The next three Status Quo tours all called at Newcastle City Hall. These were: the Riffs Tour on 6th November 2003, the XS All Areas Tour 17th February 2005 (rescheduled from 19th December 2004 due to Francis being ill) and The Party Ain’t Over Yet Tour on 3rd November 2005. David came with me to the 2003 gig, still somewhat under sufferance. We had tickets in the front row, right in the middle. We ended up resting on the stage, looking straight up at Francis and Rick. The experience was incredible, watching the energy of the two guys; Rick in particular was on fire and a relentless rhythm machine. But the sound was awful; because of our position directly in front of the massive backline all we could hear was Rick’s guitar at screeching volume, and no vocals at all. I am not joking when I say that I sometimes didn’t know which song they were playing. My old gig mate John was over in the UK from the States with business and joined me at one of the 2005 gigs. Just like old times 🙂 !
The setlist changed little over this period and would usually be something like this: Caroline, Somethin’bout you Baby I Like, don’t waste my Time, 4500 Times, Rain, All Stand Up, Solid Gold, The Oriental, Creepin’ up on you, Mystery Medley, Belavista Man, The Party Ain’t Over Yet, Gerdundula, Roll over lay Down, Down Down, Whatever You Want, Rockin’all over the World, Proposin’ Medley, Junior’s Wailing, Rock’n Roll Music/Bye Bye Johnny.In fact, the samey nature of the setlist became (and remains) an issue for some fans, who longed to see some radical changes in the songs played. Me, I was still in my “back into Quo” mode, and they could do no wrong by me at the time. I just had to hear the first couple of bars of “Caroline” and I was away again, back in the Quo zone. On a good night there just isn’t a better band in the land.
Then the unthinkable happened.
On December 8th 2005 we all learnt that the remainder of the UK tour had been cancelled due to the discovery of a growth in Rick’s throat. The press release read: “Guitarist and Founder member Rick Parfitt has been suffering from a throat problem…….This morning he saw a Consultant surgeon at the Nuffield Hospital in Plymouth who has expressed concern with a growth in Rick’s larynx and has recommended that it requires urgent investigation. Consequently all 9 remaining shows on the current sell out UK tour have been cancelled.” The newspapers were full of it: “Rick has throat cancer”, the stories went. We all feared the worst, and thought this might be the end of the Mighty Quo. Of course the news was, thankfully, ultimately good, and Rick didn’t have cancer. The next time I saw Quo was at Rick’s UK comeback gig at Birmingham NEC in May 2006. I’ll write about that emotional gig tomorrow.
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