Frankly, the prospect of a Quadrophenia tour didn't thrill me. It was hardly my favorite work, and besides, Lori and I saw The Who put on a Quadrophenia show at The Palace in 1996, back when John Entwistle was still alive. My main memories were that Pete Townshend played only acoustic guitar during the album presentation that evening, and that the tour program I had purchased was missing many of its pages. Then there was the ticketing: for the kind of seats I might want, I might have to buy a "VIP package" that would throw in souvenirs I didn't really want, at prices I certainly didn't want to pay. So I held off... right up until the day before the show, when 12th row seats opened up at a regular price. Gonna see The Who!
|Playing along with Keith: Bell Boy|
|Vintage Trouble opened the show|
The Who -- now a 10-piece band -- came out around 8:30. Pete, with a checkered jacket over a white t-shirt. and Roger with his own button down jacket and shirt combo (the shirt, of course, would be in various conditions of buttoning throughout the show, finally culminating in "fully unbuttoned" for the encores). Not a uniform band, in terms of clothes, anyway. By the time The Real Me was over, we could see how the show would proceed: Huge overhead video displays were used to present, alternately, a history lesson, the story of Quadrophenia, and a retrospective of the band. Pete would play plenty of lead electric guitar. And the vintage moves -- Roger twirling the microphone, Pete's windmill attack on the guitar -- would be in evidence, over and over again. All of the sound effects, from the roaring sea, to the snippets of The Kids Are Alright and The Thunderer, were presented seamlessly. The only obvious glitch was when Daltrey came forward to play harmonica, and no sound could be heard as his transmitter was off.
|Hope I get old and don't die? The windmill lives.|
The album portion of the show concluded with a typically forceful version of Love Reign O'er Me, starting with Roger silhouetted against images of the sea water tumbling down, and going through to the final screams and windmill chords.
|A drink of cool cool rain.|
The encores were drawn mostly from Who's Next, and completely lacked the urgency of the Quadrophenia presentation. In the audience, the reaction seemed opposite; through the main portion of the show the audience -- save for the people down front with us -- were mostly sitting on their hands. But when the band started Behind Blue Eyes, suddenly there were 12,000 people who knew all the words and were very willing to sing them, loudly.
|Tea & Theater|
The show worked. No pretense, really, of seeing anything "new," though with the fresh musical attack and the video presentation, Quadrophenia retained a certain timelessness. In a sense, perhaps it was old even when it was first released in 1973, so it just hasn't aged that much. Before the concert, when I had told my good friend, and The Who biographer Dave Marsh, that we were likely going to the show, he offered up that "they are still the perfect introduction for classic rock for young teen boys," but that too much could turn one in to a "yobbo" (I had to look that up). We got the introduction. And the kid is alright.
|Future's bright...||Daltrey's next move: FTD spokesman|