Who Are We
Tonight I witnessed something that I can only describe as epic.
When it was announced 1.5 years ago that The Who were coming, I was excited and quickly won tickets to the show. They were no longer really relevant to anyone under 40, but they were a symbol of my youth even though they broke up when I was 16 years old. Many, many years were spent listening to their records while smoking doobies.
When the concert was rescheduled, I wasn’t especially disappointed – it would happen when it happened. And when it finally came to pass, I almost gave it a pass! The day before the concert I was tired and uninspired, and I posted the tickets on Craig’s List. I was asking for a trade – my Who tickets for Selena Gomez tickets. Oh calm down, I now realize how foolish that was!
As luck would have it, no one had Selena tickets to trade. So I kicked myself in the butt and dragged my ass into the shower – I was going to this effing show! I needed to snap out of this funk I’ve been in, and a good concert was just what I needed.
Little did I know that it was going to blow me away so utterly, so completely, so unbelievably.
After they quietly entered ON TIME, they launched into Who Are You. The crowd went wild. After that first song, Pete Townshend said “we have a lot to say, but we didn’t come here to talk!” and off they went – hit after hit after hit.
I can’t tell you what songs they were – they sang some songs that I didn’t even know were theirs! “Momma’s Got a Squeeze Box” for one. If you asked me who sang that I would just shrug – I had no idea! Hah! And I’m almost ashamed to admit that I always thought “My Generation” was a Beatles song. *snicker*
But to be fair, it’s been over 30 years since I listened to these songs regularly. And most of that time I was high on one thing or another, so distinguishing between Pink Floyd, Supertramp, and The Who was the job for the guy changing the record, not me.
There were more than a few songs that I didn’t know the words to, but I knew the melodies and banged my head accordingly. I’m not sure even Roger knew the words to some of those songs – there was some mumbling, but maybe it was just the fading mike and the accent.
Pete – arguably the best guitarist on the planet – joked about his age but he didn’t slip up. Not once. In fact, when his tech guys screwed up, he stopped the song and said “not until I’m ready!” When they restarted, he said “yet again!”, implying that they had screwed up the beginning of the song once again. Peter must be the only one that noticed. I hope no one got fired after the show!
I never had a thing for Roger Daltrey like most of my girl friends, he wasn’t my type. But I gotta tell ya – that barrel-chested, grey-haired, no-necked, white-dentured badass was HAWT! I have a whole new appreciation for the tambourine – he played it expertly, and it was so distinctive in the music that it would’ve sounded empty without it. He can’t move his head, but he sure moved ME!
And that drummer – Zak Starkey – all lit up like an angel in his white, high-collared shirt. He was practically glowing, but his face belied a devilish imp that vexed me with every beat. I was at once repulsed and captivated by his evil expressions, mesmerized by his pout and his glittering sweat and soaked shirt. He was a masterpiece framed by a lit-up drum kit.
If I hadn’t gone to the show, I wouldn’t have known what I had missed. But now that I’ve been, I feel sorry for everyone who missed out. There was no grandstanding. They weren’t old dudes trying to look and act young. There were no backup singers, no dancers, no fire. Nothing else was needed.
I didn’t see a show tonight. I didn’t see a rock concert. I saw iconic musicians, skilled artists, consummate professionals who granted me permission to watch them create magic.
The Who are we. They are a part of me, a part of you, a part of everyone who heard them in the past 50 years. They shaped my world then, and they rocked my world tonight.
I am in awe. I am grateful.
And I may be a little stoned from all the herb in the arena…