Review by Trish Pottersmith
Mudfest 2015 Report
It felt like my own personal Woodstock. You wouldn't believe the amount of rain that was pouring down for the hours and hours before The Who. Then, a few moments before The Who came on stage, it stopped. And by the time we got to Baba, the sun came out somewhat dramatically, which Roger acknowledged to the thrilled crowd (let's just say it had been a long day).
Roger came out and said 'agh, we can deal with a little rain - better than being in the heat!' That was encouraging - a signal that they were all in. I was trying to be relatively unspoiled during the run-up to it and had avoided all video. My thought before this show was that Roger would be wanting to pull anything not-so-familiar. Which they mostly did - they are so weirdly self-conscious about these things. They had a major false start on Pictures of Lily. Roger looked out into the crowd plaintively and said "Well, shit happens!" and got a big laugh. I think he was absolutely mortified that they had screwed up so obviously. Pete saved it by telling us that they had to shorten their set due to festival time but no one had seen fit to tell any of them what the new order was. He joked that they were supposed to do a greatest hits set list but really they didn't have that many greatest hits :-) He decided they really were going to do PoL and told a little story about it. He then said about Lily "she then fucked an important man", or something like that. I was thinking during the show that they had done a good job overall with the set list, in terms of this particular crowd - almost too good. I had the feeling that they were one step away from doing a "Greatest Hits!!!" cruise or show in Branson. Except, Pete is such a cheeky bastard, he'd get them kicked out. He cannot refrain from dropping f-bombs in the most inappropriate ways.
I thought Pete looked fab - kind of badass. The vibe I got from the very, very civilian crowd was "Oh, we know that guy Roger" but they weren't necessarily sure about Pete. Roger was all warm and fuzzy, Pete was his usual menacing self. Quite enjoyable. He made a slightly snarky comment about the fact that they were playing a "jazz" festival. "In a little while, I will actually play some jazz and you will probably hate it." Funniest line of the night, according to me. I don't know what jazz he was referring to, however. After the aborted PoL (the crowd had no idea what it was), he said "Here’s a song you *will* know - and went into MG. Towards the end he was playing some Eddie Van Halen like-solo and all of a sudden completely stopped and said "What am I doing????" Kind of like - 'I don't usually play this kind of solo, do I?". It was cute.
The way I experienced this show was like I was also a civilian. I haven't seen them in what feels like quite a while, and noticed that I mostly wanted them to win the crowd over and I didn't care about AQO or whatever. This wasn't going to be that show. The crowd was totally into it. They really loved it - the rain ending had a nearly magical effect - everything was so much better all of a sudden. I felt like they really made the crowd very happy, and I felt happy for them. I didn't do the on the rail thing, and stayed back on the tarp we had put down, which added to my civilian-feeling experience.
It's a well-organized festival - I really appreciated that aspect of it. Surprisingly to me, one of my favorite performances was "I'm One'. I love the full-band version. I also really liked The Seeker and of course, Sparks.
Review by Mik TheWho Kenny
At the moment I have too many time constraints to do my Who experience yesterday justice. I wanted to see them play an American show on this tour and New Orleans exceeded all expectations. It was like going along to support your favorite team and they made your dreams come true and went home with the trophy. Great set list with a match fit band played all my favorites with maximum energy and a spectacular day on stage for Pete. He was unstoppable yesterday playing his guitar like the living legend that he is in our lives. To come all the way from Dublin Ireland to New Orleans to see my heroes and to grab a picture of Pete in flight is like winning the lottery. Now, off to catch the magic bus down to the festival site.
Review by Pat Stanton
The New Orleans show was a fabulous show. No videos or fancy lighting, just the band playing with passion and enthusiasm. It was an abbreviated show of 1 hour 45 minutes as there is a 7 pm curfew but they did the majority of their tour set list. Pete started Kids Are Alright only to learn it was off the list. A few minutes later he told the story about writing Pictures of Lily only to have Roger laughingly telling him that was also cut. He said f it and started singing it. Roger joined in for a bit of it and then Pete cut it off midway, with all of them laughing about the mess up. The crowds loved the show. I think that it was the best so far on the NA tour as it was all about the music.
Review by Suzanne Coker
My cousin drops the rest of us at a side entrance and goes off to park the car. We take chairs and blankets and a cooler and set up a base just in front of the line of speaker towers for the Acura stage. They know this ground well; the spot is a prime one, atop a slight rise so we can see over the crowd and any rainfall will drain off instead of washing us out. At least, in theory; they've always been lucky with weather before. My cousin catches up to us, everyone's pleased that we could capture this favored ground, and now it's time for fun.
The rest of the group heads out for Economy Hall and the New Leviathan Oriental Fox Trot Orchestra. I'll catch up. Take a look at the situation closer to the stage; there's a VIP area with a central walkway/entrance extending about twenty feet beyond the area itself, all tightly sealed with a rail. The corner where rail meets walkway on either side looks like the sweet spot for GA ticketholders like myself; the rail is already lined with tenacious folks who will probably stay there all day. Since I don't see any point camping out for a second row slot this far back, I make some mental notes of the terrain and walk around to get a sense of the rest of the place.
While wandering, I catch a little of Mr. Okra, "The last of the great New Orleans singing street vendors." He is indeed great, and presents nearly as many mysteries as he solves. I wondered what that produce truck was doing parked in the middle of the festival...
