Won't Get Fooled Again
Love Reign O'er Me
Behind Blue Eyes
A Quick One
Won't Get Fooled Again
I Can See For Miles
I Can't Explain
You Better You Bet
See Me Feel Me
Review by Wendy Fenner
Thursday night's show in Duluth started special when I saw my name scrolling on the big screen as a local Atlanta Who fan and ended extra special when I won the Shriner and Teen Cancer charity poster signed by both Pete and Roger.
Just as background, I had won a back stage meet and greet in Tampa 2007 that was cancelled due to Roger's illness. We returned for the makeup show, but the silk pass was no longer valid. Nonetheless I was able to use it to get backstage and Roger was gracious enough to sign a poster for me, but I missed Pete. I've been on a mission to get Pete's signature since.
So, before Thursday's show I took that poster off the wall but couldn't easily get it out of the frame. I was thinking of asking Simon to get Pete to sign it, but Steve convinced me that he wouldn't do it and the poster would probably get beer spilled on it or otherwise messed. I left it home, but did not give up on my mission.
When we were in line to meet Simon, I saw that the Shriner's and Teen Cancer were doing $20 drawing for a signed poster. I had all the songs on the Compilation CD except BE LUCKY. A sign from the RNR gods for sure so Steve bought me a ticket and off to the show we went.
The Who are still incredible. Perhaps not quite as ferocious in their 70s as they were in the 70s, but professional and on top of their games. The sound system is super clear just like the fabulous HD screen. Absolutely love the graphics including "Pictures of Moonie", LOL! Best tour since 2000.
The show ended with a blistering WGFA, final bows, and Roger wishing us to Be Lucky. Then me winning lottery number came up on the big screen for all to see. Thank you Roger for the fulfilling my dreams and completing my mission that started in 2007.
Don't miss The Who in 2015 and let me pay Roger's blessing forward. May you all BE LUCKY!!!
Review by Brian Cady
Pete was in a rare friendly, funny mood; more than I've ever seen him. Roger was endlessly futzing with his ear monitors, his guitar, his harmonica; crew members gathering around him every time Pete had the mike. Roger also did something I've never seen; wrapped his microphone cord around himself and got caught, missing a verse of "Amazing Journey". Pete did try to upset the lineup, calling for a try at "Young Man Blues". Roger nixed it, explaining to the audience that they couldn't change the set list that much because so much of the crew had to time everything to videos now. Pete responded, "Yeah, we're like Lady Gaga...I was going to wear a special pink bra!" Roger: "You promised!" Pete, referring to that stripped hat/cap he wears, said, "At least I remembered to wear my special fucking hat!" It was much less like a high-intensity Who concert and more like Pete and Roger throw a Who party. A fun check in with old friends, some laughs and some of the greatest rock songs of all time. Who's complaining?
Review by Eric Sprott
I’m not sure if it’s a product of sheer age or my line of work. Whatever it is though, I feel like my euphoric moments of pure fandom are few and far between for me at the ripe old age of 31. In the sports realm, I think it’s fairly understandable. By trade I’m the sports editor for my hometown newspaper, and with that, I cover the local college that I grew up rooting for and eventually attended, keeping up my rabid following of athletics. As a member of the media, the fiery, passionate fan in you almost always fades away to some degree, and I feel that has carried over to many aspects on my life. Simply put, it’s hard for me to entirely disengage and get lost in the moment.
A fan of The Who since I came strolling out of the womb in 1984, one of my earliest memories is watching “The Kids Are Alright,” and I clearly remember cheering and screaming so hard watching Pete smash his guitar at The Gorge in 2002 that I had to stop myself from vomiting on the people in front of me. In recent years — since smartphones really took off — I’ve spent good money on great seats for The Who, but I haven’t sung along to every song or done much hooting and hollering. I’ve done a lot of smiling, head bopping and a bit of singing, but I’ve made it a point to try to take great photos and videos.
Seeing The Who in Duluth — let’s call it what it is, Atlanta — on their 50th anniversary tour marked my eighth, and probably final, time seeing the band, and I had the great honor of watching from the fifth row on Pete’s side with my brother-in-law.
When the band came out, I took out my phone and starting snapping pictures, and I started recording just at the beginning of I Can’t Explain. But before the first time “can’t explain” was actually uttered in the song, I decided it was time to put the phone away and enjoy the show. I’m glad I did — I snapped a few photos here and there, but not much — because it was one hellacious show that I’m glad I didn’t spend the entire time watching through the view on my phone.
