Pete Townshend at MusiCares - NY Best Buy Theatre

 

Setlist:

Overture - The Who band
Summertime Blues - Joan Jett
I Can't Explain - Joan Jett
Substitute - Willie Nile
The Kids Are Alright - Willie Nile
The Seeker - Roger Daltrey
Young Man Blues - Roger Daltrey
Bill Curbishley speech
The Real Me - Billy Idol
Who Are You - Billy Idol
Bruce Springsteen speech
Pete Townshend speech
My Generation - Pete Townshend, Bruce Springsteen, Roger Daltrey
I'm One - Pete Townshend
Eminence Front - Pete Townshend (2 false starts)
Won't Get Fooled Again - All

 

 

Videos

I Can't Explain
Summertime Blues
Substitute, The Kids Are Alright, The Seeker, Young Man Blues, The Real Me, Who Are You

Bruce Springsteen speech, Pete Townshend speech, My Generation, I'm One, EF false start, Won't Get Fooled Again
Bruce Springsteen speech
Pete Townshend speech
My Generation
My Generation
My Generation
My Generation
I'm One
Won't Get Fooled Again
Wont Get Fooled Again
Red carpet clips
Artisan News Service (red carpet interviews)

 

Press

Variety
US News
Page Six
Ultimate Classic Rock
Rolling Stone
NJ.com
Music for Good
Newser
CBC
Detroit Free Press
Radio.com
Anti-Music

 

Review by Joel Naftelberg

MusiCares May 28th 2015 Best Buy Theater New York City
 
“I would not be wind milling a Fender Telecaster if it weren’t for Pete Townshend.” Said Bruce Springsteen, from the stage of New York City’s Best Buy Theater, at MusiCares’ 11th annual MAP Fund Benefit Concert, where he was presenting Pete Townshend with the Stevie Ray Vaughan Award for his commitment to helping other musicians with addiction. Apparently Bruce was not the only teenager that played air guitar in his bed room or basement while listening to Townshend and The Who. With my 13 year old son and my wife at my side, seeing Bruce on stage from 15 feet away at this intimate venue setting was an experience to behold.
 
The Who‘s manager, Bill Curbishley, was also honored with the From the Heart Award for his work with MusiCares, which offers programs and services to members of the music community including emergency financial assistance for basic living expenses and medical expenses. Bill spoke from the heart about his gratitude for having not taken a drink for 30 years. About the personal losses he had experienced directly from the clutches of addiction. He spoke of his personal transformation, of the magic of The Who family and from that being able to help support those in need by sharing his good fortune and the good fortunes of The Who.
 
Springsteen was one of many artists there to pay tribute to Curbishley and Townshend. Joan Jett (who with her band has been opening for The Who on the 2015 The Who Hits 50 Tour), Billy Idol, Willie Nile and Roger Daltrey all performed, accompanied by The Who’s touring band (John Corey on piano, Loren Gold on keyboards, Pino Palladino on bass, Frank Simes on keyboards, Zak Starkey on drums, and Pete’s brother Simon Townshend on guitars).
 
The night was an acknowledgement of pain and loss but more than that, it was a celebration of service, sharing and creativity. It also seemed to be about grace, miracles and the power of healing.
 
There were lots of classics from The Who’s songbook performed. Here’s the setlist.

The Who’s backing band – “Overture” (from Tommy)

Joan Jett – “Summertime Blues” and “I Can’t Explain” Joan is fantastic, but this evening she seemed to lack the enthusiasm and confidence she has shown with her own band as a tour opener for The Who. In that role she’s been sensational. The crowd needed to adjust to the mode of tribute.

Willie Nile – “Substitute” and “The Kids Are All Right” – Willie ripped through his numbers in great style and with Joan having warmed up the audience of around 1600 well-heeled guests, we were pleasantly surprised by what seemed his natural fluency with The Who’s music.

