Sunday, October 22, 2006

Cobwebs and Strange

When The Who (or as my brother and I call them now; “The Two”) began this year’s US tour, in Philadelphia on September 12, it was their first time in the US not celebrating an anniversary of some sort (1989 – Tommy’s 20th; 1993 – Quadrophenia’s 20th, 1999 – Tommy’s 30th) in quite some time. Pete Townshend had declared revulsion for the “Who On Ice” Tours of that time – “Ladies and gentleman … Please welcome … Special guest … Billy Idol as Cousin Kevin!!!” There is even an NEW recording by The Who on the horizon – “Wire and Glass” … release date October 31, 2006 … my 45th birthday!!!

Pete and Roger remembered!!! How sweet!!!

I go way back with The Who.

They were played on AM Top 40 Radio long long ago, back in the mid- to late-sixties, which was all a nine year-old in Connecticut knew about; all I had access to. I still – today, 2006 – don’t know if there WAS FM radio before 1973. I knew nothing of it before moving to Philadelphia. The list of songs I heard on AM [WTCT, I believe] – AM, now being the realm of news, sports and right-wing talk radio – before my discovery of FM radio, is a WTF? cornucopia of “How could they NOT know?”

Acid Queen – The Who – well, duh
Only Women Bleed – Alice Cooper – duh, again
Purple Haze – Jimi – duh, cubed
Sympathy for the Devil – The Stones – duh, infinity
Lola – The Kinks – Transvestitism
Walk on the Wild Side – Lou Reed, various and sundry subjects
Rainy Day Women 12-24 – Bob Dylan – catchy tune
Me and Bobby McGee – Janis – Bob ... was a dude? Maybe, that’s an “i”???
Immigrant Song and Whole Lotta Love – Led Zep – just scared me

But there they were, on “Kasey Kasem’s American Top 40” every week. In spite of this – and not having ANY idea what ANY of these people (other than the Beatles) looked like – I knew deep down, that The Who were a smart band for smart people.

I took up my flag as a Who fan with Tommy.

“A smart band for smart people?” As much of a student of The Who as I became; in the pre-pre-pre-Internet world of the time; with my first few soccer practices as a freshman in High School, I realized that Jocks liked The Who, The Hobbits liked Led Zeppelin, and Girls liked the Stones.

Let’s turn that inside out: The Who were about drinking, Led Zep was about smoking, and eventually you’d get laid (since after a few beers and a couple of joints, girls couldn’t tell the difference.) To see what I’m talking about, what “Dazed and Confused.”

Years passed. Moon died.

I drank. I ran. I finally saw them in 1979 – the night before the tragedy in Cincinnati. I saw them again at JFK Stadium in 1982 – their first Farewell Tour

I listened to The Who and awaited their triumphant return.

After many years under the radar, they blew the roof off the Garden at the “Tribute to Heroes” concert after 9-11 … who knew [or who didn’t, really] that so many men in uniform dug The Who???

I was about to buy tickets for the show in Philly when The Ox died. I took it much harder than I expected to. That was it. The anchor was gone. The ship could only drift.

Drift the ship did; for four years.

Pete wrote. Pete wrote. Pete got arrested. Pete wrote some more. Pete wrote some good songs; some very good songs. Songs Roger could sing (in the past, some songs Pete wrote were SO MUCH about Pete, Roger just couldn’t sing them).

Now they are back.

I downloaded a show from a couple of weeks ago. I had had it on my MP3 tonight … September 26, 2006, Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, Iowa. Yeah, Des Moines!!! “why didn’t youse get the Philly show???!!” Well, 1) it’s not available yet, and b) they didn’t play many of the new songs.

Doing my warm-ups, it was hard to keep my HR from jumping up just on the opening three tunes [“I Can’t Explain”, “The Seeker” and “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere”] I had previewed my acquisition on the tiny PC speakers, by not on the little blaster that is my MP3 player. I can’t run with anything in my ears, so I had to wait for my bike work-out to feel it’s full effects there … let me say … substantial, ... or maybe I was just really excited to be back in the gym after a few months.

I blew off Townshend’s warning about “earbud” style headphones …

“Hearing loss is a terrible thing because it cannot be repaired. If you use an iPod or anything like it, or your child uses one, you MAY be OK. It may only be studio earphones that cause bad damage.”

… pushed the volume to the max, and waited for “Baba O’Reilly” ... [skipping "Behind Blue Eyes" (which I could live quite comfortably without ever hearing again) and the new stuff (no disrespect intended)]

2: I Can't Explain - 02:16
3: The Seeker - 02:25
4: Anyway Anyhow Anywhere - 04:39
6: Who Are You - 06:56
10: Baba O'Riley - 05:50
11: Eminence Front - 06:01
13: Mike Post Theme - 04:06 [actually a pretty good new tune]*
14: Intro >You Better You Bet - 06:43
15: My Generation - 07:47
16: Won't Get Fooled Again - 09:52.

I nearly tore the pedals off.

* Mike Post wrote the theme music to the best detective / cop / law shows of the 80's [Rockford Files, Simon & Simon, Magnum PI, Hill Street Blues, LA Law] ... Now, in 2006, music from The Who is featured in ads for Hummer, Target, and more. The CSI franchise picked up "Who Are You" for its first production. That carried enough brand recognition to be pulled through CSI:NY ["Baba O'Reilly"] and now the most exquisite scream in recorded history ["Won't Get Fooled Again"] follows right after David Caruso's most forced pun of the week ["She wanted to catch some sun" " Well, something caught her instead"]

In a review of the NYC show, MPT [as it will be known, if it stays in the setlist; as it should, as long as there IS a setlist] is described as, "a strange ode to the television show composer that featured memorable riffs tied to silly lyrics. Explaining the latter with tongue in cheek, Townshend commented: 'You think you're going to watch a sucky TV show, and then you hear a Who song. Ka-ching!'"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Holy cow - who knew???