The Who Newcastle Arena 9th Dec 2014

The Who Newcastle Arena 9th Dec 2014
Support from local heroes Maximo Park
whoprogWhat can I say! The Who returned to Newcastle as part of “The Who Hits 50 tour!” with a set jam-packed with classic songs drawn from across their amazing entire catalogue. I went along with my mate Norm to see the rock legends, and we were both really looking forward to the gig. They didn’t let us down, and then some. This was the 19th occasion on which I have seen the Who in concert, the first being at Newcastle Odeon in 1971. I knew that the concert would be good, but was surprised just how excellent the band were last night. Support came from local band Maximo Park who warmed the crowd up with a short set. The arena was pretty full, although not sold out. The Who started their set shortly after 8.30pm, sauntering on to the stage, Roger holding his cup of tea. “Go For It Pete” a voice from the front shouted. Townshend explained that these days his actions are limited to windmill arm swinging, a little jigging (he demonstrated both) and insulting the front row (which he admitted to gaining great enjoyment from). Then the familiar chords of “I Can’t Explain” rang through the arena and The Who were off, in full swing, taking us right back to where it all started. This was followed swiftly by “Substitute”; two classic slabs of 60s pop/rock, which they always opened their set with during the 70s. Roger’s voice was strong and solid, and the mike saw lots of twirling throughout the evening. Next up was “The Seeker”, not often played live, followed by “Who Are You” and “The Kids Are Alright”, with Roger on acoustic guitar; those great harmonies always get me. Pete explained how he wrote great pop songs like “The Kids Are Alright” (also mentioning “Legal Matter” in the same context) in his small attic studio in London in the 60s, usually in connection with stories about his latest girlfriend. He went on to tell us how he then moved into “artrock”, as way of introducing “I Can See for Miles”. Classic. One of their best songs, and a pure gem from the 60s. Pete was very animated throughout the concert and talked to the crowd a lot. He joked about “Pictures of Lily” and explained that “Cry If You Want” (can’t say I remember that one) was covered by the Merseys (and Bowie? I think). Next was “Behind Blue Eyes” with Roger in fine voice, followed by “You Better You Bet”. Then, with one of the band on mouth harp and another on jaw’s harp, we were in the 70s and “Join Together”. Roger made reference to their last tour, which was “Quadrophenia”, as and introduction to a short segment from that album: “I’m One”; “5:15”; “Bell Boy” (with video footage of Keith Moon playing the bellboy part, his grinning face staring at us from giant screens behind the band) and “Love, Reign O’er Me”. John Entwistle also featured, in a great close-up video of an extended bass solo, the screen showing his fingers speeding up and down the neck of his guitar. whotix2014The crowd gave the videos of the late great Moon and Entwistle massive cheers. Townshend was really on fire by now, thumping his guitar, and windwill arm twirling, again and again and again. His temper also flared at one point; something obviously wasn’t right with his guitar so he threw, slamming it flat face down onto the floor. He continued to sing without a guitar, until a guy quickly arrived with a replacement. “Eminence Front” from “It’s Hard” brought us into the 80s. Then Pete introduced “A Quick One (While He’s Away)”, explaining that his first mini opera was written quickly to fill up space on an album, and was his initial attempt at a long themed piece of music. He went on to tell us that it features in the Stones Rock’n’Roll circus film, and that we should watch it if we haven’t yet seen it. I’ve always liked this track, and enjoyed seeing them play it live, I don’t think they have played it on tour since 1970 or so. A “Tommy’ segment followed: “Amazing Journey”; “Sparks”; “Pinball Wizard”. Pete’s hand was bleeding badly by now, his twirling and chord smashing had resulted in him cutting a finger; there was blood all over the scratch plate of his Fender Strat. The set closed with “See Me, Feel Me”; “Baba O’Riley”; and the anthemic “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. For the encore, they played “Magic Bus”, finishing at 11pm. A 2 and a half hour set from classic rock band who were simply on fire; it was one of the best performances I have seen from them in many years. A long set, but never boring; it went over so quickly. Pure class.

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