Review by Sheva Golkow
Someone – it might have been Paul Morrissey – once described Woodstock as 500,000 assholes too stupid to come in out of the rain. I always liked that line, and it kept echoing in my head all last night because there we were, 8,500 of us, sitting on soaking wet seats, getting thoroughly drenched in the rain. But we weren’t assholes or idiots - we’re Who fans. And while some might say it’s a fine line there, we all went in knowing getting wet was a price we were willing to pay. (I suppose I could have said getting drowned for our favorite band? We call that a bargain - but I’d never be that trite or tacky…)
But what a night, what a show, and what a set list! No Seeker, no Miles, no Ball & Chain, no Tricky Day. Acid Queen is still in the Tommy suite, and we got: TKAA, Substitute, My Generation/Cry If You Want, Tattoo, Tea and Theatre. In a night of happy moments, hearing those songs were among my very happiest. They played excellent versions of each, with Roger alternating between artfully conserving his voice on less demanding songs, and going all in when needed. It’s really a joy hearing him, and seeing him enjoy the performance; lots of smiles and laughs throughout.
Loren’s keyboard improv before Love Reign O’er Me was particularly sweet, and Zak was a drumming monster. Simon, who gave us a short, lovely set as the opener, kept the energy up, providing plenty of guitar and vocals to complete and round out the sound.
Regarding completing the sound, the orchestra was brilliant - not a single misstep or bum note (as happened once or twice during last fall’s shows). Early on Pete identified them as the Edinburgh Philharmonic, then with a mischievous grin said “That’s not really their proper name, but I can’t say what that is”. At the end of the night he explained they are actually the Heart of England Philharmonic, prompting a few boos and catcalls from the audience to Pete’s delight.
Ah yes - Pete. This was a fantastic Townshend night - he was upbeat, chatty, and funny all evening. At one point he talked about how as they’re getting older, the audience is getting older, then laughed and said he’s the oldest, and gesturing towards us, said “You’re young, you’re all young…you’re not old, you’re just bald and fat”.
Later, as they prepared for Behind Blue Eyes and Pete fiddled with his chair, he said solemnly “You know, you would think someone of my stature - someone of my age, my stature, and my distinguishedness - wouldn’t have to move his own chair. You would think I’d have someone do it for me”. That got a big laugh, as Pete theatrically glared offstage, then immediately insisted no, he was joking.
Plenty of great guitar from him all night, and his vocals were wonderful, particularly Acid Queen and of course I’m One. Nice to see him so active, too, moving and dancing as much if not more than I’ve had the opportunity to see in a couple of years. Bouncing, strutting, doing his little two step, even jumping with Katie.
And as mentioned, they closed with a simply beautiful Tea and Theatre. It should have been the closer for all the US shows last year, but thank goodness we’re getting it now.
So rain be damned - it was a glorious shining night. Thanks to the band, the orchestra, and the fantastic Keith Levenson for an unforgettable night. And thanks Pete, for giving us all this brilliant music and timeless songs, and for being your magnificent, charming, beautiful self. After all these years, I still get excitement at your feet - even when the stage is too high for me to see them.
Review by Chris Elkins
The who stormed Edinburgh castle on Saturday night. The fans battled intermittent rain and were rewarded with a great concert. Highlights include the Acid Queen, the Kids Are Alright, Substitute, Tea and Theater and the ultimate crowd pleaser My Generation – great to see this back in the set list recently as it was missed. Roger was in fine voice and Pete did his share of windmills. At one point, Pete shouted out to “the lady in the green jumper” who had been dancing and singing all night. Pete asked her to share some of whatever she’s on. All in all another top notch show. Simon Townshend opened with an all too brief but highly entertaining set.
Review by Melissa and Gary Hurley
The venue was in the castle’s car park and has a temporary stage, raised terracing seating and floor seats. Capacity was seven thousand people and the show was sold out. The down fall of the show was the blinking rain. It rained, enough that even one was wearing a rain poncho. The crowd went crazy as The WHO hit the stage.
