Review by Carrie Pratt
After a year and a half of anticipation, and closely following The Who tour by producing all the concert pages on petetownshend.net, the day finally arrived when I could see them perform here in the Pacific Northwest. If I could have my pick of shows to start with, the one in Vancouver would certainly top the list. The Who gave a solid, powerful performance, and what a joy for me to watch the whole thing from the rail about 10 feet from Pete! Backstage after the Seattle show, musical director Frank Vimes told me that he thought the Vancouver and Seattle shows were the best of the whole tour! Of course I felt that already, but it was nice to hear that from someone who should know.
The Who festivities began with a fairly long soundcheck, where we were treated to run throughs of a variety of songs, including a couple that had not yet been played this tour: Acid Queen and bits of Relay. Acid Queen made it into the set that night, but Relay with it’s complex rhythmic backing tracks was not quite ready for prime time – yet. It was fascinating watching them work in this setting. I couldn’t help thinking though, that having an audience observe them like this felt a little bit intrusive. I know the importance of soundchecks, which is a time to set the sound levels, work out parts of songs, rehearse new tunes and do a brief warmup. While the VIP members were instructed to not take photos or videos, they were not told to keep the talking to a minimum, and as a result, many people there were talking fairly loudly throughout and at times even shouting to the band, which I found to be a bit rude and disrespectful, both to the other VIP members trying to listen, but especially to the band who are actually trying to concentrate on their work. I guess it’s no wonder that The Who have decided to drop the VIP soundcheck for this summers European shows, which is really a shame. Other than that, it was super fun to go to, and we had a great time chatting to our friends at the VIP party after the soundcheck.
The opening act were The Slydigs, who had a great 60’s look and vibe that fit in very well with The Who. They did a good job warming up the audience, and I think they got a good reception. I took advantage of the time to practice my camera settings, which are always a bit tricky to get right at concerts, since I have just a tiny point and shoot. I landed on something that seemed to work well, and managed to get some really good shots of them.
Then the big moment finally arrived when The Who took the stage, and Pete walked up to his mic just a few feet away from me. It was a very good seat, as the huge camera that tracked across the front row stopped just before my sight angle of Pete, giving me a fairly unobstructed view of him throughout the show. I can’t say the same for my view of Roger though, or really the rest of the band, who were blocked by the camera a fair amount of the time. But since Pete was my main focus, I was very happy with the seats! The sound was really awesome too. Nice and clear, and not too loud.
After opening up with the classic Who Are You, Roger told the citizens of Vancouver “You are lucky fuckers to live in a city like this!” How right he is! Pete announced after the Seeker that they would be doing a couple extra songs this show, so not as much talking. They proceeded to power through hit after hit, barely pausing to take a breath! It was amazing to watch this amount of energy eminating from a stage, and the crowd just drew on it and projected it right back at them.
While I missed the stage banter, which has always been a favorite part of Who shows for me, this was an interesting experiment, and I really thought it helped elevate the energy level throughout the evening, since there were no pauses to slow things down. By the time they got through the Tommy medley, including the new addition of Acid Queen which hasn’t been performed by the full band since 1989, Pete gave out a little exhale of relief and looked slightly exhausted for a moment.
He quickly got back his second wind though, and hammered the rest of the songs home, never letting up on the aggression until the very end for the band introductions. I always love the banter at the end, and Pete had some really funny comments, including a play on Loren Gold’s name, phrasing it to go up when he said Gold, as he predicted gold commodities would be going up. A little financial tip for us.
For men of any age, let alone in their 70’s, Pete and Roger really lay it all out there for us every night. The crowd was totally into it all night long, and I think we were all exhausted by the end, but in a very good way! It was an absolute joy to watch, and I think the set list worked very well to cover their extensive catalog of hits. I’m sure everyone went home extremely happy that night! To top off the night, Pete looked at my husband Tom and I and gave us a little wave before he left the stage.
After the show, we were treated to backstage passes. Simon stopped by and chatted to us for a while, and we briefly saw Loren Gold too. A perfect ending to a delightful evening!
Review by Pat Stanton
The show last night in Vancouver had a full set list of 22 songs if you consider Amazing Journey/Sparks and See Me Feel Me/Listening to You each one song as Acid Queen was added to the Calgary set list.
The band sounded fine and the music rocked but the tempo was rushed, moving immediately from song to song with no chatting or stories. Unlike the 2012/13 Quad shows where the songs in the Quadrophenia portion flowed from song to song naturally so no interaction was needed, the intimacy of prior shows when Pete and Roger shared memories with the audience was missing last night.
Pete announced in sound check that they were not singing Squeeze Box. I enjoy the song but I wish they had eliminated it as that 5 minutes could have been spent chatting. Pete actually stated in the beginning that they would not be chatting as they were doing lots of songs and Roger jokingly put his hand over his mouth in agreement.
Acid Queen was added after Sparks but it didn't flow as he needed to change guitars. It was a welcome addition and Pete sounded great, with Roger adding emphasis on tambourines and a bit of singing in the chorus.
The rushed pace took its toll on Roger who looked exhausted by the end of WGFA. His voice was strong throughout and he again led the audience in our group karaoke during the show.
The swinging microphone was very animated in the second half, coming a bit close to Pete a couple of times when Pete changed where he normally lands during a song. Fortunately Roger can pull it back and control the trajectory.
The band practiced Relay in sound check. I thought it sounded jumbled and they were not happy with it. We may hear it in future shows after some additional rehearsals.
One moment of levity was when Pete demanded a restart of I'm One as he wanted it to start when he was ready. He looked at the audience and told us they didn't know who I am. Funny.
Pete also was amusing in his introduction of Loren Gold, saying his voice always drops down when he says " Gold". As he thinks hold prices will be going up, he insisted on repeating the intro with the word "Gold" ending up. A little investment advice that was a bit of a stretch but funny.
There were smokers in the audience all night, mostly marijuana. It bothered Roger a bit, especially in Love Reign. I thought he sounded wonderful in it but after it was over he grimaced a little and said "smoke". Selfish fans.
Lots of great pictures. This was the last Canadian show. I have loved my time in each city and enjoyed meeting many local Canadian Who fans. Next stop Seattle.
Soundcheck Review by Lauren from Boulder
The whole band was already on stage when we came in.
Seated in row 11. Very civilized (for soundcheck, anyway).
Full Who Are You
Pete: "We're not going to play Squeeze Box."
Crowd - cheers!!! (Which I just LOVED. LOL)
Miles vocal check
Then, about 1/2 of Miles with full band
Couple of verses of I'm One
Pete thought it was too fast
After the instrumental intro, Pete stopped the song, saying his guitar is flat. No tantrum. Just an issue to be addressed. Nice.
Waiting around for Alan to tune. Restarted.
After run through, Pete comments about strings needing to be stretched.
Then Alan brings out music stand w/ charts. I get excited. Something that needs charts. THAT'S a good sign!
Nope. Let down.
Just chords for The Rock, played in its entirety.
Pete to Zak
"That's the best worst drum solo I've seen."
Song sequence talk and guitar switching talk, about slotting in Acid Queen.
Work on transition from Amazing Journey/Sparks into
Full Acid Queen
Work on transition from AQ to opening PW riff
Stopped after intro. Pete says backing track too quiet
They play a bit but stop because Zak can't hear click track
1/2 way through. Pete stops. Backing track still too quiet.
From the beginning again.
Very cool. In addition to the regular stuff, we got lots of Acid Queen and Relay. Nice.