Simon Townshend She Asked Me
Simon Townshend Break the News
Pete introduces show
Overture (walking into the gig showing the Eden Project grounds)
Acid Queen / Pinball Wizard / We’re Not Gonna Take It
The Real Me
Band intro Baba
Review by Matthew North
Its been a while since I have seen the Who, actually it was 2017, making it the longest period of time since seeing The Who. Having seen the band over 20 times since 2004.
The idea of my favourite band playing an almost doorstep venue to where I live was too good to be true. Myself and my dear friend and gig buddy Caroline got to the venue at 2pm and were front of the queue. We had to be on the front rail dead centre. After all you never know if seeing your favourite band would be the last time or not, being that it was the last date of the tour as well. It was interesting this show was tacked on to the end of the tour but you could see why. The Eden Project is a stunning venue for a gig and a pro film crew were there to shoot it. This would make a great piece of TV or Blu-ray and make no mistake.
At just after 6pm (as Simon was still in soundcheck) we were let in and made our way to where we wanted to be.
The stage was interesting, normally there is some massive displays on stage but not tonight. It was more like an opera house backdrop. All the seats and a lot of equipment were covered in black, I guess to not stick out on the film. Around 7.20, 10 minute before advertised, Simon Townshend came on stage to do his set.
Now I am a great fan of Simon, I have seen his band The Casbah Club as well as his excellent solo band. Today though was his first Solo set that I had seen. I was not 100% sure of the track titles. The opening number was a good little song where he sang and played guitar, but the second song is when things got more interesting. If its not the title than some of the lyrics went ‘Show me the sun’ and Simon was playing guitar as well as looping shaky egg, hand claps and keyboards. It sounded really great. Then Simon played ‘She Asked Me’, the song he recorded With Eddie Vedder. After another song that I think was called ‘The Way It Is’, Simon played ‘Breaking the News’ the excellent tune that he wrote for the last Who album. He did have a bit of trouble with his looping but 3rd time lucky he made a success and the audience went with him. After this came the very poignant song Low. The last song of this brief half hour set I think was called ‘When the Moment Calls’ but I’m not sure. This was another great looping song, and playing his electric 12 string to boot. The set ended with a lot of applause and a happy Simon and audience. Lets hope that Simon goes on tour in his own right soon.
Now the changeover time was actually pretty quick and The Who went on ahead of time. I think this was also because Pete was on a strict schedule as he mentioned at the gig that he had to get back to London on a Helicopter.
The orchestra came on first and tune up, and then The Who followed.
The Who start with a truncated Tommy set. From the first note it was going to be a special show. Tommy for me is my favourite Who album and the last time I saw Tommy it was a magical experience.
In the Tommy Set the The Heart of England Philharmonic Orchestra really shine from the off. We get the Overture which I always love to hear, then Captain Walker / 1921 again sounds every bit as good as it ever did. When I started to see the Who a lot Amazing Journey / Sparks segment was always exciting and it still is, Roger always looks menacing with 2 tambourines! During Amazing Journey Pete has a guitar change, I’m guessing a string popped but didn’t actually see! Pete then sings Acid Queen before some of the audience goes nuts to Pinball Wizard. The all too short Tommy segment ends with Were not gonna take it / Listening to you. I always feel Listening to you should be at the end of a who show. Its the ultimate finale but hey it’s the Who they can do what they like. I’m just so glad that I am here.
After the orchestra is introduced, 2 more songs with them before they go on a break, Who are you and Eminence Front. Pete mentions Roger does a great version of his song, but Pete takes the lead Vocals with Roger on guitar. Actually this show I have seen Roger play more electric guitar than I have ever seen before, normally he plays his brown acoustic. Roger does rock a Telecaster though. With just the main band its a set of hits starting with The Kids Are Alright, and You Better You Bet comes after, The Whos return to form anthem followed, who doesn’t love this song?
Pete swaps to a Rickenbacker 12 String that he is not best happy with. He said ‘I feel I want to smash up a guitar’ still manages to play Anyway, Anyhow Anywhere, but at the end he says that he wants his guitar tech (whom did great soundcheck performance earlier in the day) to never hand him that guitar again! After another guitar swap Substitute, another stone cold classic that should always be in a Who set. Pete then has another guitar swap, this time to a black Strat with P90s for those that care and it’s I can’t Explain, again a song that oozes excitement as it does once again. This is the thing with a band like the who, nearly 60 years in the game and they just deliver the goods. My Generation, Jon Button gets the spotlight on his Bass solo and then the band go into a nice long improvised section that goes into Cry if You Want To, Roger is almost rapping at some points. I love The Who when they improvise, just too bad My Generation didn’t segway into Naked Eye, that would have been the dream for me.
There is a section of the audience shouting the ‘We are the mods’ Roger quickly quips ‘ The Mods were way too cool to come out with all that rubbish, If you were a football team you would be out of the league’! Pete then spots people in Hi vis and makes a joke about the yellow jackets!
Back to the show, Katie Jacoby on Violin and Audrey Q. Snyder join the band for a sit down version of Behind Blue Eyes, before the orchestra return for the Quadropheania Material.
