The Who Wembley Arena 13th Feb 2016
Last night The Who returned to their home turf to play a one-off gig at Wembley Arena. Roger Daltrey has been suffering from viral meningitis, which resulted in the postponement of the last leg of their American Tour, and this gig was slotted in by way of a warm-up before the band returns to the USA to play the rearranged dates. I’m pleased to report that Roger looks and sounds well, although he did tell us that he wasn’t 100% and that his “legs weren’t fully there”. Well it didn’t show. This was another classic Who performance, easily on par with, if not surpassing, their Hyde Park show last Summer. A sold-out crowd of locals and die-hard Who fans from across Europe gave the band the rousing London welcome they deserve. The Who Hits 50! Tour is a celebration of the amazing legacy of a legendary band who have given us so much over the years. This was my 21st (I think) Who live experience, and the third time I’ve seen them on the current tour, having caught the first leg of the tour at Newcastle Arena in late 2014 and the Hyde Park gig last summer. The set is largely the same, although it has become slightly shorter with openers “I Can’t Explain” and “Substitute” being dropped, as has their early attempt at a mini opera “A Quick One (While He’s Away)”. Last night we were treated to the inclusion of the instrumental “The Rock” as part of a trio of songs from “Quadrophenia”.
The evening started with a slide show which took us through the history of the band, and featured many great images of the late Keith Moon and John Entwistle. This tour is a celebration of their legacy and contribution, as well as a run through of some of the Who’s greatest songs. The band walked on stage and launched straight into “Who Are You?” and away we went on another amazing journey through so many classic tunes; a history of this extraordinary band, and also of our own lives and memories. The giant screen behind the stage displayed powerful full-face images of Roger, Pete, Keith and John, along with clips of the Who in the ’60s and the ’70s and clips from Quadrophenia. The sound was crisp; I was sitting halfway back on the terrace to the left of the stage, and every note was very clear. The first part of the set featured early classics: “The Seeker”, “Picture of Lily”, “The Kids are Alright”, “My Generation” and my personal favourite “I Can See for Miles”. Then we moved swiftly to the ’70s and the haunting “Behind Blue Eyes” followed by “Bargain” from “Who’s Next”, “Join Together”, and “You Better You Bet”. The aforementioned segment from “Quadrophenia” followed. “Eminence Front” is not my favourite track, so I took the opportunity to have a walk around the arena, finding a spot downstairs on the floor towards the back. I spent the rest of evening there, enjoying the band and observing the crowd singing along, dancing and generally going crazy. The songs from “Tommy” followed, culminating in a powerful crowd singalong to “Listening to You” which always gets me. I knew we were on the home stretch. Roger’s voice was holding out fine, and Pete was full of power and angst, twirling and twirling his arm, and squeezing great solos out of his Fender Stratocaster. The familiar minimalist synthesiser intro signalled “Baba O’Reilly” which then lead into closing song “Won’t Get Fooled Again”; as raw and relevant as ever. Pure class. Pete introduced the band, and they left the stage at around 10.30pm. I took the 2 minute walk across the road to the Wembley Hilton. Pete said at the end “Hope to see you again.” Yes indeed, hope so.
Setlist: Who Are You; The Seeker; The Kids Are Alright; I Can See for Miles; My Generation; Pictures of Lily; Behind Blue Eyes; Bargain; Join Together; You Better You Bet; I’m One; The Rock; Love Reign O’er Me; Eminence Front; Amazing Journey/Sparks; Pinball Wizard; See Me Feel Me/Listening to You; Baba O’Reilly; Won’t Get Fooled Again
I’m typing this on a very slow train (engineering works on a Sunday) which is gradually taking me back home ‘up north’. Next stop is York. I’m feeling quite tired and stiff this morning; must be starting to feel my age.
Archive for the ‘The Who’ Category
The Whitley Bay Film Festival presents “Tommy with special guest Roger Daltrey”
So Tommy, or rather Roger, came to Whitley Bay, the past home of many pinball arcades. And he watched the great 1975 movie with us. The Whitley Bay Film festival kicked off it’s sixth year of movie, culture, music and arts events with a very special 40th anniversary screening of Ken Russell’s and The Who’s classic film, Tommy. Roger Daltrey was in attendance for a conversation with music historian Chris Phipps and a question and answer session with the audience. The evening was introduced by festival patron Ian La Frenais.
