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Wednesday, October 11, 2006


The Who at the Rose Garden - 10/10/06

Despite being born well after all the bands of my parent's generation lost their cultural influence and relevance, the majority of albums in my collection have their copyrights firmly planted in the late '60s/early-to-mid '70s. Homer Simpson once said, "Everyone knows rock n' roll attained perfection in 1974. It's a scientific fact." I've got to agree with him. In my eyes, ears and lower intestines, nothing the industry has produced in the last thirty years can hold an elevated Bic lighter to the likes of Beggars Banquet, Led Zeppelin I, Quadrophenia or any number of other records I'd rather be listening to than whatever the writers at Pitchfork are gushing over this afternoon. That's not to say I frown on everything recorded after 1979 but can anyone name me an album made in the last 25 years that tops Abbey Road? Or Axis: Bold as Love? Or Sticky Fingers?

With that out of the way, now you know why I went to see the Who last night at the Rose Garden. Two hours of a nearly bald Pete Townsend doing windmills and a Roger Daltrey that looks more like Tom Jones than this guy.Here's the weird part: the crowd? Half Boomers, half teenagers.

And these were unaccompanied teens that weren't dragged along by their elders. They were all over the place, in groups of three or four and I don't think they paid upwards of $60 to see the opening act. A pimply kid with long hair in an old army jacket knew the lyrics to all the Who's standards. Watching someone that young sing the words "hope I die before I get old" along with a 62-year old Daltrey? I wonder what the frontman circa 1967 would have thunk of that. Would he be amused at the thought of himself forty years down the road singing those words? Or would he have put a gun to his head after recording Who's Next?

I've been to a lot of dinosaur rock shows in the last decade and I've never seen a crowd like this. A few rows down I spotted a circle of high school kids awkwardly dance next to guy who could easily qualify for Social Security. During an encore consisting of random tracks from Tommy, he took an enormous hit off a hidden pipe, raised his arms in a V formation and spewed out a cloud of smoke worthy of Mount St. Helens. Grandparents and sophmores that should have been at home studying for the SATS, side by side, shouting the words "MEET THE NEW BOSS, SAME AS THE OLD BOSS!" Maybe someone outside was hosting a game of "Kick the Can" ala the Spielberg segment from The Twilight Zone movie. That's the only explanation I can come up with.

Like many shows along these lines, Daltrey and Townsend, who brought along Ringo Starr's kid to play the drums, mixed their new songs with all the tracks that have appeared on any number of car commercials over the years. They even delved into Jimi Hendrix's stuff. At one point Townsend oddly broke into the opening riff from "Foxy Lady" and sung a few verses from "All Along the Watchtower." Like a recent issue of Rolling Stone put it, his once death-defying jump is more of a bunny-hop these days but he can still play a guitar like, what' the old cliche? Nobody's business. Yeah, that's it.

No one smashed any guitars but Daltrey broke a set of tambourines at one point and proved he can still swing around his microphone around like a whip. He huffed and puffed through "Won't Get Fooled Again" but still managed to pull off the "YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!" hell scream at the end.

I wonder if reunion tours in the year 2030 are going to look like this. Will anyone pay to see a 60+ year old Eddie Vedder perform "Jeremy"? Will anyone be able to handle a Coldplay, Outkast, Strokes or *shudder* Paris Hilton reunion tour?

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