The orchestra set was Tommy. Roger and Pete were on fire. They both had smiles on their faces throughout the show. Pete played his guitar so vigorous, he was adding riffs that we haven’t heard or seen for many a year. Roger’s voice is amazing and getting stronger every gig. The overture with the orchestra brought it to a new level. The strings mix was really out front. Pinball Wizard created the usual madness from the punters. Pete sung the Acid Queen to perfection.
The set that most people wait for was The WHO without the orchestra. Tattoo was back in the set. Pete announced that this was the best show in years? Roger shucked his shoulders to Pete’s remarks.
The orchestra returns for the performance of Quadrophenia. People don’t realise that Simon Townshend plays the lead on the Rock. Simon was flawless. The two Townshend’s playing guitar in unison and smiling to each other was magical musical.
Pete originally introduced that the orchestra was the Edinburgh orchestra. He corrected himself later at the end that their name was The Heart of England Orchestra and got boos from the Scottish audience. They also had booed when the late Queen appeared on the video screen. They cheered when Moonie and The Ox appeared on the screen. Pete never remembers the name of the cellist Audrey Snyder instead he called her Horace. Funny haha as the real Horace was standing in front of him in the audience.?”
Written on an airplane, without glasses and exhausted. Two gigs in a row. We can’t imagine how Roger and Pete feel?
Review by Lauren J. Hammer
Great bonus to have Simon Townshend as the support act for both of the Edinburgh shows. He did a 35 min set. Setlist as follows:
Love Wasn't Enough
The Way It Is
Waste of Me
She Asked Me
Break the News (with interesting looping shaker and clapping)
I’m the Answer
Then he strapped on a 12-string electric Thunderbird, but he was told he was out of time.
As for The Who, overall, I’d say it was the strongest of the shows I’ve seen this run (counting Europe and UK in tandem).
Again, it was a shitty high stage set up, which seriously detracted from the show. Standing, I couldn’t see Billy or Emily or Loren or Audrey - AT ALL. I could see Jon’s face, but nothing else. I could occasionally see Zak’s sticks, but nothing else.
I could only see Roger, Pete, Simon, Katie, and Keith.
And on top of that, with the high stage setup, Scott (video guy) blocks our view even more than usual. And add to that, both Roger and Pete both have wedges in front of them on stage (Roger didn’t for quite a while). They’re bad enough at an arena, but here, with the shit angles, they HUGELY blocked the view. At least Pete doesn’t have the damn music stand (or even the iPad).
But that high stage + wedges was bloody awful - even worse than the Waldbuhne in Berlin. But the show, the show itself was really strong. Both Roger and Pete were ON.
While Amazing Journey/Sparks lacked it’s usual explosiveness, the overall Tommy set was the strongest of the three I’ve seen this round, and Acid Queen seems to be firmly established, defacto replacing Ball & Chain (Guantanamo).
Who Are You and Eminence Front were strong.
The band set was unusually good. No Seeker. No Miles. No Tricky Day. But Kids & Substitute & Tattoo, and My Gen w/ Cry if You Want.
I’m always super stoked to hear any of Cry, as it’s one of my favorite post Keith songs, but they still haven’t quite figured out how to do it. It remains a bit awkward. Tonight, Roger was just sort of singing random lines, hopping from verse to verse. I was able to track him and stay with it, but it was very oddly sequenced and the ending was, off.
Personally, I’d like Roger to start with the opening line and really sing it from there. And I would REALLY like him and Pete to incorporate a more plaintive call and response around the (You Can) Cry if You Want refrain. I think that would be really cool. As it is, they don’t do much with that bit, and when they do, it’s not terribly intimate and vulnerable, but rather kind of hard.
After My Gen/Cry, they went into WGFA, and while that’s mostly bored the crap out of me since John died, this very well may have been the best post John performance of it I’ve seen over the now 20+ years of shows. GREAT energy from both the band and the audience.
