10.6.14

THE WHO, New Bingley Hall, Stafford, October 3 & 4, 1975, Part 3 - The Second Night

A backstage inquest revealed the problems but there were none of the tantrums that often occur after less than perfect Who concerts.
Moon, for the first time ever, had played his drums from a raised podium, built at a cost of £6,000 especially for this tour. The siting of the podium had apparently meant that his monitor speakers were placed further away from him than normal and throughout most of the show he was only vaguely aware what the rest of the band was playing. The podium was promptly scrapped and it will never be seen on a Who stage again.
Spirits were high at the North Stafford Hotel in Stoke-on-Trent where the band stayed over on Friday evening. Townshend, who, I think, doesn't wholly approve of his group's off-stage activities, chose to stay in Manchester with his wife and friends, and wasn't seen again until the following night.
Two rented Rolls Royce Silver Shadows ferried the three other musicians back to the hotel.
"That wasn't so bad for an opening concert," said Daltrey back at the hotel, nursing a vodka and smoking a cigar. "We haven't played for over a year so there's bound to be a problem or two. It wouldn't be the 'Oo without a problem, would it?
"Just wait till tomorrow. It'll be better. I'm sure. I've given up smoking now – only the odd cigar – so the voice is OK. Pete liked it. He went off in good spirits so there's nothing to worry about."
The unflappable Entwistle, drinking brandy and coke, seemed satisfied, too, and the evening degenerated into a bawdy discussion until the late arrival of Moon who, having spent some time elsewhere in the hotel, appeared with a female companion and a leer that could have been mistaken for the Cambridge rapist.
The young lady, I was informed the next day, retained her virtue but, as I saw for myself, the residents' lounge suffered a certain amount of abuse through injudicious use of a fire extinguisher and Moon's rash decision to swing on the chandelier.
AND SO on to Saturday, which was spent revamping the act to exclude some songs and include others. Despite protests from Moon, 'Bell Boy' was dropped, as was 'Punk And The Godfather'. In their place the band played 'Summertime Blues' and 'Magic Bus' which segued into 'Naked Eye'. The order was changed, too, with the ending coming on 'Won't Get Fooled Again' – a far more satisfactory choice.
Moon's drum podium went out of the door, too, and from the opening notes of the first song – again 'Substitute' – it was apparent that the band were on better form.
Up to the end of Tommy, the act was exactly the same, except that the music flowed with more purpose than it had the previous evening. As the lights were raised at the end of 'See Me, Feel Me', it was also apparent that the hall was fuller than it had been the previous evening, and that the audience of Saturday nighters were a more enthusiastic crowd of fans.
'Summertime Blues' followed Tommy, and retained the momentum of the performance far better than 'Drowned', which followed. Next came '5.15', wisely brought away from the closing sequence, and there followed a curious blues arrangement of 'My Generation', not immediately recognisable until Entwistle's bass solo, which quickened the tempo and drove the song into its more normal form.
Again the band slid directly into 'Join Together', Townshend gently altering the tempo and cleverly conducting the others into the change. A brilliant, lengthened interpretation of 'Magic Bus' – never one of my favourites from The Who catalogue – followed, with Daltrey and Townshend swopping vocals lines across Moon's fierce Bo Diddley back-beat. Eventually, the tension in the rhythm snapped and Townshend spun into a solo while Daltrey demolished a tambourine. Again Townshend took control to turn the song inside out until he found a suitable break to slip into 'Naked Eye'.
The concert finished on 'Fooled', which, like the previous night, was full of crazy power. Townshend leaped the full length of the stage after the taped synthesiser sequence towards the end and ultimately brought matters to a deafening, extended climax. Daltrey, incidentally, remembered the words.
Again there was no encore, even though the reaction justified one, but two hours of music seemed fair value for the price of a ticket.
"What did I tell yer," said Daltrey, grinning insanely after the show and buttoning up a long, fur-lined leather coat. "We'll be OK now. Just you wait till we get to Wembley. We'll show 'em."

I was back in America by the time of the Wembley shows. I didn’t know it but my Who-with-Keith-in-the-band encounters were drawing to a close. I would see Keith play drums for The Who on only three more occasions, in New York, Philadelphia and, finally, in Jacksonville, Florida. 

6 comments:

  1. Hey Chris, love your writing and these posts! Thank you!

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  2. Interested to hear your recollections of the Philly '75 show if you have many - including the full-scale demolition at the end.

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  3. Yes, the show at the Spectrum on December 15 was phenomenal. It was the last show of that particular US tour which explains the destruction. The tools had done their job and were no longer needed. I remember at that show the version of 'Sparks' from Tommy was simply outstanding and the entire audience rose from their seats to applaud, as they would at the end of a show. It was shows like this, and I was lucky to be able to see so many, that convinced me no other live band was ever, or would ever be, in the same league as The Who at their best, and it is a conviction that I have retained ever since. You had to be there, of course, but those that were know what I'm talking about, and why I'm still writing about them.

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  4. A friend of a friend of mine saw the show from the fifth row and was allegedly "ducking cymbal shrapnel" during the destruction. The audience recording from that night illustrates the crowd's wild approval of what I believe was heralded as Philly's best show that year.

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