Saw The Who last night at the Rose Garden arena. As a life long Who fan (not kidding - by repeated listenings of Tommy, Quadrophenia and Who Are You as a child, these guys helped shape who I am today), I have a hard time writing this review. Because, the concert was a big snore.
For context, I saw "The Who Review" (30 piece band or whatever) three times in 1989 and thought the song selection was great but the backup singers and horn players needed to be killed. I saw Pete on his Psychoderelict tour and it was one of the best shows I have ever seen. I also saw this current Who lineup, except with Entwistle on bass, in the mid 90s when they did Quadrophenia live, and that show kicked major ass too. I also have the recent live DVDs and thought the band SLAYED at the 9/11 and Live 8 concerts, so I had some high expectations.
The band was in good spirits. Lots of laughing and playing around. It was guitar player Simon Townshend's (Pete's brother) birthday as well. They were tight and the extended jams they whipped out in Anyway Anyhow Anywhere, My Generation and Amazing Journey were pretty killer. So what was the problem?
Where do I start? In a classic case of 'be careful what you ask for - you just might get it,' they played a bunch of new songs from their forthcoming album as well as the recent song "Real Good Looking Boy" and I can say with all confidence that all of these songs suck. I have been bitching about The Who regurgitating the same 15 songs live for 20 years, and what do they do? They debut more new songs in one night than they have probably on any tour since 1973. Very ballsy indeed, but THEY ALL SUCKED.
As for the other songs in the set, most of it was standard fare - Behind Blue Eyes, Baba O'Reilly, You Better You Bet - blah blah blah. The only standouts were The Seeker, Who Are You, My Generation, which they jammed on and inserted bits of Cry If You Want into (very, very cool) and the Tommy laden encore. And even here, the only stuff that made my skin tingle was Amazing Journey and Sparks. The rest was just sort of flat. Been there, done that - and all better.
OK, then the little stuff that didn't help. The Rose Garden was about 110 degrees where I was sitting. The Who's light show sucked, unless you think having spotlights shine into your eyes all night is a good light show. Also, aside from some cool photos of the band in the 60s and 70s, the graphics and photos on the screens behind the band were pointless and added nothing. Daltry said zilch, although I must say his voice sounded great. Pete was by far the standout as usual. And I missed Entwistle so much more than I thought I would.
You know, I saw Paul McCartney last year in the Rose Garden and he had the place filled up to the 300 level (which was blocked off last night, by the way). But he made that place feel like my living room. The Who made it feel like - well, a big arena more suited for NBA than Rock N Roll.
What would have helped? Better songs. If they has played more gems, I would have overlooked all of this other crap. Where are songs like Slip Kid, Sea and Sand, Pure and Easy, Bargain, My Wife (would have been a nice tribute to Entwistle), Another Tricky Day, A Hand or A Face, New Song? They even ignored stuff they have been playing off and on over the years like Relay and Join Together. Even if they had played Kids Are Alright or Substitute, I might have enjoyed it more.
Jesus, even KISS knows how to dip into their extensive back catalog better than The Who.
So, you can pre-order DVDs of any Who show on this tour. They will arrive in the mail next year and you can re-live the show forever. You know what? I'm gonna pass.