Tommy is a dark, crazy, OTT ride through 1970s culture. It features a star cast of acting and musical royalty including Oliver Reed, Jack Nicholson, Elton John and The Who themselves to name but a few. The music is, of course, based on a reworking of the Who’s classic 1969 rock opera. I went along with Norm, and the two enjoyed the joys of the film all over again. We both saw the film when it was first released, but neither of us had seen it since then. I was surprise how current it seemed; its larger than life characters and images, iconography, pastiche reminding me to some extent of recent movies such as Moulin Rouge.
Leading up to the main film event, the festival team held a month long pinball tournament, which ran throughout July, and culminated in the final held in the foyer, immediately prior to the film screening. Our pinball champion was Matt Morrison of Whitley Bay, who was presented with his award by Roger Daltrey. After the movie we were all treated to a question and answer session with Roger, sat next to a lovingly restored pinball machine, and who admitted: “I’m the worst pinball player in the world.” Roger was introduced festival patron, comedy writer Ian La Frenais, originally from Whitley Bay and whose work with writing partner Dick Clement includes The Likely Lads and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet. Ian told us: “I had my first snog in this building”. Roger told several stories of the making of the film including how he was the target of a fire hose which left him “black and blue”, thrown in a cold bath and laid on an ironing board while Cousin Kevin tortured him. He also admitted “Ann Margaret was supposed to be my mother, but that was a tough acting job on my part.” A unique night and an opportunity to see a hero up close.
“That deaf, dumb and blind kid, Sure plays a mean pinball!” (Townshend, 1969).
The Who Hyde Park London 26th June 2015
The Who. Hyde Park. London. 50 years. David, Shauna and I scrored some cheap tickets outside. It don’t get much better. We enter the park and catch the end of PUl Weller’s set. 65,000 people sing along to opener Can’t Explain and we are all off on our own Amazing Journey. The hits just keep coming: The Seeker, I Can See for Miles, The Kids are Alright, Pictures of Lily (for special guest Weller, Roger tells us). What happened to Substitute? Never mind; we can’t always get we we want. Pete is on top form, windmill arm twirling and swirling. Roger’s voice is strong; the songs still sound fresh even after all this time, particularly with the Hyde park choir helping them along. Roger and Pete seem genuinely pleased to be back home playing in London, just a few miles from where it all started. “We are the Mods” sing the old guys behind us. £22 for a bottle of Pino Grigio; are they having a laugh? Class visuals take us through Tommy and Quadrophenia, with lots of shots of Keith and the Ox. Won’t Get Fooled Again closes it, after which Pete and Roger spend quite a few minutes thanking everyone. We wait around but there is no encore (what happened to Magic Bus?). Musn’t be greedy. My 20th Who show, and if this really was the last time that I’ll see this great band, it was a pretty excellent show on which to finish my Who journey.
Setlist:I Can’t Explain; The Seeker; Who Are You; The Kids Are Alright; Pictures of Lily; I Can See for Miles; My Generation; Behind Blue Eyes; Bargain; Join Together; You Better You Bet; I’m One; Love, Reign O’er Me; Eminence Front; Amazing Journey; Sparks; Pinball Wizard; See Me, Feel Me; Baba O’Riley; Won’t Get Fooled Again
Live 8 Hyde Park London 2nd July 2005
I was so excited about this event for three reasons: firstly because I’d been in Wembley Stadium for Live Aid, secondly to see The Who, and thirdly and most of all to see Pink Floyd again. We (me, Marie, David and Laura) all went, staying the weekend in London. I’d managed to get tickets for the Gold Circle which took us right down the front, next to the stage, so we had an excellent view of the entire day’s proceedings.
Bob Geldof opened the proceedings, followed by Paul McCartney with U2 performing “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” (It was 20 years ago today! Wonderful). Then U2 performed “Beautiful Day” (with a verse of the Beatles’ “Blackbird”), “Vertigo”, “One” (including a segment from “Unchained Melody”). Coldplay were next up and played “In My Place” with a section from “Rockin’ All Over the World” (cheeky; Quo should have been on stage performing this, but weren’t invited although they of course opened Live Aid), “Bitter Sweet Symphony” (joined by Richard Ashcroft), and “Fix You”. David Walliams and Matt Lucas then came on stage in the role of their Little Britain characters Lou and Andy and introduced Elton John who played “The Bitch Is Back”, “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting”, and “Children of the Revolution” (with guest Pete Doherty). Bill Gates was then next up on stage to introduce Dido who sang “White Flag” and “Thank You” and “7 Seconds”with Youssou N’Dour.