For me, the highlights had to be Pete’s stage banter for the entire evening, and many of the songs I had never heard the pleasure of hearing live — I Can See for Miles, Pictures of Lily, Magic Bus and Join Together. Bargain was a great, solid surprise. I could certainly be wrong, but I’m thinking it hadn’t been played since the 2002 tour, and I had seen on Facebook a run-through of the song at a recent sound check was a bit ragged. I thought it was spot on, and Pete humming along with the opening synthesizer was a real throwback that showed how great his voice can still be when he wants it to be.
One my favorite moments was leading into the song, as Pete was asking around about the key for the next song — which we in the audience didn’t know about yet. I’m sure with some foul language — I’m pretty sure I can remember hearing “What fucking key?” — he said “Let’s play Young Man Blues.” I was probably one of the few in the crowd who roared in approval, but it wasn’t to be, as Roger shot the idea down since there wasn’t a graphic/lighting theme to go with it. Pete then made reference to being like Lady Gaga and Kylie Minogue in terms of the non-musical elements at concerts. He said he was going to wear a pink bra, but his “stupid fucking hat” was good enough.
Magic Bus also featured some more great Pete humor, as he sang to Roger, “You can buy the Magic Bus … if you can explain to me … exactly what the fuck … this song is about.” Before I forget, a few of the other great Pete moments included Roger saying he used to ride horses in Duluth, noting how much Atlanta has branched out over the years. Pete deadpanned he had “never ridden horses in Duluth,” and called the branching out the “Elton John effect,” as he has a residence in Atlanta. He said Elton sends a Christmas card every year and asked Roger if he got one. He said he didn’t, and Pete also laughed, saying he gets one from George W. Bush. Being in the South, he quickly noted “it wasn’t a bad thing!” Pete also referenced Bob Dylan being from Duluth. He was kind of off, since Dylan was born in Duluth, Minnesota, and Roger said something about him being from up North. Pete took that as from being from outer space, saying Dylan was dropped off by aliens.
Back to the music, I absolutely loved Join Together, and among the other highlights for me were I’m One, The Seeker, You Better You Bet and Behind Blue Eyes, whose second half sounded more explosive to me than most times in recent years. I don’t want to say “on the negative side” because it was a fantastic show, but among the few misses — and I can’t believe I’m typing this, because I absolutely love the rendition from the Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, which Pete referenced before playing it — was A Quick One While He’s Away, because it just didn’t work for me. It really slowed things down, and including the lines from the original album version seemed a little weird since the most famous renditions of the song omit them. And referring back to Pete’s singing in both Bargain and I’m One, Eminence Front was disappointing, as he shouted more than he sang. I’m sure it has to do with the sheer stage volume during the song, but I’d love to hear him actually sing the song. My personal gold standard for the song is Toronto 1982, but again, I really don’t want to complain too much about my hero!
Roger had a microphone mishap during Amazing Journey, causing him to miss a line, and Pinball Wizard had a major vocal flub from Pete, which threw everything off and seemed to carry as far as Roger opening See Me, Feel Me. His last two goes of See Me, Feel Me before the band came in were stronger, and the song finished pretty gloriously I have to say. There was no going wrong with Baba or Won’t Get Fooled Again, of course, and with no encore — which we know Roger doesn’t believe in — that was the end of the night in front of a really good–sized crowd.
Just before the synthesizer break in the grand finale, I had pulled my phone back out, and I recorded through the end of the song with the crowd going crazy.
But much like the case during Can’t Explain, I knew I had to put it away. The thought came over me that I had to properly salute the band, and I stopped recording and put the phone back in my pocket to clap so I could actually show my appreciation instead of recording the moment.
After getting to attend eight shows in five states dating back to 1997— not bad for a 31-year-old, I think — I couldn’t thank Pete and Roger enough. For me personally, it would have been hard for them to go out on a higher note. In the simplest terms, there’s never going to be a band like The Who again, and I feel fortunate to have been along for only a short part of the ride.
Review by Suzanne Coker
Sound check was enjoyable. As usual, seating was in the front section of floor seats, not in the very front section; I was about three rows back from that, dead center, behind a couple of empty seats, so I got a clear view and balanced sound. Roger just sort of ambled out quietly, Pete made more of an entrance, both stood at the edge of the stage and shaded their eyes looking for us. Frank was concerned about an off tone he was hearing, and they spent some time figuring out where it was coming from; everyone was hitting the right chord, everything was in tune. Hmmm. As best I could gather, they concluded it was harmonics, but the investigation led to a lot of time being spent on Eminence Front. Roger was also having some problems with his amp, which got switched out a couple of times. They finally played the song straight through and all seemed well. Other songs played through were I'm One and Who Are You.
