Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Who: Live!

I guess I'm making a habit of reviving this blog every time I see a concert that I liked. Why stop now?

I saw The Who on Tuesday night, the opening night of their abbreviated U.S. tour. My wife and I were in the third row at the Palace at Auburn Hills.

What was nice about this show was this as close to the stripped-down, genuine Who as we are ever going to get. Six people in the band: Roger Daltrey, Pete Tonwshend, Rabbit Bundrick (the band's keyboardist since ), John Enwhistle replacement Pino Palladino on bass, Zak Starkey on drums and Pete's little brother Simon on guitar – w-a-a-a-y in back.

As for the creds of Mr. Starkey, Ringo Starr's son and frequent drummer for Oasis these days, you might not remember this but Peye and Roger thought he so good at channeling Keith Moon that they invited him to be the band's permanent drummer – but he declined.

The night's biggest surprise: Based on previous tours, I expected Pete to once again take the back seat musically. But no, he played lead guitar throughout the night on all the classics. With all the theatrics and his unorthodox playing, we tend to forget how amazingly innovative he is as a player. And he was giving it his all. At one point (because we were so close) we noticed his fingers were bleeding.

No, their voices aren't what they once were. Pete, in particular, seemed to struggle. Roger also had his lesser moments. But give him credit. He could have gone with "Substitute," "Kids Are Alright" and other tunes that don't require him to stretch his vocal chords. But no, we heard "Love Reign O'er Me," "See Me Feel Me" and "5:15" at full blast. More notable: Both "Quadrophenia" tunes were absent from their last U.S. tour in 2006.

Also, Roger never really took a break except when Pete sang "Eminence Front." That was unusual. When I saw him on his solo tour about 20 years ago, he had to let guitarist Russ Ballard do a few of his own songs. Maybe that's the benefit of not dying before you get old. Your vocal chords get a second wind.

The other thing I loved was the retro look of the show. All the guitars and basses (and of course Roger's mike) had cords. The entire stage was filled with miked retro Fender amps. If you were an oldtime Detroiter, you had to love the shout out to the MC-5. Kick Out the Jams, indeed. Pete, in particular, talked about his affection for Detroit: How it was the first American city to play a Who tune on the radio ("Happy Jack"), how the best car he ever owned was a 1966 Lincoln Continental MK II "built in Detroit."

The band played for more than two hours including a three song encore that included "Magic Bus," a Tommy suite that included "Pinball Wizard" and "See Me Feel Me" and "Tea and Theatre" from theband's Endless Wire (2006) album. Among the tunes played live for the first time in years were "Getting in Tune," "Tattoo" and "Sister Disco"

There were a few technical glitches. Townshend restarted "Pinball Wizard" after one of the strings on his guitar broke, exchanging it for a "nice shiny gold one" that he assured the audiences would sound better.

But on the whole, it was an incredibly satisfying show. More than it had the right to be.

The photos you see are from my crappy 1.3 mp cell phone. I'm sorry that my personal technology is about 10 years behind the times.

My taste in music goes farther back than that.

Most of the time.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fulfilling some requests made over the last few months

Ain't it wonderful what you can find at garage sales?

My finds over this past summer have included Carly Simon's Hello Big Man and the Bull Durham soundtrack – yes, the long out-of-print version that sells for $60 on Amazon and I previously only had on vinyl. As luck would have it, some of our more gracious posters had asked for some more tracks from those albums. To thank them for their patience during this hiatus from all things musical, I thought I'd post them here.

"You Know What To Do" by Carly Simon

"Try A Little Tenderness" by Dr. John and Bennie Wallace