Roger Daltrey – “The Seeker” and “Young Man Blues” - What a great surprise! It was my understanding that Roger would not be here this evening. I was so turned on by his presence. “The Seeker” has been a standard on the Hits 50 Tour and Roger was in really good form. “Young Man Blues” – blew me away – I was thrilled to see it played and Roger was again in great form and seemed so pleased to be a part of the proceedings.
 
At the end of his performance Roger spoke of his friend Pete: “He’s written some of the most important rock music of the 20th century. He writes from a place from within the human spirit. Not many people dare to go there. He opens up wounds, he opens himself up, completely naked, in his songs and that is why they mean as much today as they did when he wrote them all those years ago.”

Billy Idol – “The Real Me” and “Who Are You” – Billy was a sensation. Powerful and having worked on the Quadrophenia Film and  the Tours of the mid 90’s was not only fluent in the music and vocals, he was strong, convincing and extremely entertaining. Billy expressed sincere gratitude to Bill and Pete for their help with his life and career. Very heartfelt.

The Who with Bruce Springsteen – “My Generation” - What a treat. Even though Bruce seemed a little stiff and doesn’t quite fit as second player to Pete Townshend to see him Brucify My Gggggeneration was fabulous. The Band was rocking with Pete banging chords. Not quite the energy of a Who concert but the awesomeness of Bruce Pete & Roger sharing the stage carried it.

Pete Townshend – “I’m One” Oh so cool. I will never tire of this song.
 
The Who also attempted “Eminence Front” after “I’m One,” but due to technical difficulties, they ditched it and went right to the finale.

The Who with Bruce Springsteen, Billy Idol and Willie Nile – “Won’t Get Fooled Again” – As Pete said with his acoustic guitar strapped on – “this is going to be bad but a good kind of bad.” WGFA was good fun and a good rock and roll spectacle to experience this classic with Billie, Willie, Bruce, Roger and Pete bouncing the vocals amongst them. Pete played the leader and as always on stage maintained control of the song as best he could. Great fun.
 
I had great personal identification with Springsteen’s speech. It was as powerful as any of the performances. Bruce wore reading glasses and read from hand written notes. My son and I were about 15 feet above and away from him (VIP Balcony) and his speech gave me shivers of warm identification – recollections and feelings included – such visions as a teenager who saw The Who, performed The Who in my parents basement, and Bruce’s words helped me recall once again how Pete and the Who have been a thread in my life for 45 years. From unknowing adolescence, through drug-hazed youth, fandom to friendship, wonderment to working - with it all a touch of humor and hellfire – a bitter sweet thread that has run through my life and the lives of so many of my contemporaries.
 
Here are some of the excerpts from Bruce’s speech:
 
“Pete’s got a long history of working hard and raising spirits and money for worthy causes… I could go on and tell you what Pete’s done for others, but I think I’ll tell you about what Pete’s done for me.
 
It was the summer of ’66 or ’67, it was the first American tour that The Who were on, and I’m on a long line snaking out of Convention Hall down the boardwalk.  And in big type: ‘Herman’s Hermits!’ And then: ‘The Who!’ I was the young, pimply-faced teenager who managed to [put together] enough money to see my first rock concert ever. Pete and the Who were young, pimply faced teenagers with a record contract, a tour and a rude, aggressive magic. They were on this tour, of all things, opening for Herman’s Hermits. There was no justice!
 
The first bands out, I think, were the Blues Magoos. You folks remember the Blues Magoos? I don’t believe you. But they had a great song called  “Ain’t Got Nothin’ Yet” and these electric suits, and the suits lit up. And it was high-level special effects for the time.
 
Then the Who came out and they played for probably no more than thirty minutes. Pete, in a cloud of smoke, demolished his guitar, bashing it over and over into the floor and his amplifier. The audience was filled with a significant amount of teeny boppers waiting for [the Herman’s Hermits hit single] ‘Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter.’ So they sat there with their mouths agape. Like, who are these guys? What are they doing? Why are they doing it? All I knew was that, for some reason, this music, and the demolishing of perfectly fine instruments, filled me with incredible joy. There was something wonderful about the wanton destruction of good, commercial property. It was the joy and giddiness of the riot that The Who managed to safely attain. Semi-safely attain! But all I knew was that it made me happy and it thrilled and inspired me.
 