Through all this, I was reminded of every other set and combination of Guys With Guitars I've ever encountered. Some things apparently don't change with fame and experience, and I find that oddly comforting, as well as amusing. I wonder if having an audience for sound check helps, or makes some things more difficult. Possibly both.
At the end, Roger talked to the audience about TCA and said that all of the money from VIP packages went to the charity. Made me feel better about it. Sarah Sterner was there, and he introduced her; I had never met her face to face, and didn't get the opportunity to speak to her, but thought it was a nice gesture.
There's always a little confusion around the exact location of this venue; it's in a town called Duluth, which these days is essentially a suburb of Atlanta. If you're outside the metropolitan area, you'd refer to it as Atlanta, but if you're actually in Atlanta, you might call it by name simply to indicate what part of town you meant. “I'm going to Atlanta to see my friends.” “Oh yeah? What part of town they live in?” “Duluth.” Like that.
Confusion got a huge geographical extension and even provided a little extra fun this time around, as the programs, posters, and some of the t-shirts all had the show listed as Duluth MN (Minnesota.) Pete obliquely referred to the mix up during a nice little bit of stage banter, started when Roger talked about how their hotel was actually in Atlanta, then they rode all the way out here to the venue, and how it used to be a rural area with chickens and horses and you could go riding...Pete responded that he'd never been horseback riding in Duluth, but he was very pleased to play a show in Bob Dylan's birthplace...Priceless.
He also said Atlanta had grown, sort of like Elton John—not certain exactly how, but somehow this became a conversation about Christmas cards, the central joke being a question from Pete to Roger: does Elton send you a card? It all ended with Roger growling that he doesn't believe in Christmas...not sure if he meant himself, or Elton John!
Lots of good moments like that: Pete introducing Magic Bus by saying “I'll GIVE you the magic bus if you can tell me what this fucking song means!”
A story I hadn't heard before about The Kids Are Alright, that Pete had a girlfriend “for about twenty minutes” and Roger had a girlfriend for “about twenty minutes” and the two girls didn't get along, so Pete got rid of his, and wrote this song about it.
Pete doing the mock-diva thing: I think it was during sound check, something about “I can get to any key with this chord,” but apparently, during the show, not quite so flexible; there was a mixup in his guitars, which led to lots of swapping, a riff involving Lady Gaga and how he'd planned to wear a special bra tonight (Roger: “You promised!”) and the claim that someone wasn't reading the setlist...also, we apparently almost got Young Man Blues, since he had that guitar in his hand. But the diva shtick really kicked in with outraged horror: “I can't play a white guitar!” followed by relief as the whole thing finally got sorted out “Ah, better—this one is crimson.”
Roger had his moments, too: a truly untranscribable gesture after getting tangled in his mic cord during a complex maneuver; also breaking out a gruff, rumbling sort of John voice to introduce Magic Bus: “This is a song you lot ask for so much, we're gonna do it—but you gotta stand for it.”
There was an unusual amount of nostalgia in my feelings during this show, maybe partly set off by Pete quoting Dylan Thomas after I Can't Explain: “Rage, rage against the dying of the light!” And then warning us he'd been building up quite a bit of rage...
Song by song:
I Can't Explain—I kept thinking of Pete's “absurdity” comments in the Rolling Stone interview.
The Seeker-- Good rollicking version; that moment where I can start to set everything else aside and enter that other-dimensional energy that happens at a good Who show (and probably even at a bad one-- though we all know there's no such thing!)
Who Are You—the visuals start to catch my attention, those haunting portraits of the band as young men...more about the visuals later.
The Kids Are Alright—Pete's intro story mixing oddly with memories of my one and only karaoke experience. Thumper the biker chick and the Ellen Degeneres lookalike with the killer voice, both of whom apparently just loved my attempt at this one...yeah, very oddly.
I Can See For Miles—Pete introduces with a crack about the few of us old enough to have actually been alive when this came out, and I'm 7 again. The song'd been out for a few years, but it was the first time I've heard it, my very first Who song. It stood out, even back then.
Pictures of Lily—Keith on the screen, in drag. Roger turns around and sings to him. What other band could possibly pull off something like that—or even want to?
My Generation—that unique energy jumps up a few notches, and so does the crowd. Me included.
