Review by Brandon Mayer
So my ears are still ringing from last night. So it's probably a good time to review the show. Before the review let me preface that I will try to be unbiased, but The Who has and always will be my favorite band. With that being said on to the review........
First up a little glimpse into the pre-show festivities. I had VIP to this show so I had access to some pre-show activities. This included a peak and sit in on the sound check as well as some British inspired food and beverages. The sound check was amazing. This was the second one I have had the privilege of sitting in on. The first being last year on The Who's Quadrophenia Tour. This sound check got off to a fast start with Pete Townshend dropping his first of many "Fuck Offs" within 5 minutes of us being ushered in. The entire band sans Roger was onstage when we came in. This became a bit of thing that Pete bantered about until Roger came out. One of the many banters included Pete mentioning that they (us in the crowd) will cheer and clap when Roger comes out. Of course this is exactly what happened. Which caused Roger to inquire if we had cheered for Pete, to which Pete said no. This caused a cheer for Pete at the urging of Roger, which then lead to another "Fuck off" from Pete. Once Roger came out we got an almost entire version of "Who Are You". They then did bits and pieces of numerous other songs including; "I Can See For Miles", "I'm One", and "I Can't Explain". Towards the end of the sound check, Pete explained the different ways to say "Fuck Off". He explained there was the British way and the Kevin Spacey way. After the sound check, we were ushered into a party room for the food and beverages with a British theme. Beverage selection included a special drink the "Bell Boy", which was in homage to the dearly departed Keith Moon. The food was delicious. The drinks were amazing, but this is a music blog so onto to the opener recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Joan Jett & The Blackhearts.
I had amazing seats for this gig Floor 3 Front Row seats 1 and 2. Joan came out said hello and went right into "Bad Reputation". Great song great rock riff. She then went into "Cherry Bomb". Another good song with a nice groove. She followed that up with "Do You Wanna Touch Me" and "You Drive Me Wild" which had an awesome bass groove to it. Next up was an intro about the movie she did with Michael J. Fox, "Light of Day". This lead to her singing the title track of that movie, which was written by Bruce Springsteen. There were many congratulations to Joan on her induction being shouted from the close seats to which she said a gracious "Thank You." Next up with a little intro was "Love is Pain". The intro was basically explaining how sometimes love is pain, but you find a way through the pain to the see the love. The next song up was "French Song". This song came with an intro as well. This one explaining the back story of the song being that someone wanted to have a ménage à trois with her and someone else. She followed this up with a dedication to those affected by the recent Amtrak crash in her hometown of Philadelphia, in which she offered up good vibes and thoughts to them. The song was off of her new album and entitled "Fragile". This was a good song. With her set nearing the end, she went into some of her most known tunes starting with "I Love Rock and Roll". This song included an awesome crowd sing-a-long of the chorus. Next up was the Tommy James & The Shondells cover "Crimson and Clover". Joan closed out her set with "I Hate Myself for Loving You". Joan Jett & The Blackhearts were a great opener. Joan thanked the crowd and left the stage with and now it's time for The Who.
Now was the intermission. So instead of talking about the nothingness that was going on during that let's jump back after all the name of this blog is "Ramblings of A Music Mind". So after the food and beverages we proceed back upstairs to get in line to meet Simon Townshend. Of course if you have been following The Who's tour you know that for a small donation to Teenage Cancer America, which is the American Side of Roger Daltrey's Teenage Cancer Trust in Britain, you could meet Simon. For those of you who do not know about this great charity feel free to read up on it at https://teencanceramerica.org It is a charity to help teens with cancer and their families. So I ended up second in line to meet Simon. I bought his new solo CD to have signed and I also brought a jacket I had purchased from his solo tour in 2013, which was a very limited release mainly only to those in his road crew for that tour and a few that were sold to the public. As Simon signed the cd I handed him the jacket as well to which he seemed quite surprised to see since they were only available for purchase from England. Needless to say as always Simon was extremely nice and awesome to meet. He closed with a "Cheers" and a handshake. Alright, now it's time for The Who.
The energy in the crowd as the time for The Who to take the stage was building and building. On the video board we were being shown images of the dearly departed members of The Who, John Entwistle and Keith Moon. Big rounds of applause came for both montages of them. We were also shown images from the storied 50 years of The Who. There was also a touching image of the recently passed blues legend BB King, which drew a great round of applause from the audience. The members of The Who began to come out to applause, then out come the 2, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, which drew a large round of cheers. They waste no time and go into right into a driving version of "I Can't Explain". They then jump straight into "The Seeker". Pete begins doing his trademark windmills almost immediately.
The Who seem to be on fire right out of the gates. Next up is "Who Are You" . They do a version somewhat similar to the one Roger tends to do on his solo tours, which includes Roger throwing in some acoustic guitar. After this Pete goes into a story about once having a girlfriend from Columbus and how when the fans are chanting, "Who,Who,Who" it sometimes either sounds like apes or people booing. This leads into the title song from The Who movie "The Kids are Alright". I was hoping for a redux of the time Pete added a verse to this song, which happened at Royal Albert Hall back in 2000, but it wasn't to be. The images on the big screen during this song were shots with "Jimmy" from Quadrophenia riding through the British countryside on his Vespa. Pete's vocals had that growl that all diehard Who fans love.
