Friday, October 06, 2006

I swear Pete Townshend smiled at me

Like 5 times!!
Well, I thought he did, but I'm sure everyone else in the first 5 rows did too. Seriously though, he was 30 feet away from me. That's the distance from me to... the staircase or something. We were in fourth row, far right. In Pete's corner of the stage. I've never been that close to a musician, in my life. The whole annoying Saddledome thing was lost to us. Nobody was frisking, we walked straight in. It didn't even smell that bad. I got in before everyone else in our group and went to check the seats. I couldn't believe it, after the floor I just kept walking and walking... until I hit the fourth row. All my other 'dome dates I have been about a bazillion times farther than I was now. So everyone got seated, and the first band played their set. They were called Inward Eye, from Winnipeg, I liked them. You could tell they really wanted to put on a good show, for the sake of opening with the Who. At intermission I went up to get myself some merchandise. I never buy into merchandise, ever, the lines are horribly long, the people don't understand you, the "womens" shirts barely have sleeves and the mens shirt are huge. Did I mention it's usually unreasonably expensive? But, we figured we'd do it this time, they had some nice shirts and I was really excited. I went up and managed to scrounge a medium men's ringer t-shirt. So it was kinda big. Oh well, it's a nice looking shirt and it'll remind me of this concert. As soon as my shirt was bought, the Who decided it would be right to start playing. So I kinda ran back down to the floor. When I got to my seat I realized that I was staring at Pete Townshend, and he was pretty damn close. Okay. So he wasn't like the Pete Townshend of his youth, but he is a living legend. Pete seemed to be the more talkative of the two, recalling the gigs in Calgary of the sixties, before getting into another one of the songs. They played 12 new songs, a lot. Something that wasn't particularly great for me, but I don't blame them for wanting something new after ages of the same stuff. I could see Roger Daltrey, a bit farther down the stage, but I was closest to Pete, watching him still rock at guitar through a couple of chubby drunk guys.

Best old song: My Generation (Okay, so the "I hope I die before I get old" is a bit hypocritical, but they didn't sound that old to me) and Won't Get Fooled Again (A lot of Roger Daltrey screaming, great guitar and peace signs) were great, but in the end, the best for me was "Baba O' Riley". That keyboard intro, and anticipation of the Daltrey's first loud vocals, plus when Pete steps up to the mic with "Don't cry, don't raise your eye, it's only teeenage wastelaand", did it for me.

Best new song: I wasn't crazy about all the new songs, but the one that stood out most for me was "Man In A Purple Dress". I'm assuming this one was about the pope.

Best old person moment: When Roger tells the annoying pot smokers around us, that he'd love to smoke with them, but he's allergic to pot. So please get stoned outside and then come back in. The guys behind us smoking pot yelled something like "HEY I'LL HAVE A SMOKE WITH YA" or something moronic like that, but put the weed away.

Best not old person moment: Pete and Rogers still kinda rebellious antics. Pete does his windmill thing, quite a bit and jumps up and down. Roger swings the mic. Pete chucks his guitar in the corner when it displeases him. He didn't smash it, but chucking was good enough.

Coolest audience appreciation: Before the encore, we start to hear a low murmer of "Who, who, who, who" in the stands, until it gets louder and louder. It was a really weird noise. I also really liked looking up at the stands during "Behind Blue Eyes" and seeing all the pretty lighters, that looked like stars.

Cutest Daltrey and Townshend moment: When they hugged an old man hug at the end. Pete with his acoustic guitar, and Daltrey with a cup of tea. Awwww.

Favourite band member: Ringo's look-alike moppy haired son, Zak Starkey proved himself a Who-worthy replacement for Keith Moon. Bassist Pino Paladino was great, he looks like my English teacher.

Song everyone in our group wish they'd played: Substitute was on my mum's mind, maybe cause we were listening to it in the car on the way there. But I love the lyrics "I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth". I also missed Kids Are Alright.