Stereophonics were followed by REM who were introduced by Ricky Gervais. R.E.M. performed “Imitation of Life”, “Everybody Hurts”, and “Man on the Moon”. Then Kofi Annan introduced Ms. Dynamite who was followed by Keane and Travis. Bob Geldof joined Travis to sing “I Don’t Like Mondays”. Brad Pitt was next on stage to introduce Annie Lennox, then came UB40, Snoop Dogg and Razorlight.
Bob Geldof then introduced 24-year-old Birhan Woldu, the starving Ethiopian child whose image was so powerful in the video shown at Live Aid. Madonna took to the stage, embraced Birhan and held hands with her as she sang “Like a Prayer”.
Madonna was followed by Snow Patrol, The Killers, Joss Stone, Scissor Sisters, and Velvet Revolver (good but a bit out of place at this event). Then Lenny Henry presented Sting who sang the same songs as he performed at Live Aid: “Message in a Bottle”, “Driven To Tears”, and “Every Breath You Take”. Next Dawn French introduced Mariah Carey who was amazing, and David Beckham presented “his friend” Robbie Williams who got the crowd really going with “We Will Rock You”, “Let Me Entertain You”, “Feel”, and “Angels”. Peter Kay sauntered onto the stage and couldn’t resist singing “Is This the Way to Amarillo”.
Now we were moving to the legends; the bands that I had really come to see. The Who played “Who Are You”, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. They were followed by an event which I never thought I would see, the reunion of Pink Floyd and a breath-taking performance of “Speak to Me”/”Breathe”, “Money”, “Wish You Were Here” (real lump in the thrat moment and closed with “Comfortably Numb”. It was left to Paul McCartney to close the show with “Get Back”, “Drive My Car” (with George Michael), “Helter Skelter”, and “The Long and Winding Road”. He finished with “Hey Jude’ to which everyone sang along, and which seemed to go on for ever. We left Hyde Park as the crowd continued to sing “Na Na Na NaNa Na Na….”). The show was originally scheduled to close at 9.30pm, but seriously overran and went on until just after midnight.
The Floyd reunion was, of course, the real highlight for me. Gilmour announced the reunion less than a month before the gig, on 12 June 2005: “ Like most people I want to do everything I can to persuade the G8 leaders to make huge commitments to the relief of poverty and increased aid to the third world. It’s crazy that America gives such a paltry percentage of its GNP to the starving nations. Any squabbles Roger and the band have had in the past are so petty in this context, and if re-forming for this concert will help focus attention then it’s got to be worthwhile.” Waters said on stage: “It’s actually quite emotional standing up here with these three guys after all these years. Standing to be counted with the rest of you. Anyway, we’re doing this for everyone who’s not here, but particularly, of course, for Syd.” The screens showed video from their past shows, and a film of the pig from the Animals flying over Battersea Power Station. This was simply mind-blowing stuff; for me it was a very emotional experience. I found Wish You Were Here particularly powerful; you felt they were singing the song for Syd; which of course they were. Syd sadly passed away the following year. With Wright’s subsequent passing in 2008, this was to be the final concert to feature all four playing together.
A great, momentous day.
The Who Newcastle, Metro Radio Arena, 25th May 2007
The Who were on a roll and continued to tour throughout 2007, playing across Europe, the USA and headlining Glastonbury. Their set was similar to that which they had played during 2006, containing classic tracks and much of their, then current, “Endless Wire” album.
Setlist: I Can’t Explain; The Seeker; Relay; Who Are You; Behind Blue Eyes; Fragments; Real Good Looking Boy; Sound Round; Pick Up The Peace; Endless Wire; We Got A Hit; They Made My Dream Come True; Mirror Door; Baba O’Riley; Eminence Front; A Man In A Purple Dress; The Real Me; You Better You Bet; My Generation; Cry If You Want; Won’t Get Fooled Again.
Encore: Pinball Wizard; Amazing Journey; Sparks; See Me Feel Me; Tea And Theatre
That concludes my reminiscences of seeing The Who in concert. I have been to a few more Who gigs since 2007, but I have already blogged about those.