Magic Bus—Well, Pete, it's about sheer, brainless fun. And anticipation.
Behind Blue Eyes—Realized I like the second part of the song better than the first, not because of the music but the lyrics. I like the relative tenderness of the first part, but the lyrics are more about self-pity; the second part is more about learning to live with anger, even rage. This is something I like about a lot of this music, and that might even begin to explain my bond with Quadrophenia...
Bargain—Just beautiful tonight. Spiritual element rises, to mix with raw energy and structure. Three threads weaving, red energy, cool blue intellect, and clear white light. One plus one equals...
Join Together—And we did. Just for a moment, not even for the whole song—but yeah. There was more than a touch of Lifehouse, One Note lived not written. This. Is why. I came. (Well, that and Roger's increasingly visible chest and exquisite...well, you know. ) The difference between enjoying a song and that moment when the entire place, onstage and in front of it, gets lifted a little ways into the zone.
You Better You Bet—After each intensely spiritual song, we retreat into a more worldly one. Keeps a good balance and flow.
I'm One—Memories of my friend's long-ago version of this at a party still haunt me, but there's no longer much need to compare. His version was completely vulnerable, spontaneous and raw and as naked as I ever saw him get, stripped down of necessity, just him and a borrowed guitar. But Pete is onstage with the whole damn big band, so there's no way it can be that stripped down, no matter how sincere he gets. I love both approaches, and it's a measure of the song, how effective both can be.
Love Reign O'er Me—other than a small technical problem with the mic, a flawless version. At the end, Roger hit the high note but then dropped down—and down—and down into his lowest range, a sort of anti-scream that really works on several levels: a way to both meet and say fuck you to any expectations; an indication he's still working it, still exploring the song; maybe also a kind of statement. Spirit is down deep as well as up high, in the dirt as much as the clouds.
Also, the extended piano intro gives Roger a chance to get re-dressed yet again in his ear monitors.
Eminence Front—And again, the energy backs off, letting us get our faces back in place. Such a nice cool groove, lyrics and music not so much closely tied as lightly bouncing off each other, each on its own loop, intersecting at “come and join the party,” then diverging again...this one has pulled me back to life a time or two over the years as well, but in a completely different way than some of the more intense songs. It's got its own sort of mathematical intensity, I think.
A Quick One While He's Away—I've been a little scared about this one, because, well, how could they ever equal that balls-to-the-wall version on Rock and Roll Circus? But now I get it. Throughout the show, the reinvigorated vocal harmonies have made themselves felt, but here—oh hell yeah. That's the point of doing this again. It's not a rival to the earlier definitive version; that one remains definitive. This is something new, and well worth doing.
That said, there's still nothing so sweet as John's falsetto. Still missed. Roger does a good job as Ivor, though, dropping into that growly-John voice for the spoken lines. And they seem to have found a little Johnny Cash in parts of it...or maybe that's just me.
Amazing Journey/Sparks— During the bit of Overture that bridges Amazing Journey and Sparks, Roger follows up the original lyrics with “Too many of them never come home.” It gives this a different energy; less trippy, more angry. I start thinking about how spirituality can become escapism; anger brings action, and real spirituality requires action, not just contemplation. It leads to participation, not escape. A good reminder.
Pinball Wizard—thinking about a former coworker who was an actual pinball champ, played in tournaments and mostly won them. Wish he could be here, he'd probably enjoy the hell out of this.
See Me Feel Me/Listening To You—Intense. Cathartic. Very little conscious thought.
Baba O'Riley—Powerhouse version, nothing gonna get in its way. Some fussing with the harmonica during sound check has paid off, Roger sounding great on vocals and on harp.
Won't Get Fooled Again—crowd is so into it, the energy alone is deafening. This venue is where I first noticed that thing of clapping in time during the synthesizer solo; at least a few of us kept the tradition going. Loved what I could comprehend of Pete's guitar work; I admit a lot of what he does is over my head, but getting to where I can pick up bits and pieces. Absurd or not, he's still working this thing, too.
On the whole, a very fun, intense, and liberating show.
At the end, Roger said goodnight—and goodbye. Dylan Thomas aside, that was the only true whiff of mortality about it; overall, it felt like another great show, not so much a farewell. If it is the end, this is the way to go: have a great show, and then...there just isn't another one. Right now, it's all still going on, but in a couple years I might look back and think, hey, something's missing...and I'm okay leaving it at that for now. Can't think too much about that “goodbye.”