Review by Carrie Pratt
The show in Portland was my third and final show of The Who Hits 50 tour, finishing off a victorious sweep of the Pacific Northwest. If this turns out to be my last Who show ever, I can say with all honesty that the last set of shows were amongst the best that I have seen over the past 40 years. They really are hitting their peak this tour, and you could tell that each night they were building on momentum and energy of the previous shows, putting on such incredibly powerful and emotional performances. I hope that they continue on this trajectory for the remaining week of the US tour!
Like Vancouver, I had an awesome seat in the front row, right in front of Pete. I was completely surrounded by long time Who friends who populated most of the first and second rows, and the whole show really felt like a big celebratory party. Songs like “Join Together” and “Listening To You” are spine tingling to hear from that location, as the band really draws on the energy from the crowd. Roger runs around the stage pointing the microphone straight at the audience for a group sing-along, and you really feel like you are part of the band.
It’s so much fun when Pete and Roger interact with the fans up front, and this night they pointed out John Ryan, who was sitting next to my husband Tom. John was holding up a sign saying it was his 100th show, and you could see them a few times on the video screen when they panned across the audience. That is quite a milestone to achieve, and many other friends who were at the Portland show have already gone past their 100th show. I haven’t attended any where near that many shows, limiting each tour to a good sampling of 5 or less. To quote Pete from his hit song A Little Is Enough: “I eat an oyster and I feel the contact, but more than one would be a waste!” For all the shows I have seen, I rarely have had the opportunity to sit in the front, so this was a very special treat for me to be able to experience it one more time.
I won’t go into details of the show, since you can watch videos of the whole thing, but I will say that Pete and Roger were in great spirits all night, and their playing was flawless throughout. They put on a truly stunning performance. The stage banter was super fun as always, and it looked like they were all having a splendid evening. The Portland crowd was definitely into it, and while not as loud as the Seattle fans, they gave the band a genuine Northwest cheer all night long!
After the show, Tom and I had the pleasure of going backstage to meet Pete. We had a nice chat, and he introduced us to Ron Nevison, who worked as the audio engineer on the Quadrophenia album. Since it was two days before Pete’s birthday, I gave him a present of Townshend’s Tea, which I bought in Portland’s funky Northeast area earlier that day. He liked the little tins that had his name on them. It was lovely to see him again, and it was the perfect way to cap off a perfect evening!
The festivities weren’t quite over though. When we got back to our hotel, there was a very large gathering of our Who friends in the bar, and we all hung out and partied until they closed the joint down! It was so nice to talk to everyone, and it truly was a fantastic way to end my unforgettable Who week!
Review by Pat Stanton
The Portland show last night was enjoyable and lively although the set list was further shortened as 5:15 was cut and Lily stayed off the list. Squeeze Box survived.
Pete was very chatty, telling the same stories as other shows. He again thanked the audience for holding on to our tickets for so long (mine was purchased October 13, 2014) and for actually coming out. At the end of the show he told us to tell our friends who didn't come out that they missed it to which Roger added "It is too bloody late".
Pete was animated all night, jumping around and traveling well outside his microphone vicinity. Cords became tangled at one point but Roger is a pro at snapping his lead to loosen it even though it was mixed in with Pete's.
A funny exchange was before Squeeze Box when Binky was late bringing out Roger's guitar and Pete said "you're not going to play guitar are you?" (like he doesn't always play guitar on this song) and then added "why don't you play accordion" Roger looked at him like he was crazy and told him "because I don't fucking know how to play an accordion". Pete thought that was really funny.
This was long time fan, John Ryan's 100th show. He held up a sign in the second row on and off all night and finally charged up to the front row between me and Horace for WGFA. Roger took exception to this, coming up to the very front of the stage, telling him to go back until he realized that Horace had invited him. After the song, Pete acknowledged John, saying he probably held the sign up 100 times during the show. Classic moment for him.
Roger sounded absolutely wonderful even though he wasn't feeling 100%. His Love Reign had a different ending, without the falsetto and was beautiful.
The Tommy set was very special. Acid Queen fits well with Sparks and Pinball Wizard.
The crouched pose that Roger often takes before Pinball Wizard almost had a mishap as he came up a little awkwardly and tweaked a muscle in his left leg, laughing and mugging a little as he did it. It didn't stop him from sprinting all over the stage for the remainder of the show.
Pete didn't dwell on his aging jokes last night as much as at some shows but he did say It was good to wake up and be alive in sunny Portland yesterday morning to which Roger added it was good to alive anywhere after last year. I agree - the weather was glorious yesterday and again today in Portland.
Next is four California shows with the first stop Oakland. Fingers crossed fans abstain from smoking anything while in the venues.