Photos and words by G.
The Who are celebrating their 50th anniversary as a band by touring and I popped my Who cherry by seeing them perform at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on May 26, 2015. As someone who has seen nearly all living rock and roll legends in concert, I felt I owed it to myself to go check out The Who and here are 10 things I observed while watching their show:
1. Despite being down two (of 4) original members (RIP John Entwistle and Keith Moon), the two that are left – Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend – may be both 70 but they rocked and rocked hard for 2 solid hours with no intermission.
2. The visuals that showed on the screens behind The Who were amazing. Every song had a different trippy pattern and many times, the screens showed highlights of The Who’s amazing 50 year career.
3. While Pete Townshend did not smash any guitars, he did his signature move where he swings his arm in a circular motion while jammin’ out. Seeing him do that move throughout the show (as well as watching Roger Daltrey swing his microphone) are so iconic that it was definitely a show highlight. On the subject of Pete Townshend, he told a lot of funny stories in between songs and poked fun at how old he and Roger are.
4. Despite being in the dreaded Brooklyn, Barclays Center is a really nice venue. The people that work there are always super friendly. The site lines are pretty good unless you have nosebleed seats, in which case, if you have a fear of heights, you will definitely be freaked out. Pete Townshend also gave Brooklyn a nice little dig when he said “it’s good to be back in New York, even if it is Brooklyn.”
5. The ticket said 7:30 pm, and they were not kidding. At 7:30, opener Joan Jett and the Blackhearts promptly took the stage. Joan Jett was great! She did an 11 song set that included “Bad Reputation,” “I Love Rock and Roll,” “Crimson and Clover,” “I Hate Myself For Loving You,” “Light of Day,” and “Cherry Bomb.” Hearing the audience participate in mass sing-a-longs of these tracks was awesome and it was a great taste of what to come when The Who took the stage. As a side note, I think that Joan and I might have been the only gays in the entire building, so I am glad we represented! Also, in between Joan Jett’s set (hey, it rhymes) and The Who, the screens showed a visual history of The Who’s career and they mentioned that Joan Jett recorded her first album at The Who’s studio and she didn’t have any money at the time so she promised to pay back the money (and she did) and also included a Who cover as the b-side of her first single.
6. Like with Joan Jett, The Who have so many classic songs, that even if you think you are sick of them, they sound amazing when an arena full of people are singing them in unison. Some examples of the massive hits played were “Who Are You,” “The Kids Are Alright,” “My Generation,” “Pinball Wizard,” “You Better You Bet,” “Baba O’Riley,” “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and “Eminence Front.”
7. The Who didn’t just play the same old boring setlist (which from my research looks like it varies a little bit for each show). They packed the set with hits, but they also played some lesser known tracks such as the mini-opera “A Quick One (While He’s Away),” “Slip Kid,” “Bargain,” “Sparks,” “Join Together,” and “I’m One.”
8. Roger Daltrey got a ration of shit recently for complaining that people were smoking pot too close to the stage. To not look like such an asshole, before the concert, the above message was shown to the audience explaining that the smoke bothers Roger’s voice and if compromised, the show could be canceled. Roger also addressed this on stage, which made a lot of people roll their eyes. Seems a little on the douchey side, but the message was redeemed when they offered an alternative – “eat one of them funny cakes instead.”
9. The Who mentioned numerous times before, during and after the show that proceeds from selected tour ephemera would be donated to help children fight cancer. Pretty commendable because most merch proceeds from big bands go into building another wing for their mansions.
10. To think that The Who have been performing some of these songs for 50 years is so impressive. They found a way to breathe new life into their older material and as a result, this did not come across as a sad version of a formerly great band. Instead, they rocked harder than many bands who weren’t even born when The Who had their last hit song. If The Who come to your city, should you see them? You better, you better, you bet!
Joan Jett’s set list was:
Bad Reputation / Cherry Bomb / Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah) / You Drive Me Wild / Light of Day / Love is Pain / The French Song / Different / I Love Rock and Roll / Crimson & Clover / I Hate Myself For Loving You
The Who’s set list was:
I Can’t Explain / The Seeker / Who Are You / The Kids Are Alright / I Can See For Miles / My Generation / Behind Blue Eyes / Slip Kid / Bargain / Join Together / You Better You Bet / I’m One / Love, Reign O’er Me / Eminence Front / A Quick One (While He’s Away) / Amazing Journey (with “Captain Walker” snippet from “Overture”) / Sparks / Pinball Wizard / See Me, Feel Me / Baba o’Riley / Won’t Get Fooled Again