Best time when I thought Pete was smiling at me: There was one time he was playing the guitar and singing, and I swear he looked directly at me so I smiled at him, and he was smiling too. Okay, so maybe he wasn't smiling back. But still! Who couldn't resist to smile at a scruffy-haired fourteen year old with a black London Calling t-shirt. I'm pretty sure he smiled at me some other times too... and once I gave him a thumbs-up, after he said something, and I'm sure he smiled at me then. =).

Overall: Even if they're old, they still put on a great show. It was awesome seeing them so close, and this was a fun experience.


Barbara Bruederlin said...

That sounds like it was a great show. Those were pretty amazing seats you had, chubby pot smokers not withstanding.

One time at the folk festival I was an arm's length from the stage at a Weakerthan's set. Okay so it wasn't the Who, but to me it was. And when I waved at John K Samson he waved back to me, albeit with a slightly puzzled look on his face.

Gary said...

I went over to London to see Pete at his Oceanic studios. His partner Rachel Fuller had organized an event called Basement Jam. I was one of 60 people lucky enough to get a ticket. Anyhow, when he was speaking to us, he made eye contact and when he was speaking that moment he thanked the people who had come a great distance to see then, we had flown from Los Angeles. Anyhow, your post resonated with me, it really did feel like he recognized me and made eye contact with me. It was quite a moment. We're going to see them on Nov 4th in LA and I am very excited about it.

Have you ever watched Rachel Fuller's webcast "In The Attic"?

Here is her blog

Here are the episodes that are archived.

They usually do these every week from Pete's studios.

hilary m. said...

It was amazing, I kept thinking "Is that really Pete Townshend, 30 feet away from me?".

It would be great to see the Weakerthans that close too. John K. Sampson's such a nice guy, I would totally wave at him. Or give him a thumbs up. Or smile. =). They totally notice when you're smiling...

That would've been a great experience Gary, I've heard of Rachel Fuller, isn't she also a musician of some sort? Pete seems to be really good with audiences after all these years. He's still so grateful. I hope you have a great time at the concert in LA! I've been reading the backs of some of the shirts, they're touring like crazy.

668 aka neighbour of the beast said...

i totally believe pete townshend smiled at you...why not? :)

i find that when people think that someone onstage is looking at them, they usually are right.

hilary m. said...

I believe it too N.O.B!!!

Petwofan said...

This is what Pete said about:

"A Man In A Purple Dress"

“After watching Mel Gibson’s harrowing 2004 film The Passion of the Christ I immediately wrote three songs. This was one of them. It is not so much a rail against the principles of justice through the ages, but a challenge to the vanity of the men who need to put on some kind of ridiculous outfit in order to pass sentence on one of their peers. It is the idea that men need dress up in order to represent God that appalls me. If I wanted to be as insane as to attempt to represent God I’d just go ahead and do it, I wouldn’t dress up like a drag-queen.”

ozzie said...

Fucking Brilliant darling! I'm very happy you had that experience, and you rule for writing it up and sharing!!!

Mark said...

Great review, I love when todays youth sees The Who and realizes how great this band still is with just 2 members pushing medicare eligibility. A 4th row experience will last a lifetime, I was lucky this year and sat 4th, 6th and front row for3 of the 7 shows I attended. keep on rocking!

Sara said...

Welcome to the camp, my dear! Great to be acknowledged by Petey!

I've had a crush on Roger Daltrey since I was 13. In fact, we played catch with a teddy bear at the Who's second TD Banknorth Garden gigs in Boston last month. You'll find a picture of yours truly holding that bear with my fiance, Tommy, on my blog.

Again, beautiful story. And here's a cool group:

See ya there!


Mike S said...

Fantastic accounts of your experience seeing The Who.
I went to 14 shows this tour
and I am still on cloud 9.
I've wish they would come
back in August like they
had originally planned.

I gaurantee you Hilary,that
Pete was staring and smiling
at you.He loves the feedback
from his audience and often
does smile,snarl,growl,laugh
and cringe at his fans.I know
this because I have been to
40 WHO shows since 1982 and
I have been having the same
kind of reactions from Pete
many of times.It's fun isnt
it? :)

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