The Who Newcastle Odeon 30th October 1971

The Who Newcastle Odeon 30th October 1971
thewhotix71Support from Quiver.
I was so excited about seeing the Who. They were at the height of their powers in the early ’70s and, along with the Stones and Zeppelin, were easily one of the greatest rock bands in the world, and they knew it. In fact, in many ways they were the best band in the world. Their performances, or at least the ones I witnessed, were consistently solid, and they had great pop tunes, and class rock tracks to draw from. As showmen and musicians they were all individually excellent. Pete Townshend was the angry young man, stomping around the stage, swinging his arm like a windwill, and I was always hoping to see him smash his guitar, as we had witnessed in the “Woodstock” and “Monterey Pop” films. Roger Daltrey was the ultimate front man; his mod style had developed into a full-on rockstar, with his suede fringed suit, throwing the mike out to the audience and immediately pulling it back to twirl around his head. John Entwistle was the solid, silent, excellent bassist with the deep voice that would emerge in “Boris The Spider” or “My Wife”. And Keith Moon, was the mad, hyper active kid, who would bash away at the drums, grin at the audience, and every now and then interject a few random jokes.
Tickets for concerts at Newcastle Odeon were sold at The Queens Theatre. I went through to buy tickets on the morning that they went on sale, only to find that the queue was absolutely massive, stretching around from the Queens, across the square where the city library now stands and right down the next street. I joined the queue but realised that I had little chance of scoring a ticket. The box office opened and people starting emerging with their tickets. One guy came down the queue with a few spare, offering to sell 50p tickets for £1. I bought one. It was a rear stall ticket, not a particularly good seat, but I was in 🙂 ! I was delighted and counted the days to the gig.
The Who began their short Autumn 1971 UK tour at the Free Trade Hall, Manchester, and concluded it at Greens Playhouse (The Apollo) in Glasgow, Scotland. They also played three nights at the Rainbow Theatre in Finsbury Park, North London, the first events taking place at the theatre under its new name (it was previously the Finsbury Park Astoria). The tour featured the first live performances of “Baba O’Riley” (played with a synthesizer backing tape as was “Won’t Get Fooled Again”) and the return of a “Tommy” section featuring “Overture”, “Amazing Journey”, “Sparks”, “Pinball Wizard” and “See Me, Feel Me”. “I Can’t Explain” and “Substitute” began regularly serving as the opening songs, where they remained for many tours after this one. Demand for tickets was incredible with extra nights being added at Glasgow where 6,000 people queued for 3,000 tickets.
thewhoprog71The Who had just released the classic “Who’s Next”. “Who’s Next” had started out as a follow up to Tommy: “Lifehouse”, which was to be a multi-media project symbolising the relationship between an artist and his audience. Townshend developed his new ideas for the concept in his home studio, using lots of synthesizer and a series of experimental concerts were booked for the Young Vic in London. These concerts were originally imagined as a grand concept where the audience themselves would somehow contribute to the music and the performance. However, the concept proved too complex to implement and it eventually became a much more straightforward rock album, drawing from the “Lifehouse” music, and was released as “Who’s Next” in August 1971, reaching No. 1 in the UK and the US. “Baba O’ Riley” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” were soon to become great live favourites.
I arrived at the Odeon in time to catch support band Quiver, who you could rely on to warm up the audience. The Who exploded on stage to a massive roar from the audience, and for 90 minutes or so, played a loud, incredible high energy performance. Those opening songs of “Can’t Explain” followed immediately with no time for breath with “Substitute” just can’t be bettered. Townshend commented on the “Baba O’Riley” backing tape, saying “We’ve been waiting for the day that we’d stop playing before the tape finished, and this was it!” “Magic Bus” included a lengthy jam, with mouth harp from Daltrey and much arm swirling by Townshend. “Won’t Get Fooled Again” had recently been in the charts and was a crowd favourite, and a personal highlight of the concert for me. Townshend closed by throwing his guitar in the air, letting it crash to the stage, but didn’t smash it, even though the audience, including me, were willing him to do so, and shouting “smash it, Pete!”.
An absolutely amazing gig, and for me the start of a journey with The Who which continues to this day.
Setlist: I Can’t Explain; Substitute; Summertime Blues; My Wife; Baba O’Riley; Bargain; Behind Blue Eyes; Won’t Get Fooled Again; Baby Don’t You Do It; Magic Bus; Overture; Amazing Journey; Sparks; Pinball Wizard; See Me, Feel Me.
Encore: This was normally My Generation; Naked Eye on this tour. However, published setlists suggest that these were not played at the Newcastle gig. My memory is patchy and I really can’t remember whether or not these two songs were played. I suspect they may have been, and that the setlist orginates from an audience recording which exists (you can find it YouTube) and which does not include the full set.
I reckon I’ve seen the Who 19 times, so this is going to take a couple of weeks. I have already blogged about some of those occasions, but there are lots still to cover. Tomorrow I’ll write about when the Who returned to the Newcastle Odeon two years later during the “Quadrophenia” tour.

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