If this is too long for you to read in its entirety, the show was okay. Great sound and visuals, but staged, rehearsed, no spark, the keyboards sucked. Someone should slap the music director. John Corey needs to take a nap. Details to follow!
What I saw and heard was a group of musicians going through the paces of a long piece of work. The only person on the stage who appeared to be having any fun at all, and putting much into it was Pete Townsend. Daltry went through the motions – but if you look at videos and stills from prior shows, it appeared staged. There is a point during Bell Boy when he turns and watches the video of Keith Moon singing it, and even the hand gestures were basically the same as the show I saw. It didn’t detract from the performance, but the only spontaneity seen on the stage was Pete’s. Anyone who hadn’t seen prior performances would have been amazed. The audio was great. The lighting, stage and visual performance was superb. But, if you saw the 1996 Quadrophenia show, or the 2000 or 2002 shows, this was lackluster. I saw the 2006 Endless Wire show in about the worst place on Earth – Seattle, Washington, and even though the sound was not good, and most people in the Pacific NorthWest are bi-polar, it was better than this. The spark was missing on Friday. In all fairness to Seattle, I did get sober there. However, I think Seattle itself was part of why I drank to excess. When I got sober, I got license plate holders made that said, “Washington – The Bi-Polar State.” Finally, I just left. They may have kicked me out.
I was horribly disappointed by the keyboards. In the few weeks leading up to the show I’d been listening to the recordings from the Shoreline Amphitheater show from 2000, and I listen for the keys. I love “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere,” from Townsend saying, “This is so fucking stupid,” to the end, but what really sets shows like that apart from what I saw and heard on Friday is the musicianship and the keyboards. I love those recordings. I can hear your piano work, and out of the blue, in the song come these odd funky little synth and organ riffs which are really reminiscent of Won’t Get Fooled Again. It’s just really good. You are a very good, single keyboard player. On Friday, they had 3 passable ones, one of whom had little business being on the stage – and that, unfortunately, is the musical director. Frank Simes had no business being there. Loren Gold was the same as he was in Daltry’s band for Tommy. He may be a great player, but I didn’t see or hear it. He used a Yamaha S90. He had 2 synths or workstations. One, I’m pretty sure was an Access Virus TI2. The other might have been a Kronos, but I couldn’t really tell, and I was unsure what was sequenced and what wasn’t, and what virtual instruments he had. And then there’s John Corey. I thought he was going to drop dead. I was expecting to see Chris Stainton, and I looked at this bloated, white haired guy who spent a fair amount of his time standing up, wiping his face with a towel and then sitting down again and I thought, “What the fuck is this?” The guy had a massive gut. I caught myself thinking, “Is this Santa or Dr. John?” Then I thought, “It must be Santa as Dr. John is very close to being a god.” The piano parts I heard were passable, non-descript, rehearsed – what I’d expect to see and hear from “any” decent group, but not The Who – or any group which would call themselves The Who. I could have carried it off by myself, much better. You did many, many times. What made Tommy a disappointment for me in 2011 made Quadrophenia a disappointment for me on Friday. Except for Pete’s pieces there was absolutely nothing which didn’t appear unscripted. For 5:15, while the clip of John Entwistle played, and Starkey drummed along, Pino left the stage, and then returned at the end to finish up the song. It was great to see and hear the tribute to the greatest rock bass player who ever lived, but to me it was an incredible disservice to one of the greatest living rock bass players around. I would have much rather seen and heard something from Pino than re-watching Entwistle, as good as he was. Again – too rehearsed and staged for my taste. The piano intro to Love Reign O’er me, into the strings, which always gets me emotional, I simply found strange. There was enough of the original to make it recognizable, but Corey threw in these odd pauses, as if waiting for someone to throw him a dog treat, and then added a suspended chord at the end, resolving it to the tonic before Gold brought the strings in, and I just thought, the only thing cheesier would have been if he finished with an “amen,” chord change. And Daltry just could not carry off the vocal for it. He tried, and did an okay job, but there was just no hitting it at the end.
The six hits, following Quadrophenia were okay. Again, Pete’s guitar was the star. Nothing else seemed fresh. As many times as I saw you with The Who – 8 times, playing the same pieces (Except for Endless Wire), there was always something which set the pieces and the shows apart. There was some spark, some excitement, fun. The band may not have been having a good time, but they certainly appeared to. And, I still just do not understand why the end with “Tea and Theater?” It just lends more to the whole “staged” feel, with Roger and his cup of tea. But, lots of people seem to love that. I’m just not one of them. I’m a Who fan. I saw Muse on Monday, and that was lights, bells, whistles, you name it, along with the talent, charisma, etc. In other words, the spark was there.
I’m sure that many, many people left on Friday night astounded at how good the show was, and it was good, but I’m unsure of what I saw. It came across more as a stage musical than a rock concert, and I’m not sure why, but I’d like to punch Frank Simes. He reminded me a little of Neil Sedaka, and I don’t want to punch him. Maybe it was the stupid hat he was wearing. I think that if you had been there, even if there were other keyboard players and YOU had been the director, you could have breathed some life into it, polished it up, made it shine a little. The opening band, Vintage Trouble, was about the best opening band I’ve ever seen. They had the place dancing. They didn’t have a keyboard player, though, so although they sounded great and had incredible stage presence – as you and I both know – any band without a keyboard player sucks.