I was in a band called The Castiles, I was about 16 years old. We had a gig the next weekend at a Catholic school dance. So I went out and bought a smoke bomb and a strobe light and I brought them over to the gig. and as the night neared its end, I wasn’t able to smash my guitar [like Townshend] – it was the only one I had! – so I lit the smoke bomb in the Catholic school basement and turned on the strobe light and I climbed on top of my amplifier holding a vase of flowers that I stole from one of the upstairs classrooms, and with this huge flourish I raised the vase of flowers as the flickering, blinding strobe lit me, with smoke all around me, and as the nuns looked on in horror, I smashed them onto the dance floor. I jumped off the amp and stomped all over the petunias! The vase of flowers simply failed to have the grandeur of a newly minted Telecaster being smashed to splinters, but we worked with what we had. I went home smiling, feeling a blood bond with Pete Townshend, and I never looked back.
 
As I grew older, The Who’s music seemed to grow with me; the sexual frustration, the politics, the identity… these themes coursed through my veins with every concurrent Who album. I always found myself there somewhere in their music. “The Seeker” is the guy in “Born to Run.” There’d be no “Down in Jungle Land” without Pete’s slashing bloody attack on his instrument. Pete is the greatest rhythm guitarist of all time. He showed you, you don’t have to play any lead. It’s an amazing thing to behold.
 
Pete managed to take the dirty business of rock and roll and somehow make it spiritual and turn it into a quest. He may hate this, but he identified the place where it was noble, and he wasn’t afraid to go there. I took a lot of that with me as the years passed by. So Pete, I’m here to say, congratulations, well deserved, and thanks for not just Who’s Next and ‘Who Are You,’ but for who I am.”
 
Video messages from other legends; contemporaries of Bill and Pete’s were played throughout the evening: Pink Floyd‘s Roger Waters said, “I much regret not being able to perform tonight with the Who over there. I hope I get another chance, Pete, before I grow old.”
 
Joe Walsh apologized for his absence, saying, “I’m sorry I couldn’t be there tonight and as you’re seeing this, I’ll be onstage at an Eagles concert in Eugene Oregon. Attendance is kind of mandatory or I would be there (with you). You’ve been a huge inspiration to all guitarists. It’s been an honor knowing you and being sober with you.”
 
Ron Wood, appearing with his Rolling Stones mate Mick Jagger, noted he still struggles with sobriety. “It gets better, doesn’t it?”
 
Elton John, meanwhile, said Townshend’s encouragement in his early career “Meant so much to me, coming from someone who I admired and loved so much as a musician and songwriter. You’re one of the best there’s ever been. I love you dearly.”
 
Pete in his acceptance of the Stevie Ray Vaughan Award seemed grateful for the honor. Pete is a fantastic raconteur and storyteller; he’s witty and well spoken. He mentioned “Almost as soon as our career kicked off, we seemed to be surrounded by dead people.” Keith Moon and John Entwistle were not mentioned specifically but their spirit loomed large over the proceedings. Regarding his own struggles with substance abuse, Pete spoke as if he were sharing with a recovery group, “At one point, I was doing like three bottles of brandy a day. I didn’t drink any water, I didn’t drink any tea, I just lived on cognac. It’s an interesting thing, you can do that. I don’t think I look too bad for someone who drank three bottles of cognac a day for 15 years. The secret for me, to be able to do this 50th anniversary tour with the Who, and still kind of put on a reasonable show and be up there and move around and enjoy the music has been the 30 years that I’ve been clean. This is not an indictment of booze, alcohol or drugs or bad behavior, it just didn’t work for me.”
 
Pete, for this we are all grateful.
 
Service, sharing and creativity. Grace, miracles and the power of healing.

To learn more about MusiCares, go to their website or visit the MusiCares Facebook page.

The Who has just wrapped up a U.S. leg of their tour, and they return to the US in the fall.

Pete Townshend - News, Articles, and History