After this, Pete mentions playing the Monterey Pop Festival, which leads to a mention of Kanye West headlining it now, which leads to lots of boos. This somehow leads into "I Can See for Miles". The harmonies on this contributed by Frank Simes, Loren Gold, Simon Townshend and John Corey really add to this song. Next up is the classic "My Generation". There was a bit of a mix up towards the end of the tune, which lead to Pete yelling at drummer Zak Starkey for not following his lead. At the end of the song Pete explains he wanted to do a double show-off not just a single one. This lead to a great laugh out of Roger. They followed with "Behind Blue Eyes". This was about the only time where Roger's voice showed a little wear as it became a bit gravely. The imagery behind on the screen during this song was awesome with a giant blue eye with images of the band where the pupil should be.
Up next was "Bargain". It was during this song that I looked at Pete's pick guard and noticed lines of blood, interesting for me is this is the second time I have been at a show where this happened. The first being Philly in '08. At the conclusion of the song, Pete mentions he has cut his finger and has silicone and a towel and asks the crowd for some super glue. This leads into a story about Keith Moon from when they were touring in Texas. Pete mentions Keith found a firework store to purchase some items to "have some fun" at the Holiday Inn they were currently staying at. As Keith was purchasing the items for his "fun" later, he sees some military grade super glue on the counter. Pete continues that a wry smile came across Keith's face as he said "super glue?" Needless to say Pete says Keith got the super glue as well and proceeded to super glue either a member of the band or long time sound guy Bob Pridden's hotel room furniture to the ceiling that night. It was awesome to hear a story like that.
This long intro lead into "Join Together". There was an amazing crowd sing-a-long of this song. Pete's finger is now cured and we are on to "You Better You Bet". This tune is off of a later album "Face Dances". Great song and good harmonies once again. They bring out an acoustic for Pete which leads to an intro about the Quadrophenia tour and mention that the next 2 songs are off that album. "I'm One" is up next. Pete mentions to Bob Pridden that he needs his monitor turned up and that he doesn't know why they do a sound check because it always changes after the show starts. Pete's vocals were once again growling throughout this great cut off of Quad. Next up is the vocal challenging "Love Reign O'er Me". This is the one song that has been giving Roger trouble and is one of the harder songs to sing. Any questions about his voice were quickly quelled with this number. He hit the loud "love" line right on queue and ended the song with a Johnny Cash like deep voice.
One of my favorite later Who songs follows up, "Eminence Front". The first time I was able to see The Who live Pete explained what this song was about, banker friends during the last big stock market crash in Britain giving up everything they had except for their illicit habits and thus keeping an "Eminence Front". The angst in Pete's vocals on this song are amazing, he even added in "Just a fucking put on." This was a great rendition of this song. Pete begins mentioning how you used to be able to record a record fairly quickly and how the next song came about because they had a long space left on the record and needed to fill it. Thus the first mini opera was born. He also makes mention of how this was back when mini skirts were a big trend and how the keyboardist from The Animals once noticed that Pete's girlfriend at the time had a skirt so small that she was popping out of it. On to "A Quick One, While She's Way", the first kind of rock opera The Who did. The song was derived from 4 songs Pete had that he thought he could tell a story from.
They followed this up with another mini opera, this time a few songs off the record "Tommy". They start with "Amazing Journey", which lead right into "Sparks". Roger banging the 2 tambourines into oblivion throughout "Sparks". The surprising part to me was that Roger took the tidbit of "Captain Walker". I was expecting Pete as in shows last he takes that part. They closed this mini opera with "See Me, Feel Me" right into "Listening to You". After this Pete pardons himself and states let me wipe my nose. This leads into Pete doing band intros; Simon Townshend on guitar and backing vocals, John Corey on keyboards and backing vocals, Frank Simes musical director keyboards and backing vocals, Loren Gold on keyboards and backing vocals, Zak Starkey on drums. Roger takes over and announces and the writer of all of our music Pete Townshend, to which Pete resounds and on vocals Roger Daltrey.
The follow up with the amazing "Baba O'Riley". Yes for those of you who don't know the song is not called Teenage Wasteland. Teenage Wasteland is a lyric not the title. Pete does have a track entitled Teenage Wasteland, it was part of a project he worked on called "The Lifehouse Chronicles". Anyway, Roger's voice is literally the strongest it has been all night during Baba. With the show winding down The Who prepare to close the night with "Won't Get Fooled Again". It is an amazing close to an extraordinary night. The drum solo lead to one of the best screams I've had the pleasure of hearing Roger do live. If there were any questions about if his voice would hold up he ended them for me with the "Yeaaaaaah!!!!!" Roger and Pete thanked the crowd for coming out and supporting them for all these years and they both stated that "We are all in this together and without you we wouldn't be here."
It was an amazing night. I had never Joan Jett & The Blackhearts before this gig. They were a great opener. This may be one of the last times I get to see my band and it was just as powerful as the first time I saw them. The Who continue to rock longer and louder than most bands half their age. Despite the setlist being cut a few songs from previous stops, no "Magic Bus" or "Squeeze Box", it was still an awesome show. So for now I guess it is time to get back on the bus until it is time for another session of "Ramblings of A Music Mind".