Review by Lisa Grand
It was cool to watch the band work out various issues such as monitor levels during the sound check. The sound check tonight seemed to be more of an actual working session than a performance as did some of the sound checks at the other shows.
The show itself tonight was tremendous fun. Pete and Roger were in a fantastic mood. I thought Pete was especially funny. He exclaimed at the end of the show that he had lost his voice, but whatever he had left, he would give to us. Roger was pretty patient until the very end of the show when he and Pete wanted to start Tea and Theatre but people wouldn't stop shouting. He said something to the effect of, "I'll just stand here and wait--you can't be listening if you're talking," which sounded very much like a schoolteacher scolding a bunch of children. This made us laugh.
Pete did a scissor kick at the end of Won't Get Fooled Again which my husband Jon miraculously captured in a photo. Pete is so captivating that I find it hard to take my eyes off of him to see what other members of the band are doing.
Review by Richie Kaplan
Since the tour was announced, it was the show at MSG that I wanted to go to. But I did not get tickets day of sale and by the time I started looking it was crap seats (obstructed view) even for me, who is happy to just be in the arena for most shows. Time passes and I look occasionally on Ticketmaster and StubHub, but it's either too rich for me or horrible seats. Finally on November 30, I look again and find good (for me) seats at Newark that I can manage. 18th row, floor dead center. I check with our ticket maven, Lauren, and her advice is that if I wanted to buy an 18th row center pair in order to take Emma, it was a good purchase, but if it was just me, it was a bad purchase, and I should hold out for better. (Lauren, correct me if I am wrong here or anywhere.) Otherwise I believe her feeling is waiting to day of show and take my chances at BO or outside. Seeing as that I am bringing my 13 YO, I really wanted to avoid the disappointment of not getting in. So I pull the trigger and go with the 18th row.
I do not tell Emma about the show until the day before. Seeing as this is her first real concert, I wanna do all that I can to make it special. I go over to visit and I tell her that I have an early Xmas present. I take out a small gift bag and present it to her. Inside are earplugs. She gives me the "WTF" look that I anticipated, I "stammer" and tell her that that's just part of the gift. I pull out of my pocket the tickets and show her. She lets out a scream, as she has wanted to see The Who, especially since she got to meet Pete at the Bookends book signing.
Fast forward to the next day. I take off work early, pick up Emma early from school and head down to Newark early, as Lauren told me that while she couldn't make any promises, she was going to try to work some magic for us. Well, she did, and the next thing I know, we've got wristbands, and we're on our way to soundcheck! We walk into the arena, after most of the people are seated, and almost before I realize what's happened, Lauren has moved Emma and me up to the front row center row of the soundcheck seating. I am quite jazzed for it and I explain to Emma what a treat this is. Being in an otherwise empty arena, with the world's greatest band performing a few songs as, if just for us (and the others there too). We are sitting in the front row of the second section on the floor. I'm guessing this is where the set-up is for all soundchecks. The band comes on and after a small bit of applause from those there, get down to business of the sound check. They run through most of: Relay (Zak and keyboards only), Quadrophenia, Who Are You, The Real Me (maybe) and I'm One. After Quadrophenia, I joke to Emma that now that she has seen The Who live, we can go home. I get that look of death that only teens can share. It was a surreal experience to this long time fan. It took a couple of days for it to sink in on Emma how fortunate we were to be there.
After the soundcheck we go to the room where the dinner buffet was served. We sit down with Lauren, Lisa and husband Jon, Eddie and others (sorry if my memory fails to mention you, no slight intended). The food is decent, not great, but certainly edible. Lots of flat screens, playing Quadrophenia (the movie) and Who music thru the PA. We eat, chat and enjoy the comfort of each other and not being with the throngs coming into the arena. At this time, a nice lady from the staff bring Emma and I the lenticular VIP passes that we failed to get when we first came in for the soundcheck. She comes back a short while later with a Pete Townshend guitar pick for Emma that she tells us is directly from his guitar case. Emma is loving this! I am coveting the pick!
