The Who Charlton Athletic Football Club 18th May 1974

The Who Charlton Athletic Football Club 18th May 1974
whotix74Support Acts, in order of appearance: Montrose, Lindisfarne, Bad Company, Lou Reed, Humble Pie, Maggie Bell. The support acts were chosen by The Who.
The Who spent some time considering venues for a big outdoor London concert, and selected Charlton ground because, accordingly to Townshend, it had “particular acoustic qualities” and offered “excellent views of the stage from the terraces.” I went to the gig with two mates, travelling down to London by coach, leaving the north east at midnight on Friday night and arriving early on Saturday morning. We then caught the local train across to Charlton. By the time we arrived the ground was pretty full, and fans continued to flood in throughout the morning. By the time Montrose exploded onto the stage at 12 noon, the place was ram packed. The concert was intended to have an attendance limit of 50,000 fans, but breakdowns in security resulted in many additional people getting in, and an estimated crowd of 80,000 (The Complete Chronicle of the Who 1958-1978, Neill & Kent, 2007). I ran into quite a few mates from home on the terraces, several of whom had managed to push or blag their way in without paying. The supporting bill was very strong, with Montrose and Bad Company both going down well. This was one of the first appearances of the new Lindisfarne Mk II line-up. Lou Reed and Maggie Bell both played ok, but didn’t go down as well with the crowd as the others. Humble Pie were pure class, with Marriott on his top OTT “my skin is white, but my soul is black” form. They almost upstaged the main act. There was a long wait before The Who took to the stage, and several reports recall an atmosphere of violence, which I must say I don’t remember. I do remember that it was a very hot day and that there were some fights, a heavy smell of dope with many people openly smoking joints, and lots of cans thrown around throughout the day. Brian Farnon writes of a “lunatic…wandering around with a foot-long spike….sticking it in peoples necks” on the excellent ukrockfestivals.com site.
The Who started at 8:45 and played an hour and 45 minute set, starting with “Can’t Explain” and working their way through old classics and some more recent material, including a few from their most recent album “Quadrophenia”. The sound wasn’t that great, even though we had been promised quadrophonic sound, and there were large PA speakers sited around the ground. The Who were excellent, although Pete later admitted that he was drunk and felt that the show wasn’t actually one of their best. To all of us in the crowd it was a great day, and an opportunity to see the best rock band in the world during their prime period. The set included a lot of 60s material, and several songs that I hadn’t seen them play before such as “I’m a Boy” and “Tattoo”. Entwistle performed “Boris the Spider” in his deep bass voice. A lengthy encore included “5:15”, an extended “Magic Bus”, “My Generation”, “Naked Eye”, “Let’s See Action” and the first ever performance of their slow 12-bar blues arrangement of “My Generation”, which is now known as “My Generation Blues”. Pete didn’t smash his guitar.
who74progCharles Shaar Murray reviewed The Who’s performance in NME: “They performed with a freshness and enthusiasm that they haven’t had for quite some time, and generally acted like the epitome of what a rock and roll band should be…The Who are it; as good as it ever gets, and good as we can expect from anybody.”
Pete Townshend admitted (also in the NME): “At Charlton I got completely pissed… I was so happy to get out of it…. I felt really guilty I couldn’t explode into the exuberant and happy energy our fans did….”
When the concert finished it was absolute pandemonium trying to get out through the crowd, and a number of us decided to try and climb over one of the fences. We managed to get over, but one of my mates cut his hand quite badly on the sharp metal top of the fence. It looked quite nasty, and was bleeding a lot, so we decided that we needed to get to a hospital. We pushed our way back into the ground, which wasn’t easy as we were walking against all the people leaving, and made our way to the St Johns Ambulance post, where we all bundled into an ambulance. A poor guy with a pretty cut up face, who had fallen onto a broken bottle, was lying next to us in the ambulance. The ambulance sped through the crowds and 5 minutes or so later we were in the hospital, where we spent most of the night, while my mate had his hand stitched. The hospital was full of fans suffering from injuries, and worse for wear from alcohol and drugs. It was daylight by the time we got out of the hospital, and we walked back into central London and made our way to Victoria where we caught our bus home. The things you do for rock’n’roll 🙂
The Who setlist: I Can’t Explain; Summertime Blues; Young Man Blues; Baba O’Riley; Behind Blue Eyes; Substitute; I’m a Boy; Tattoo; Boris the Spider; Drowned; Bell Boy; Doctor Jimmy; Won’t Get Fooled Again; Pinball Wizard; See Me, Feel Me
Encore: 5:15; Magic Bus; My Generation; Naked Eye; Let’s See Action; My Generation Blues

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Robert Keen on August 3, 2016 at 8:53 pm

    I was there and there was no encore. The Who never did encores at that time

    Reply

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