses but Francis isn't a gambling man.

He said: “I like horses, I think they are fascinating creatures but I ain't a gambler, I've seen what it can do to people when I was younger.

“I'm a lot more prudent than I used to be. I like the people, the horsey types that go that are into the racing fascinate me.”

With gigs taking him all over the world, Francis isn't keen on flying.

He said: “When I was 12 or 13 we wanted to make it and then we did and we started to make some money.

“We wanted to travel first class and stay in the best hotels so we did, then we wanted to fly everywhere so we did, then we wanted to fly in a private jet so we did.

“Now I want to get on a bus where I've got my own bedroom.

“Tonight I'll go to sleep about 11pm and wake up in Dortmund at the gig. Flying is horrendous now, they want you to take of your belt and your shoes and it's frustrating.”

Expounding a stream of consciousness, the conversation, led by Francis, turns to acting.

He said: “When we were on Coronation Street I asked but they said no thank you. But it's just as well. They start at 7am and finish at 7pm. They work very hard, sod that. They don't get paid enough for that.

“Anyway, thanks for letting me ramble on, good luck.”

Status Quo will be playing at Newmarket July course on July 24. Tickets are �15, �22 and �30 to book call the box office on 0844 5793010.

Are you a Status Quo fan? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Tonight - Lemar, Alesha Dixon and Estelle

July 17 - Pussycat Dolls

July 24 - Status Quo

July 31 - Simply Red

August 7 - Scouting For Girls

August 14 - Boyzone

Status Quo have appeared on BBC Top of the Pops more than 100 times and have recorded top twenty hits across five decades. Quo have recorded 64 British hit singles.