8.6.14

THE WHO, New Bingley Hall, Stafford, October 3 & 4, 1975. Part 1 - Moonie On The Pull.

I was back in the UK again towards the end of 1975, having another break from New York. On October 3 & 4, The Who played two shows at the New Bingley Halls near Stoke-on-Trent, both of which I reviewed for Melody Maker, staying overnight at the same hotel as the group, all bar Pete that is who opted to stay elsewhere. Largely because it was the opening night of a tour and they were a bit rusty, and also playing a newly sequenced set, the first show had its faults but, as ever, The Who's vast experience enabled them to power through and the crowd went away happy. There were some adjustments to the set list for the second night, which was well nigh perfect.
        What I also recall from that weekend is that the drummer behaved quite shamelessly on the opening night in his attempts to gain the favours of a spectacularly lovely young lady he met backstage. She was blonde and dressed to kill in a short white dress and stiletto heels, and when Keith clocked her, post-gig adrenalin rushing through his veins, his libido went into overdrive. Within minutes he'd skilfully separated her from the bloke she was with, her fiancĂ© as it turned out, by inviting them both back to the hotel for a drink but asking her if she'd like a ride in his Roller. Would she ever! Calculating that her bloke couldn't join them in the Roller as he would have to drive their own car, Keith said they'd meet him back at the hotel and summoned Dougal to take the wheel. I watched all this with experienced eyes, knowing the likely outcome and, sure enough, when I got back to the hotel Keith and his newly acquired amour were nowhere to be seen. The bloke, meanwhile, was pacing the lobby looking a bit peeved.
        Eventually, after about half an hour, Keith came down to the hotel bar with the lady. She looked a bit unsteady on her feet, slightly sheepish, and was a bit giggly too, and was doing her best to appear as if nothing unseemly had occurred. In truth she was glowing, pink-faced, still lovely, and looking for all the world as if she'd just enjoyed the best half-hour of her entire life. I probably wasn't the only one who noticed that Keith was wearing different clothes from those he'd had on when he left the gig. As ever he was full of charm, especially to the bloke, even if there was a touch of the cat that's got the cream about him.
        "What a delightful lady you're engaged to dear boy, absolutely charming," he said to her fiancĂ© as she sat down next to him with as much modesty as she could muster. "You're a very lucky man. We've been watching television, and discussing gardening and foreign travel. I love gardening and we travel a lot with the group you know, especially to America. Have you been there? Fine country, most welcoming. Let me buy you both another drink, more champagne?"
        Keith was hilarious, prattling on, talking rubbish (I doubt he knew a rake from a hoe) to them both. In a gesture of reconciliation she had sought out her boyfriend's hand and was gripping it tightly but his face was set in the kind of uneasy, fixed smile that people adopt when tact is an effort. Of course he couldn't say what might have been on his mind because he was surrounded by people who worked for The Who, who were paid to protect them, so there was no way he could accuse Keith of anything or, heaven forbid, cause any trouble. So he had no choice but to go along with the charade, as did his now slightly tipsy girlfriend, albeit more enthusiastically. It was side-splittingly funny but somehow cruel at the same time.
        In the end they left together, opting to take a taxi since both were a bit worse the wear for drink. As they were leaving Keith shook the man's hand vigorously, sincerely, and gave his girl a chaste kiss on the cheek. "Delighted to have met you both, absolute pleasure. Do come and see us again if we're ever in these parts. Ask for me personally," he said, but I couldn't help but wonder what might have been said between them the following morning when they'd sobered up, and if the relationship survived this brutal intrusion from the whirlwind that was Moon The Loon.
        Tomorrow and the next day I'll post my reviews of both the shows, as I wrote them for MM all those years ago. The second contains a delicately worded allusion to Moonie's behaviour, detailed accounts of such matters being quite inappropriate for the columns of Melody Maker of course. It was a family paper after all. 

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