Francis Rossi I Talk Too Much Newcastle Tyne Theatre 2 August 2021

FRANCIS TIXWell it finally came. My first concert for almost 2 years. I was excited and, I must admit, a little nervous. My first outing was to see my old friend/hero Francis Rossi of Status Quo at Newcastle Tyne Theatre on a spoken word tour, promoting his autobiography I Talk Too Much. So off I went, with my friendly taxi driver and my carer Lisa, armed with my copy of the book (which I hoped to have signed by Francis) to the lovely old Tyne Theatre in Westgate Road, Newcastle.

FRANCIS 3“In this explosive new memoir, the famously indiscreet Rossi reveals the true-life stories behind his unbelievable career. Painfully honest at times, the book covers the glory years, the dark days, the ups and downs of his relationship with the late Rick Parfitt and the real stories behind the creation of some of the greatest rock music of all time” (I Talk Too Much — FRANCIS ROSSI)

We arrived just in time to take our seats for the prompt 7:30 PM start. The stage was set with two nice comfy chairs one soon-to-be taken by Francis and the other by his interviewer/compere Mick Wall, renowned Rock journalist and author. Mick opened the proceedings by warming us up with a vintage video, which we have all seen and love, of Status Quo, a young Francis and Rick, playing “Pictures of Mastic Men” on Top of the Pops. It took us all back to the start and was a great introduction to the star of the show, Francis Rossi who took to the stage with a bow, his usual cheeky grin and sat down opposite Mike. And so the evening, and the fun, began. We had a great view, three rows from the front to the left of the stage.

FRANCIS 1Those of you who have ever seen Status Quo live will know that Francis is, by nature, a cheeky, chatty chap. He started by going back to his early life, reminiscing about his Italian, ice cream shop and van, roots in London and how his father would sing to him in Italian and how he soon learned to play the trumpet and then the guitar. The story moved on to forming a band with old friend and ex-Status Quo bass player, Alan Lancaster, how they went on to play at Butlins and met a flashy young face called Rick Parfitt. Soon they were together as Status Quo and Francis told us of how he wrote “Pictures of Matchstick Men”, basing it roughly on Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Joe”. Francis picked up a guitar, playing and singing to demonstrate how he wrote their first hit record.

There was a box at the front the stage where you could post written questions in the first half of the show. Mick Wall then collected the box during the interval and selected some questions to ask Francis. I didn’t ask a question but one thing I should have asked is “When and why did Mike become Francis?” As I recall, in the late 60s and early 70s, he was always known as Mike Rossi and then somewhere along the line during the 70s he became Francis Rossi. I always wondered why, and still do. Maybe one day I may get the chance to ask him. The first half of the evening finished with the story moving on to the emergence of Status Quo the triumphant rock and boogie band that we all know and love, illustrated by some great video footage of the band at the height of their fame playing “Down Down”, “Rocking All Over the World” and “Whatever You Want”.

FRANCIS 4During the interval I treated myself to a glass of red wine, sat back in my chair and waited for Francis to return. Soon the show resumed and we moved on to tales of how they opened Live Aid, which I was lucky enough to attend in Wembley Stadium, Francis explaining that nobody really wanted the opening slot but they realised how important the concert, the event would be and how being the opening act would be a great place to be on the bill. Then there were tales of the breakup of the band, the re-emergence with Francis and Rick leading a new version of Status Quo and being back in the charts with “In the Army Now”. All of this was delivered with Francis’ usual cheeky Cockney charm. Then he moved through the years talking quite emotionally about the sad passing of Rick and the latest Francis led version of Status Quo. I must admit I always had my doubts about Francis continuing after Rick’s passing but I guess it is in his blood and to him it obviously seemed the natural thing to do.

FRANCIS 2

And so a new era of Status Quo has begun. We then moved on to Mick Wall asking a few selected questions to Francis. One question concerned two blondes in the back of a Rolls-Royce as Francis and Rick drove into Manchester Belle Vue in the 70s. Francis quickly swerved the question of who the blondes were, changing the topic to the fact that the Bay City Rollers had played the venue the evening before, resulting in all the seats being smashed up! Cleverly done Francis. Somewhere along the way we also got an amusing tale of how he tried, and failed, to evacuate Cardiff Capitol Theatre during a bomb scare, on the orders of the police. The evening closed with Francis singing “Caroline”. Lisa and I quickly nipped out the back hoping to be first in the queue to get my book signed, only to learn that the book signing was not going to happen, I guess, and quite understandably, due to Covid.

And then it was off back in our taxi, on our journey home, picking up Chris on the way to help put me back to bed. I was soon back in my bed at around 10:45 PM. Quite a civilised evening for my first venture out. Well I did it. More to come in the future. Thanks to Francis for a lovely, friendly evening and a gentle start to my return to concert going.

6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mick St Michael on August 3, 2021 at 7:06 pm

    Mick Wall was never a photographer. I think you’re thinking of Mick Rock…

    Reply

  2. Posted by John Moses on August 4, 2021 at 5:47 am

    Hi Peter,

    Well done – back on the road again.

    Best wishes,

    John

    Reply

  3. Posted by Peter Maggiore on August 14, 2021 at 11:44 am

    Hi Pete. Sounded like a canny night out for you. The family of Francis Rossi emigrated to the UK at roughly the same time as mine did around a hundred years ago from the same little village called Valvori. It is high in the mountains between Rome and Naples. Most of the ice-cream families in our locality originted from the same place, ourselves (Louis of Ryhope, also Crowtree Rd and latterly Park Lane), Notarrianis and Fellas to name a few. Stay safe mate

    Reply

    • Posted by vintagerock on August 14, 2021 at 11:52 am

      Great story Pete. I think you also know my old friend and colleague Alfredo Moscardini, who hails from a ice cream family in Consett I believe. Great to hear from you and pass my regards to Ian Best wishes Peter

      Reply

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