The Who Edinburgh Odeon 9th June 1979
The Who decided to continue after the loss of Keith Moon. Townshend: “We are more determined than ever to carry on, and we want the spirit of the group to which Keith contributed so much to go on, although no human being can ever take his place.
Kenney Jones, of the Small Faces and the Faces, joined the band on drums in late 1978. Around the same time John “Rabbit” Bundrick (ex Free) joined the live band as an unofficial keyboardist. On 2nd May 1979, the Who returned to the concert stage with a “secret” concert at the Rainbow Theatre. The concert was announced at a few days notice, with fans queuing outside the venue for tickets. One of my mates managed to get a ticket, through a friend who was studying at University in London, and he came back with tales of how great they were. A few weeks later they announced a couple of Scottish gigs; one at the Glasgow Apollo on a Friday night, and a show at Edinburgh Odeon on the Saturday night. The shows were announced in the local press, and both concerts sold out immediately. I talked about it with my mates, Will and Norm, and we decided to go up to Edinburgh in the hope of somehow getting in.
On the day of the gig we drove up Edinburgh early, arriving in the late afternoon. We hung around in the pubs near the Odeon, and outside the venue, asking any likely looking candidate if they had any tickets to sell. We managed to buy two seats together in row F, six rows back from the stage 🙂 , and a third single ticket a little further back in the stalls. I can’t remember what we paid, I think it was around £7 or £8 for each ticket, which had a face value of £5. I recall that it seemed a lot at the time, but was well worth it, and seems cheap today. There was no support act.
The Who came on stage, and the first thing I noticed was Roger’s very short hair, and how fit he looked. They launched straight into a deafening, and amazing, “Substitute” followed by “I Can’t Explain”. Townshend was on fire, his arm twirling away as usual, and Roger was swinging the mike around and around. Just like old times. The Who were awesome that night. Of course, things weren’t the same with no Keith grinning at the back like a cheeky, naughty schoolboy, and no banter between him and Pete. But musically they seemed as good as ever. The small venue (probably 2,500 capacity), our proximity to the action, and the incredible VOLUME, all helped. The crowd went 110% mental, shouting and roaring throughout the night. I bought a t-shirt with the classic “Who Maximum R’n’B” image and the words “The Who Scotland 1979”. I wish I still had it.
Ni Holmes, on the Who tour site, recalls: “Townshend walking across the stage, clearly upset at the keyboard playing on Won’t Get Fooled Again and swinging a punch at Rabbit” which I can’t say I remember at all. John Gardner (also from the Who tour site) recalls: “a rather annoying small part of the audience….kept chanting ‘Bring back Moonie'”, which prompted Townshend to respond: “F**k off Edinburgh you’re too quiet for The Who”.
The Who were back. And they were on fire. Happy happy days 🙂
Setlist: Substitute; I Can’t Explain; Baba O’Riley; The Punk And The Godfather; Boris The Spider; Sister Disco; Behind Blue Eyes; Music Must Change; Pinball Wizard; See Me Feel Me; Long Live Rock; Dreaming From The Waist; Who Are You; My Generation/My Generation Blues; Magic Bus; Won’t Get Fooled Again
Encore: The Real Me; Summertime Blues
PS Whenever I drive into Edinburgh from the south I pass the old Odeon building; sadly it is now closed, run down and very dilapidated.