Nothing I care to buy for the prices asked, but I do notice a book tent, some interesting things in there, mostly New Orleans history. Don't want to lug them around all day, may just try to find them somewhere later. Eventually do catch up with part of our group in Economy Hall, hear the Fox Trot Orchestra's last song, and that's plenty for me. Head over to the Blues Tent to find the rest of the crew, listen to Terry Harmonica Bean, from Mississippi. Get a chance to talk with him for a minute or two after his set; he tells us of a few upcoming dates, then says "I'll be the first black man to play harmonica on the moon, if they pay me!" Good guy.
When the storm hits, we're safely under the Jazz Tent listening to Ellis Marsalis. The tent never threatens to collapse, though it does begin to flood at one point. Couple of drum solos that made me forget the weather. Lots of highly personal moments with total strangers. Worst of it has cleared up by the end of the set, so out into what's left to find something to eat; Crawfish Monica while walking, talk with a young cousin (once removed) who I've never met before, head over to one of the smaller stages for the Lost Bayou Ramblers. Really like these guys; we decide the best name for their sound is Cajun Fusion.
Head back to the big stage, with a stop for cousins to say hello to a friend working one of the daiquiri tents. Drop off my backpack, along with any sense of modesty or pride, at base, and start working my way toward the front as Dumpstaphunk winds down their set.
I end up in the sweet spot on Roger's side, within arm's reach of the GA rail, and there I stay. Forget myself for a minute and make a grab for the rail itself, but am brought back by a curt reminder: while I was in the jazz tent, these folks were standing in the rain to earn their place. Fair enough, and apologies for the greed. I'm the equivalent of about fifteen or sixteen rows back, and thanks to the slant of the ground, have a reasonably clear view of the stage. If I stand just right I can see Roger most of the time, Pete occasionally, and Simon, Frank, and Pino all the time. Not bad considering what I paid and when I showed up.
Crowd around me is happy for the most part, security is of the firm but kind variety. I play setlist prophet for a couple young dudes behind me, who are very impressed when I correctly "guess" that the first song will be Can't Explain. They really really want to hear Eminence Front, and their admiration grows when I tell them it's a 98% probability that it will show up about two thirds through the set, after Love Reign O'er Me. A cheap, dirty little thrill, but one I just can't resist. It's a festival crowd, after all, not so much gathering of the faithful as massive public display of the power of faith.
When the guys come onstage, Roger takes a deep breath and says, "Ah! Fresh air and pot!" There's been a lot of...ummm...fresh air around today, especially at Lost Bayou Ramblers.
Setlist very similar to Atlanta, but a bit shorter; no Quick One, and Squeeze Box instead of The Kids Are Alright. Pete started The Kids Are Alright anyway, prompting Roger to shrug and say, shit happens. But when he starts into Pictures of Lily...apparently he's looking at the wrong set list. Roger laughs and says that "sometimes the roadies get angry and play practical jokes." Makes more sense if you were in Atlanta for the guitar-swapping sequence, where Pete commented about "someone not reading the setlist." They played one verse of Lily, which didn't seem to be planned, then stopped; other than that, no major fuckups or variations, and not a lot of talk between songs.
Never seen them at a festival, outdoors during daylight, so can't really compare, but I'd say it was a solid show under the circumstances. Stage MC did a great job announcing them, gave a brief, succinct statement of their place in rock history then got out of the way. No background visuals; simply a placard with their name hand lettered, no different than Harmonica Bean or the Lost Bayou Ramblers. I found that refreshing.
A few moments I wouldn't have believed if I hadn't been there. During Bargain, I'd swear Pete said "one and one make everything." And despite, or maybe because, of the nature of the crowd, that lift-off moment during Join Together was incredibly intense. Roger pointed skyward, in a simple, private way, before starting Love Reign O'er Me, which was another fine rendition, perfect in both accuracy and soul.
Then....well, the sun chose a very opportune moment to come out from behind the clouds. See Me Feel Me. And it was very hot, despite the rain, so of course Roger had his shirt open. And the sun was on its way down, though still strong, so the rays were at just the perfect angle...let’s just say the mud wasn't the only thing reminiscent of Woodstock. So incredible nobody seemed to want to mention it out loud, and I wouldn't have entirely believed it even having seen it if the MC hadn't commented at the end: "did anyone else notice the timing on that?"
Maybe not a time machine, but as close to it as I will probably ever get.
Slogging my way around and up to rejoin with the crew, I could see by the trash just how far the crowd had extended. Tarps and blankets and shoes left behind, small children playing slide in the mud. Cousin did a good job parking, only a few blocks away, a pleasant walk through urban versions of those big coastal oaks, that particular combination of broken streets and buildings weathered, colors and architecture proclaiming New Orleans, and nowhere else.
On the drive and after, I'm not the only one who can't stop talking about it. One mentions how very iconic they are and he never thought he'd have a chance to see them. One says "can we go back and do it all over again?" And the unbiased, only slightly inebriated consensus opinion among the ladies of the group is that, although you can see his age if you're determined and know what to look for, Roger really does look much more like 51, and a well-kept 51 at that. Can't get over his...fitness, beauty, stamina. One says "they played every Who song you ever knew!" All alight with enthusiasm, replete with slow-burning joy.