Monday, July 15, 2002 @ 4:33 PM
The Who Tour -- Sans The Late
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REVIEW BY: Kimberly Thompson
...and then there were Two.
The houselights went down, then the stage lights went up. Pete and Roger came onstage in all black, Pete also wearing black sunglasses. We all stood up and gave them an ovation as they hugged each other onstage. We didn't sit down for the next two hours as the band played many of their best songs.
I was in Who Heaven, treated to the wonderful classics that drew me to the band, and a few gems I hadn't seen played live before.
Like many other fans, I thought this wonderful ride was over on Thursday. I was surprised, and a little unsure of how to feel when they'd announced that the Bowl show would be the tour opener, and that Pino would stand in. I took it hard watching the show and seeing some other "bloke" in John's spot onstage. I'm sure I wasn't alone in feeling that way. It reminded me of a loss I didn't want to face. John is such a huge part of the Who's trademark sound. However, Pino was honored by the crowd with applause whenever he was shown on the video screens. Pete and Roger thanked him a couple of times for coming and helping them out in their time of need with only two days rehearsal. What an unenviable position he is in. He was a little stiff, and stood in the shadows for the first few songs, but was very capable. One can only hope he will relax and stretch out as the tour progresses. He got a nice round of applause during "My Generation"s trademark bass runs. The only complaint I had about Pino was that he wasn't loud enough. Hopefully this will be remedied in future shows.
Rounding out the rest of the stage personnel are amazing drummer Zak Starkey, who most are thinking must have the middle name "son of Ringo." He is wonderful, and has given the Who new life, and a new generation of fans. Supporting Pete on guitar and vocals is his own brother Simon, who will tour with them. John "Rabbit" Bundrick played keyboards for them, as he's done for the past 20 plus years.
Pete was on fire tonight, taking his emotions to his guitar as we had hoped. I was looking for a little auto-destruction on that red Stratocaster he wielded, but alas it didn't come to fruition. No worries though, as he leaped and wind-milled on every power chord, showing us the power these wonderful songs still hold. I commented to other fans in my row "they sure can still rock hard for a bunch of old geezers."
The show opened with three early hits, "I Can't Explain," followed by "Substitute," then "Anyway Anyhow Anywhere." Roger then came forward and announced that "John's spirit is in all the music we play," before stepping back from the mic, visibly emotional. They then went straight into a rousing version of "Who Are You" in which we all sang the backing vocals with them.
Roger's voice was very strong tonight, as evident in "Love Reign O'er Me," a wonderful strong emotional song from Quadrophenia. He poured his heart and soul into every song, and as I looked around, it seemed everyone in the crowd was singing along with him, channeling it back onto the stage.
There were light moments tonight, as Pete pointed out how he'd never noticed the large white globes in the Hollywood Bowl's stage shell before. It was quite funny as he commented how it appeared like they were in a "giant white vagina," "back in the womb" and how the balls looked like huge testicles. "It's a sperm factory," he said, as the crowd erupted in laughter. Another fun moment was when Pete shined some attention at their long-suffering road manager Bob Pridden, and pointed out their onstage "hand-signals" to the crowd. Roger pointed out how the raised middle-finger means "you fucked something up." Pete also overused Bob's favorite phrase "it's not my fault," which drew more laughs.
Some songs which hadn't made an appearance in recent tours made an appearance tonight, such as "Another Tricky Day" in which Roger forgot the last verse. Pete later messed up the first verse in "Eminence Front," another song which hasn't been played on tour in some years. Roger donned an electric guitar on this one. The real gems which came out tonight included "The Relay" from the aborted Lifehouse film project which evolved into the classic album Who's Next, "Sea and Sand" from Quadrophenia, and a nice Tommy section of "Amazing Journey,"
"Sparks," "See Me, Feel Me," and "Listening To You" in the encore. Pete was taking it all out on his poor red abused Stratocaster, and treated us all to a classic "birdman" moment where he just lets the guitar roar while he holds both arms out. This moment truly illustrated their onstage power for me.
All in all, this was the show I was hoping for. Two full hours of Pete and Roger delivering the goods, and their emotions in the music. The crowd was giving them 1000% support, and they fed off it. It wasn't a sad wake, but a rousing tribute to John. There was a video montage shown prior to the show, which included video from the recent rehearsals at Pete's home in London. Each time John was shown, there were cheers and applause. At the end, there were photos of John shown on the giant screens. Pete and Roger stood watching this before they waved and walked off.
Noticeably absent were the extended jam sessions we were treated to in 2000. No "Magic Bus" and no "5:15" bass solo, not that there should have been. Sure there are holes, the largest of which is the absence of John. The good thing is that Pino wasn't expected to re-enact those solos. He is there to do a job, not to imitate John's style. I don't know how they will compensate with such a huge loss in their sound, I only hope they can. Tonight they showed that they are on their way to achieving that goal.
Long live rock. Long live The Who.
Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere
Who Are You
Another Tricky Day
Sea and Sand
Love Reign O'er Me
Behind Blue Eyes
You Better, You Bet
The Kids Are Alright
Won't Get Fooled Again
See Me Feel Me/Listening To You