About 7pm, we leave the "dining room" to find the merchandise stand where Simon is autographing his CD. After finding it, purchasing CDs (one for Emma, one for me) and Emma her first concert shirt, Simon walks thru the crowd, totally unrecognized except a few of us. He comes over says "Hi' to all and starts signing. I introduce myself to him and Emma. He personalized her inscription "To Emma, Simon Townshend" We each take a photo with him, thank him and move aside for others. Emma is on cloud nine having met a member of The Who, Pete's brother. She is beaming ear to ear with her celebrity encounter. A few minutes later Lauren meets up with us and we hustle into the arena as Vintage Trouble are playing. Lauren "escorts us" to our seats, which are not in row 18 anymore but in the third row where Lisa and Jon were to be sitting, dead center. They have been arranged to be at the rail instead!! I think I can safely say that we are all happy for these new arrangements.
Vintage Trouble is a very high energy funk, rock four piece that I thought were fantastic. They have a fun sound and I hope that they go far. Being in row three allows for great eye contact with the band. Emma is petite, so she either stood so she could see or stood on her seat when The Who were on stage. But with VT, she was really enjoying the music and the eye contact/acknowledgement that she got from the band members who I think were amused that someone so young was so close and enjoying the music so much. After their set, they announced that they would be in a certain section to meet/greet/autograph. Emma wanted to go meet more band members, but not wanting to risk moving and not getting back to these new seats, I told her no, that The Who would be on shortly. Around this time, I get to meet Kathy V, who was sitting two seats away from me. Sorry that we did not have time to chat more...
The Who come on!! Emma is so excited. They take their places and Roger's mic stand is right in front of us. We could not be in a better spot. Because the people in the front row were up at the rail and with Emma standing on the chair for almost the whole show, the first person that Roger can see as he looks out is my Emma! She made eye contact with him and Pete all night. Every time she did, she giggled with excitement as she was acknowledged by them. They run through Quadrophenia and I am singing everything, Emma is soaking it all in, loving the excitement of it all. The music, the proximity, the videos, the crowd. I have her turn around to see the arena that the band is seeing and she is awestruck by the view of the thousands of people.
After Quadrophenia, they run thru the "hits" most of which Emma is more familiar with. So as much as she enjoyed Quadrophenia she really got into this section. Especially Pinball Wizard and Baba O'Riley. Between songs when Pete is talking, she makes eye contact with him again and this time she waves at him. Pete says something to the effect of "This cute little girl keeps waving to me as I'm trying to give my bloody speech". I ask Emma if he was talking about her, at first she says no, but then yes. I ask her why she said no, and she tells me that she was afraid that I would be mad (I get the daddy fear/respect thing). I told her, "No... Pete Townshend just spoke to you from stage, that is something for history!" I could not be more proud of the intersection of my Who life and my daughter. Simply perfect.
Show ends, we linger with Lauren, Eddie, Lisa & Jon, I see Rob, meet Duke for the first time. Chat for a few as the arena crew start dismantling the seats and The Who crew do their stuff on stage, but we have to go. As much as I wish I could have stayed out more, my daddy responsibilities tell me that I hafta get Emma home, because it is a school night after all. The hard ass that I am told her that she had to go to school the next day. Finally get going out of the traffic jam that is Newark after a show. I get Emma home about 12:30 or 1 AM, then get myself home.
I ask Emma a few days later about what she thought about the show. She tells me that she really enjoyed all of it, the entire experience. Although she was not really familiar with Quadrophenia, she loved the music and was amazed that Pete wrote all of it. As a civilian, she preferred the hits set, but she wants to hear all of The Who music.
It was great to meet so many of you, I wish it was everyone here that was there!! Thanks to all that made the whole evening so fantastic.
My biggest thanks and appreciation goes to Lauren, who to quote her "...was able to help out and upgrade many people, facilitating one, big, lovefest." You are fantastic to do what you did out of the goodness of your heart, the love of The Who and the love of others. Your generosity made for a fantastic experience for myself and more importantly for my daughter. She and I will never forget that night.
PS - For Christmas, Emma is getting a shadowbox with the tickets, wrist bands, guitar pick, the VIP pass and photos. Also I am giving her a collection of Who music to get her trained right!