Recently I saw The Who perform Quadrophenia and then “the same old shit” as Pete Townshend stated before singing Who Are You, Pinball Wizard, My Generation, Baba O’Riley and other classic songs and it was, simply put, amazing.
The opening act was Vintage Trouble and they were, if I could make the comparison, like a menthol cigarette. Smooth and left us wanting more of that good stuff. They played a short set but you can call me impressed. They played Nobody Told Me, Nancy Lee and Run Like The River.
While The Who was before my time, I still grew up with their music which became the backdrop of some of my favorite memories.
Including when Tommy, their more well-known and better received rock opera, was playing on my grandparent’s television in ’89. The cousins and I followed along with Who Are You as wooden spoons became drumsticks and pots became drums. I can still remember Roger Daltrey running in place and swinging his microphone wildly.
Or when I was sitting in my father’s dark cherry Mazada Protegé and together we listened to Join Together and he taught me how to deconstruct the songs and identify which instrument was playing like the jaw harp. And when I was first introduced to Quadrophenia: my father was cleaning the basement in our townhouse and piled the cushions from our IKEA furniture at the bottom of the stairs while Bell Boy blared through our beloved Camacho-odiplex surround sound system. I would wait to hear the cockney accent shout, “Bell Boy! I’ve got to get running now!” before diving from the highest step in to the black cushions below.
Seeing The Who for the first time, and playing Quadrophenia, is my newest memory to add to countless others.
When I first learned that The Who would be touring I purchased my tickets months in advance. Anticipation and anxiety growing each day as February 6 approached. My all-time favorite rock band that I have loved my whole life has been playing for all of theirs’ and I was worried that seeing them perform would not sync up with my memories of their stellar performances.
I had learned that Rog (as Keith Moon affectionally called Roger Daltrey) had undergone vocal chord surgery. A procedure that could help one’s vocal chords, if done corectly, or could make matters worse. Pete Townshend’s hearing aids reacted poorly on opening night of the tour and was unable to perform the encore as he exclaimed, before leaving the stage, that the music was “too loud.” So my fears were not completely unfounded.
Thankfuly they were not realized and the two men, and their talented band, played for two and a half hours with hardly any break. Pete’s guitar playing had me dancing in my seat and Roger’s ability to still hit the high notes like he did in Baba O’Riley made me tearful. Yeah, I cried at The Who concert. I cried like a satistifed fat baby or, perhaps more accurately, like a woman who wanted, since she was a girl, to be born before her time to hear her favorite rockers — Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle and Keith Moon — perform their legendary music.