And while a friend of mine back in Row O was not impressed with the Night One Edinburgh audience, I was. It was mostly a casual audience, only coming alive during the better known songs, but when they did engage, it was really good.
The Quad segment was strong as it always is, with an audible reaction (to me) to the John segment (albeit not Keith) and a significant response to the closing segment about the death of the Queen. I found that touching.
Oh, and it was raining on and off throughout the night. The band was covered, but we weren’t. It was rough, but it was never a downpour, so if you had a poncho, it was tolerable.
At one point Pete told us we should get 1/2 our money back. Which half? Roger’s half! Personally, I wouldn’t demand my money back for the rain, but I sure as hell would for the high stage and only getting to see 1/2 of the band and almost none of the orchestra.
Fun fact: it seems that they actually have a single orchestra touring with them for the UK leg of shows - The Heart of England Orchestra (who Pete mis-introduced as being from Edinburgh).
Oh, and when doing the band intros, Pete spaced out on Audrey’s name, instead name checking Horace, who was trying to tell him Audrey’s name! LOL
I’m sure I’ll think of more things later but here you go!
It was a great first night, and had me excited for Night Two.
Review by Pat Stanton
The Saturday July 8th Who concert was very entertaining in spite of the rainy conditions for the first 75 minutes of the show.
Simon Townshend opened for the band. He sounded fine but was a bit disorganized, delaying the start of many of his songs. He still sounded good. Sunday should be better.
The stage is smaller than normal and is quite crowded with the orchestra. Roger has a very tight space to roam. He tripped badly once and nearly a second time. He avoided the front of the stage until the rain stopped.
The show started with the Tommy set, now augmented with Pete performing Acid Queen. Perhaps it is a tribute to Tina Turner, who performed it fabulously in the movie.
There was no chatting until after the Tommy set, and then Pete was chatty, happy and sarcastic for the rest of the show.
Pete joked that rain is considered a blessing in India, probably because they don't get that much rain. He commended us for standing all bundled up in the rain, laughing that at least they had a roof over their heads to keep them dry. He thanked us for spending our hard earned money to come out to see them, commenting that the fans continue to get older as they do but that he and Roger are still older than everyone else. He then apologized for the fabulous and wonderful lives that they had because of the fan support.
The middle, band only, section was a pleasure as they sang oldies like Kids Are Alright, Substitute, Tatoo and My Generation. YBYB was still there as was acoustic Behind Blue Eyes and of course WGFA.
The instrumental performers all sit on chairs for BBE. Roger ran to sit in one that is designated for Katie, laughing that he will be needing one soon to perform.
Pete kept shifting his chair before BBE began, saying he thought someone of his dignified stature should have someone around to adjust his chair. In jest of course.
Between songs, Pete mused about all the people who have passed away, kidding that the Who should be called Who's Left. He also told us that he really misses single malt liquor more than any other alcoholic beverage. But that he would shock everyone by drinking a coffee mid show.
The Quad set followed. Pete was excited to have the orchestra perform his masterpiece. The Real Me was followed by I'm One, which I was thrilled that Roger played harmonica to accompany Pete. It is so much richer with his harmonica playing.
For 5:15, Roger missed the original cue on "Girls of 16", which the audience sang. He continued to cue the audience to sing his part through that entire section, picking up his part with "magically bored". Great song.
The Rock was strong although I am not a big fan of the updated video. Too political for me.
Roger sang beautifully all night but his ultimate is still Love Reign. Incredible. Hopefully he will survive the back to back shows as there is a second show on Sunday.
The band intros were not particularly original but Pete did get the Edinburgh audience riled up by announcing the name of the orchestra as the Heart of England. Baba closed the main show with a solid performance by Katie Jacoby.
After Baba, Roger and Pete stayed on stage and performed the lovely Tea and Theatre which I haven't heard since the 2013 Quad tour. Beautiful ending.
Pete complimented the audience as being one of the best in years. It was good but the Rod Stewart concerts were much more enthusiastic.
All in all, an entertaining show in a less than condusive venue.