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Friday, October 24, 2008

A Real Life Guitar Hero! In Expert Mode No Less

Make No Mistake, the Who Are No Mere Nostalgia Act

I’ve always had a fondness for the music of the Who and I relish any opportunity to see them perform. The latest occasion happened Wednesday night, (number one son in tow) at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton. A huge venue by any stretch and a far cry from the shoebox like clubs I usually patronize. Of course we got there early to check out “Gargantuleum” and take in the atmosphere of a real rock and roll event. The energy created at these spectacles is palpable and somewhat akin to a professional sports event. Minus the face paint and bare chest lettering mind you. We caught the openers, Inward Eye and were suitably impressed by the energetic trio From Winnipeg. Think Green Day minus the spit, polish and sneering upper lip. There was no doubt they were riding a bit of a high after being tapped to open for the Who on this leg of their tour. They performed their brand of three chord pop dutifully but it was pretty clear the audience were there to see the bolder name on the marquee.

Just after 9 pm Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend unceremoniously trotted out onto the somewhat spartan stage offering up their typical opener, I Can’t Explain. Not a surprising choice, they’ve opened with that one for years and it was in fact the band’s first single from way back in 1965. This most appropriate song- a decibel rich call to arms for young and old was peppered with images on the huge video screen showing scenes from the ’60s when The Who were the young ones on the bill- brazen and loud, violent and destructive. A flurry of vintage photographs of the late John Entwistle and Keith Moon mugging for the camera, drew a huge response from the crowd. Sentimental? Predictable? Absolutely. And we loved it. Make no mistake though, the Who are far from being a mere nostalgia act.

The power chord onslaught continued with The Seeker and The Kids are Alright and in a word it was simply ‘fun’. These songs were exactly why I fell in love with this band in the first place. I didn’t see a band of aging rockers trying to relive their past, as some critics are want to point out. But rather, I saw them literally making new memories for an audience of young and old. There were arms raised, cheers, smiles and certainly by the end of the evening, twelve thousand very hoarse voices.

Singer Roger Daltrey (now 64), in his blue tinted glasses and short hair smiled mightily as he twirled a few trademark hoops with his microphone cord. Pete Townshend, wearing a black and white striped pullover, looked more like Marcel Marceau than the rock ‘n’ roll genius he is. Townshend leaned over his guitar and launched into a flurry of intricately familiar solos before lurching into his windmills. Not bad considering I’ll probably be tightening the hand grips on my walker when I am 63.

The barrage continued with Who Are You, Behind Blue Eyes, Sister Disco and Baba O’Reilly. They even snuck a new one in there with their homage to Elvis entitled Real Good Looking Boy. But it was Eminence Front and Getting in Tune that put the biggest smile on my face. The latter song being responsible for a personal musical epiphany twenty five years earlier (almost to the day) at Toronto’s Exhibition Stadium.

It’s worth noting this is not the band your mother knew back in the 1970’s. Gone are gonzo drummer Keith Moon and stalwart bass man John Entwistle. And indeed the dynamic is a different one albeit a little more refined. Zak Starkey’s double bass drum kit shook the dust out of the barn, without overpowering the rest of the players. Simon Townshend, (Pete’s brother), John “Rabbit” Bundrick, and Pino Palladino rounded out the sound of a band at the top of its game. With just a couple dates under their belt for this latest tour their playing was a testimony to both great musicianship and the synchronicity of playing experience.

My evening would have been complete at that point but the deal was sealed when the band pulled out the double barreled Quadrophenia highlights, 5:15 and Love Reign O’er Me. My Generation and Won’t Get Fooled Again played like true anthems were the icing on the proverbial musical cake. At that point I remembered exactly why I wore out my cassette copy of Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy.

At evening’s end my kid was certainly alright, he was downright giddy if truth be told. Beaming like he had just witnessed his own personal guitar hero, (in Expert mode at that.) I’m hoping this one stays with him for a while. I know it will certainly be a stand out show for me.


I Can't Explain
The Seeker
The Kids are Alright
Who Are You?
Behind Blue Eyes
Real Good Looking Boy
Baba O'Reilly
Getting in Tune
Sister Disco
Eminence Front
Love Reign O'er Me
My Generation
Won't Get Fooled Again


Naked Eye
Pinball Wizard/Tommy Medley
Overture/Amazing Journey/Sparks/Underture/We're Not Going to Take It
Tea and Theatre.


Barbara Bruederlin said...

There are many many reasons that I am dying to go to Atlantic Canada sometime, and the Halifax Pop Explosion certainly sweetens the deal. I can only imagine how incredible it would be to be there. The east coast has an incredible music scene and an even more incredible party philosophy.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Ooops, please assume the above comment is for the next post.

However, the Who. Daltrey did the mic swing? Awesome! I'll bet the youngster just loved that, I know I would have. WHat an incredible experience to share with your offspring. The family that rocks together etc...

obsessed with moss said...

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