I received a press release yesterday about which I have enormously mixed emotions. Because on the one hand, The Who is my Favorite Rock and Roll Band of All Time, precariously perched just one rung above The Clash. I've experienced The Who in myriad iterations -- at Reunion in the summer of '80, during its last-gasp farewell in '82, while covering that big-money comeback but a few years later and several shows after that, the most recent being the 2000 show, once more, at Reunion, witnessed from the third row. I recall my wife was particularly impressed by the well-preserved state of Roger Daltrey's abdomen.
No matter the setting, no matter the lineup, no matter the set list, I never left feeling broken-hearted or betrayed. That's how it is with your favorite band, though, isn't it? They can do no wrong, even if sometimes it doesn't feel quite right. Except...
There was the one night in the summer of 1998 when I thought we were through, The Who and I -- well, Daltrey, anyway. He pulled into the Bronco Bowl on August 1, 1998, with something called The British Rock Symphony, a massive orchestra consisting mostly of young musicians performing classic rock hits of the '60s and '70s. It was a benefit tour, on behalf of VH1's Save the Music. Daltrey told me beforehand he didn't want to do it, that he was guilted into it.
I rounded up a few folks to see the show -- some local musicians and writer pals. We got there during "A White Shade of Pale." There were maybe a couple hundred people scattered around a room that held around 3,500. It was hard to tell through the blinding laser-light show and choking clouds of smoke. We stuck around long enough to hear a few Who tunes, which sounded anemic without Pete Townshend and John Entwistle to give them spark and muscle. We fled to the Sonic, our love affair with those songs ended, if only for the moment. I reminded one of my ride-alongs last night of the concert; he said he'd tried to erase it from his memory.
Which I mention only because of that press release: On Thursday, you will be able to purchase tickets for Roger Daltrey's return -- to the Verizon Theatre on October 12, when he will perform, in its entirety, Tommy, which has been resurrected more times than Krishna. Simon Townshend will be there. Pete will not. He says he's on-board: "I will be there in spirit. Roger has my complete and most loving support. Roger is touring his unique concert version of Tommy using his faithful presentation of the original work as the backbone for a set of wider material. It is wonderful to hear the way Roger and his new band re-interpret the old Who songs."
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I can't imagine. Maybe when Rog was in his heyday -- when the high notes weren't in another room, far out of reach. But not today. And not without Pete. I don't wanna go. I probably will. Is there a Sonic nearby?
But that's months off. Let's look back as we move ahead -- all the way to July 23, 1967, when a band from England came to Dallas to play Memorial Auditorium downtown. I cannot find the keeper version, but someone has posted to YouTube the entirety of The Who's nine-song show from that summer's night -- from "Substitute" to "My Generation," recorded long before they got old.
Jump, but mind the feedback.
"Pictures of Lily"
"So Sad About Us"
"Boris the Spider"
"I'm a Boy"