The Real Me hits the spot as it always does, but the orchestra takes it to a new place, in total contrast it slows down as Pete sings his final number of the night with I’m One. Dropping a pick as he goes, but soon recovers! We then rock out again with 5:15 before going into what I call the Overture, now I am not sure if we called it ‘Quadrophenia’ or ‘The Rock’ but its the mash up of different themes from the album. Pete and Simon do some lovely harmony guitar playing on this section, again this is something I have never seen before at a Who show The pianist Loren Gold played an outstanding solo joining this piece to Love Reign O’er me. For me this was one of the highlights of the show.
With the main show now finished the band do just one more number and its the last big one to play Baba O’Riley and Katie takes to the stage to deliver a fine solo with the band.
All that is left it 6,500 people cheering and the band saying their thank you. Pete makes a shout out for a very special local charity ‘Livewire’ whom Pete has been supporting for a number of years. Roger then thanks the road crew and ends the night with ‘Be Lucky’
Who knows what the future holds, if this ends up being the last time I see The Who then it will be on a massive high. They have spent 60 years more or less playing their hearts out. In recent times they have delivered 2 really great albums and for me over 20 amazing live shows. Thank you Pete, Roger and Zak and everyone else that has been in The Who band since I first saw them in 2004. Special note also goes to Jon Button whom is the dependable Bass player at all times, and Simon whom is everyone's wingman.
Review by Melissa and Gary Hurley
The Eden project is a massive site which was an old clay quarry back in its day. It houses two large biosphere enclosures. The smaller one is the Mediterranean enclosure that has thousands of plants from the Med. The larger biosphere is the rain forest which covers the Amazon, Plants from South Africa, California. etc. It was very steamy and the exotic plants are breathtaking. In the centre of the biosphere was a little white shed that was called the cold room. It had air con and seating and cold water. The downside is that it’s not disabled friendly. Even the disabled car park is a trek. They do offer wheelchairs.
The venue that the concert was placed was dab in the middle of the Eden Project. They let the punters in at six o’clock and it was GA.
So many of them went to the back to sit on the grass. The front rail was not jammed at all. There were not any projections at this gig and it was the first that Scott the camera man sat in a seat to the right of Pete filming the show, and not blocking our view. Sorry Scott! There was approximately 7000 people in the door inclusive of the working staff. It was only the second gig on this tour it didn’t rain on this U.K. leg!
Gary spoke to the leader of the the Heart of England orchestra and four musicians whilst behind the stage catching some rays. There are 33 musicians in the orchestra that have been playing with The WHO throughout the U.K. shows. They just got better with every show. They got bussed home almost after every show except the two Edinburgh Castle shows, so they had home comfort.
Simon Townshend was the support for The WHO. He was trying out some new equipment to do some looping. It took several attempts but he got there. He also had an Akai little keyboard that he played simultaneously with the looping and guitar. His voice was strong. He really needs to do more solo shows in the U.K.
The Who and orchestra came on the stage very casually. Pete sported a pair of trainers and white trousers. Roger was in his white shirt and for the first time Zak didn’t look like a banana. He was wearing Green to support the Eden project and help awareness for protecting our Earth.
They started with the seven tracks from Tommy. Roger was so in his element. Pete played some wicked notes that made us think of years from the past. See Me Feel me was magical almost like a prayer as said by Mr T. Followed by WRU and Eminence Front. Pete added whilst singing about the yellow vests crowd control people. There was absolutely no problem with them at this gig. We had issues with them at other gigs.
Once again it felt like the old WHO from old with more Musos with them this time. The band set was up to nine songs. It was probably the most fun at this point during the show. It’s relaxed and sincere from the band and audience. Pete played that stunning Rickenbacker on AAA. He said he had the urge to smash a guitar at this gig. He than quickly gave the Rick back to Simon his guitar tech. He said this maybe the last time he will use it on stage. Most of the switches don’t work anyway. What a shame. Maybe we will be blessed next time with a Gibson SG.
The orchestra came back for the Quadrophenia set. During 5:15 guitar Pete played to the front of the audience and was really playing with ferociously, as there were no screens or cameras and he was showing off. Just wonderful having the real Pete the showman back. Roger looked up to sky to remember John and Keith.
Roger’s scream both in WGFA and Love Reign O’er Me was amazing and the sound crew put the dials to eleven as the screams bellowed throughout the Eden Project. Spectacular!!!
The Quad set went without any flaws. The orchestra gives the songs such depths. During the Rock, Pete and Simon played in unison and stood together with such love and respect for each other. Betty and Cliff must be smiling from above that their three son’s are so talented.
Pete starts the introductions of the musicians on stage. He thanked Simon for being the opening act. He mentioned he has lots of friends in Cornwall. Unfortunately, he has a helicopter waiting for him to take him back to London and he was sorry. Roger said to us he has no friends in Cornwall! He has us! He grinned and smiled.
The evening closed with Baba O’Riley and everyone was on their feet. Even, The WHO crew were side stage taking photos of the band and themselves. Even Binky was smiling very ear to ear!
It felt like the end of another era for the band, but we are sure that this is just the beginning of something very special for The WHO.