The Who are, without question, one of my favourite bands; alongside the Stones and the Groundhogs. There are few rock bands who can match their breadth and range of classic material, going from the great pop and mod singles of the mid 1960s, through the epic “Tommy” rock opera, the anthemic “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and to “Quadrophenia” (“A Way of Life” 🙂 ). My own particular favourites are “I Can See For Miles”, “The Seeker” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. I am also a big fan of “Tommy” and have grown to love “Quadrophenia” over the years, having now seen The Who perform it on four occasions. On a good night The Who are simply the best rock band in the world, and they have given me some of my best (and loudest 🙂 ) concert memories; including amazing gigs at Newcastle Odeon (1971 & 1973), Charlton (1974 & 1976) and Edinburgh Odeon (1979). And they still continue to deliver; the recent gig I saw at Newcastle Arena, which was part of their 50th anniversary tour, was excellent. I reckon I’ve seen The Who play 19 times to date; hope I get to see them at least once more.
The Who Wireless Festival Harewood House Leeds 25th June 2006
Support from The Flaming Lips; The Zutons; Eels; Super Furry Animals; Robyn Hitchcock; The Answer; Casbah Club
Went with David to see The Who at the O2 Wireless festival at Harewood House, just outside Leeds. The ticket was a barcode on my phone, so no stub to post here 😦 The supporting line-up was strong with great performances from The Answer (an Irish rock’n’blues band in the mould of Free and ’70s rock), Eels, Robyn Hitchcock (retro psych genius) and Casbah Club (super modster band featuring Simon Townshend) performing on the main stage and in a marquee. The best performance, other than the Who, came from The Flaming Lips, with a spectacular theatrical show which featured front man Wayne surfing across the crowd in a giant hamster ball 🙂
The Who’s performance featured several new songs which would appear on their 11th album “Endless Wire”, the usual Tommy segment, old faves and some unexpected classics including “The Seeker” and “Relay”. Great stuff.
Setlist: Who Are You; I Can’t Explain; The Seeker; Anyway Anyhow Anywhere; Sound Round; Pick Up The Peace; Endless Wire; We Got A Hit; They Made My Dream Come True; Mirror Door; Baba O’Riley; Drowned; Relay; The Kids Are Alright; Behind Blue Eyes; Mike Post Theme; Cry If You Want; Pinball Wizard; Amazing Journey; See Me Feel Me
Encore: Substitute; Won’t Get Fooled Again
The Who The Royal Albert Hall London 29th March 2004
Support from The Coral
This was the first major UK performance buy the “Who 2”. It was preceded by three warm-up gigs at the London Forum. The line-up was Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend accompanied by Rabbit Bundrick on keyboards, Pino Palladino on bass, Zak Starkey (Ringo’s son) on drums and Simon Townshend (Pete’s younger brother) on guitars and backing vocals.
The concert, which was part of a run of shows in support of the Teenage Cancer Trust for which Roger was Chair at the time, was originally announced as a performance of “Tommy”, but for some reason that never came to be, and what was actually performed was a set of Who classics. Support came from Liverpool psych mod band The Coral, who were excellent. I went to the concert with David. This was the first time I’d been to the Albert Hall, and we stayed in a hotel close to the venue. We had quite good seats, close to the stage, on Pete’s (right hand) side. Roger had a terrible cold and as a result he was singing in an ultra raspy voice. You could see that it was hurting him when he sang. Pete wore black wrap around visor sunglasses for the first couple of songs, which made him look pretty moody. They premiered two new songs “Real Good Looking Boy” and “Old Red Wine”. It was great to see The Who in full flight again.
It is unfair to attempt to draw comparisons between the current Who 2 and the 1970s Who. Of course, it is a different band, and it is impossible to recreate past performances. I am grateful that I can still go to a Who concert, and see Roger and Pete play those classic songs.
We got up very early to catch a train at 6am so I could get back up north and go to work.
Setlist: Who Are You; I Can’t Explain; Substitute; Anyway Anyhow Anywhere; Baba O’Riley; Behind Blue Eyes; 5.15; Sea And Sand; Love Reign O’er Me; Eminence Front; You Better You Bet; Real Good Looking Boy; The Kids Are Alright; My Generation; Old Red Wine; Won’t Get Fooled Again
Encore: Pinball Wizard; Amazing Journey; Sparks; See Me Feel Me.
The next time I saw the Who was at Live 8 in Hyde Park. They played a short two song set of “Who Are You” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, sandwiched between Robbie Williams and the reunited Pink Floyd and were introduced by Peter Kay 🙂 I need to blog about Live 8 on another day.
Tomorrow I’ll move to a Who performance in 2006 at the O2 Wireless Festival, Harewood House, Leeds, 2006.