I always sit behind THAT couple, The Who @ Holmdel,NJ 2006

I guess it is bad luck but as the guy next to me told me. “I know you said you always get stuck behind the making out couple” pointing at the couple sitting front of me “but this is ridiculous.”  In front of me the attractive blonde woman was now going down on the guy she was making out with. Few things are less romantic than a Who concert. For me their music always seemed to speak to the angry lost adolescent, the disaffected and the tormented by whatever in life, not love and romance. Then again, the other occasions were the same. The Henry Rollins spoken word show was not very romantic, yet there was a couple getting it on in front of me. The Blonde Redhead/ Interpol show was worse. I had a date to that one but the girl wasn’t into me and vice versa, yet, a couple was right in front me getting it on. I can say I did see The Who, and they were on a mission.

They were on two missions actually, one was to test drive their new songs in public, the other is to influence at least one 11 year old in some town somewhere, to pick up a guitar, a mic or a set of drum sticks and play because of their show. This is bound to happen at least once on this tour. Both missions were commendable, but the majority of the crowd were looking to here The Who play their

golden oldies, over and over and over again. If they hadn’t made a new album, I was going to feel sorry for them in spite of the fact I spent $200 to sit there. They started the show same way since (Who knows, they don’t) with “Can’t Explain”. then “The Seeker” then the new stuff was mixed in. I can’t call the music bad. I imagine “It’s Hard” sounded real bad back in the day. It will take some getting used to. Played next to their show stoppers, they just didn’t work well. The crowd appreciated it though. The drunken couple sat down which meant I could sit down, the wormy old man with the same height of James Arness to his credit stopped swaying in his place and sat down. For a moment, everyone sat down while Roger and Pete dueted a song. I then remembered what Pete Townshend said in an interview on a video I had seen. He said that he hated playing “Dreaming from the Waist” because Daltrey would look at him on stage and Pete felt that Daltrey sort of edging toward a singer songwriter (Everly Brothers) feel on stage. Pete changed his views since 1994, because that’s what they looked like up there. What choice did they have? they were on a mission.

Being on a mission, the Who’s point of the show was not on the emotional angst in their older music (I don’t think the band cares to remember the pain of their youth, why celebrate it and trot it around forever?). Their mission was not my goal to going. I wore my wartime coat specifically in honor of the hero of “Quadrophenia.” My favorite album of the Who, the album that was not touched on once during the show, a close second for me is another neglected album, “By Numbers.” You can’t always get what you want, and if the stones think I’ll spend $500 to see them in AC so they can blow off “Beggars Banquet” they ought to cut back on the blood transplants.

Their sound was good, the songs were getting worn out but it was good to hear some strange ones thrown in, if only to keep Pete and Roger interested. After awhile, I imagine someone could get sick of playing “Won’t Get Fooled Again” after 35 years. If that were Miles Davis, he would have went mad (he was doing rap music on his last studio album, that’s a long way from “So What”). Granted I am not the biggest fan of “Can’t Explain”, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, “Behind Blue Eyes” and Baba O’Reilly, if anything I was hoping to relive the thrill of first hearing “Who’s Next” back when I was young, angry and always alone in high school. This point leads into something that went wrong for me at this show.

The Who were on a mission and that was to influence just one kid in every town to start playing because of them. I am sure they will succeed, they are not playing in front of anyone at 4:01pm now on a Saturday afternoon, this I am sure (they’re still in Jersey), but at this moment someone is likely getting into playing or singing because of what they are hearing on one of their albums. I suppose the problem is, they have changed and that is a good thing. How can anyone carry the feelings they had of youth and portray them and their songs linked to their dark memories with the same feeling? Their is something sick about that if you think about it. I guarantee, the last song you will ever be likely to hear Neil Young play live is “Motion Pictures”, or “Tired Eyes”. “Quadrophenia” was a tribute to who made the Who big, but there was alot of the youthful, anger of someone always alone in that album that I can still relate to. “By Numbers” was about dissatisfaction of being at the top of your game and looking down at the fall that is inevitable. Is that were the booze came into the picture? When you know you are going to fall anyway? Do it , but have some fun. Or I got this far fucking around, why not keep going and I will never fail. Perhaps that is the sober versus the drunken mentality. At any rate, they lost the feelings and grew up. If anything, the Spinal Tap joke does not work for them. They aren’t trying to hold on to some thing in the past. If anything, I am more of a preserved moose at 28 than they are these days, and yes I admit that it is pathetic. We can’t all be young and pissed off forever.


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