By Reza Ganjavi
THE WHO: PETE TOWNSHEND: Guitar, ROGER DALTREY: Vocals, JOHN ENTWHISTLE: Bass. With Keyboards and ZAK STARKY on Drums (he was trained by Keith Moon)
Attended the best concert of my life last night – let’s see, was it better than Paul McCartney’s concert at the Holly Wood Bowl where he sang many Beatles songs – apples & oranges…
The Who performed at the Irvine Meadows Amphitheater. The concert traffic had turned the 405 to a standstill parking lot. My friend Reza (RJ) and I managed to cruise around the traffic. The crowd was much more than anyone had expected. We had no tickets but managed to get them under par at the door after some negotiation.
On this lovely summer evening, as we walked in the Meadows the moon was full and there was that special joy, that very special feeling which is missing from any people’s lives. RJ couldn’t get in the section. I asked a few people if they’d lend him a ticket but no one would trust a stranger in that hustle and bustle. Walked up to 3 girls “I am not going to cheat you…“ so they agreed and RJ got in. Had a good chat with them and gave the Peruvian one a CD (instead of the drinks they had asked for in lieu of their favor). Then we walked to the front of a column and 2 open seats happened to be there – a perfect spot with a great view. Front middle of section 2.
The concert began with CAN’T EXPLAIN – the girl next to me held her hand like a microphone in front of my mouth as I sang it along with the same pitch, volume, and color as Roger. Next was another extremely powerful song SUBSTITUTE – WOW! That was followed by the great number ANYWHERE ANYHOW ANYWAY. Then Pete announced the songs: “In the first song, we explained that we cannot explain. In the second song we explained that… and in the 3rd song we said you can do anything you f--- want to do – thanks to you for letting us do that by buying the concert tickets”.
Townshend’s guitar was often way too loud for the band during the solos. He went through a lot of guitars – surely he broke a lot of strings. In some songs the passages were not tight. I was trying to figure out what it was – now I know – it was the drummer – he is perhaps too inexperienced – though he is Ringo’s son and has played with the best. It takes a special skill which I cannot explain properly, but has to do with the pre-strum/leading-beat of Pete and John which requires a very subtle feel for beat by the drummer – but Zak looked like he was struggling the whole night – I mean being a drummer for The Who is not an easy task – Keith Moon (who died in 1978), or even the next guy, Kenny Jones, were powerful and strong. Gotta admit though, Zak did a great job – he did 90% of a very, very difficult task. Some songs were very tight and very thrilling.
They played non-stop for over 2 hours – one hit after another – minus a couple of less-known tunes.
It appears that Daltrey may have had cosmetic/plastic surgery. He looked very young in his face – and his body was very fit – he had unbuttoned his shirt. Peter and Roger were both wearing long sleeve shirts untucked, with sleeves rolled up. The keyboard player was an older man with a Greek name?
One of the great things about their performance was that computers and sequencers were not used at all except on for example, WON’T GET FOOLED AGAIN and BABA’O’RILEY – 2 major crowd pleasers. Other numbers from Who’s Next were BEHIND BLUE EYES, MY WIFE, and my favorite: BARGAIN. PINBALL WIZARD and MAGIC BUS were other smash hits.
I luckily had a lot of room to dance/jump/sing/perform/conduct along with the band – Entwistle did a bass solo on 515. He is an amazing technician and has good ideas but in musical improvisation, like most other rock musicians they can be pretty awful melodically. Townshend was in a silly mood and made fun of his ignorance of music theory – had a capo on and as he strummed a chord he said: “What is that? A G-flat-9-diminised 7?? or a G-flat-minor-9-diminished-raised – oops you cannot raise diminished!!!” Their band members, who’ve been friends since their teenage years had fun together – and they made a joke of John’s extra thick English accent which we wouldn’t understand… I still think he’s the best Rock bass player of all time –aside from Paul McCartney.
WHO ARE YOU was followed by another one of my all-time favorites, THE REAL ME showing scenes from the movie Quadrophenia. They skipped the middle section (vocal & drums). Another number from that album was DRAWN.
The crowd was mostly aging baby boomers plus kids my age!! and younger. Some of these folks in their 40s were so unenergetic – shouting: sit down, to even the most danceable songs such as probably the most beautiful: YOU BETTER YOU BET. One woman came to me and bitched about sitting down (there were many who were standing up) and I told her to get off my hair – later on I went up and apologized – there was a friendly atmosphere anyway, 2 girls came and sat next to us on the floor for a while – one was a poet and she said the nicest poems – before getting kicked out by the most viscous security guards – the guy asked for my ticket but I said: the girls are here visiting – and he said: no visitors and we got off the hook.
The encore was THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT – a great tune which was inspired by The Beatles’ All My Loving – after which we started leaving – and heard MY GENERATION in which Pete probably smashed a guitar. The array of Limousines outside the amphitheater was amazing – I had never seen such big Limos – 7 windows on each side – one could hold 16 people! ($200 per hour – 3-hour minimum). Got ripped off in the parking lot by a polyester shirt fake as cotton. RJ was partly responsible. Oh well!
Daltrey has an amazing voice - it seems like it's gotten even better over the years - great color and tone... The amazing thing is that he does not lose his voice after doing this 3 times a week. I sang along almost the whole time – I can still talk… Overall, an extremely enjoyable concert.
"I can still remember exactly how it was when Keith Moon first got behind the drum kit with John, Pete and myself. It was like a spaceship taking off, it just went voom... that chemistry is such a gift". Roger Daltrey
The Who Bassist John Entwistle Dies
"Their concerts were literally explosive — a fusion of audacious acrobatics, martial precision and high octane rock 'n' roll... “Ray Manzarek, the keyboardist for the Doors, called Entwistle "one of the great, great rock 'n' roll bassists of all time. A real genius." "He just was the most humble rock star I have ever met, besides having the best hands of any bass player in the history of rock and roll," added rocker Sammy Hagar. Coroner: Cocaine Killed Entwistle "Who bassist John Entwistle spent his final hours snorting cocaine. That, along with a pre-existing heart condition, was enough to kill him. Maddrell said the "moderate usage" of the drug had a fatal effect given Entwistle's high cholesterol and high blood pressure, much of that brought on by a rock 'n' roll lifestyle that included smoking up to a pack a day of cigarettes and downing excessive amounts of alcohol.
The Who At Super Bowl
The Who... nice special effects but dragging...
In this performance The Who sound like old clunkers, nevertheless, this Super Bowl halftime performance features a medley of a few of their great songs (they have a lot more great songs than this set), and great special effects. Roger Daltrey is one of my heroes. Pete Townshend is a great songwriter, and power-chord player. On drums is Ringo Starr's son, Zak -- a great drummer who's held back by the clunkers.