The Who Pound The Woodwork by Jim Girard
The evening began with the somewhat dramatic and overripe Holy Smoke Doo Dah Band and ended with a private party for The Who at THE AGORA. Somewhere in between was two hours of The Who at Public Hall. My heart is still recovering from the shock of it; The Who have once again left me speechless (almost).
The aisles were lined with members of The Ohio Judo and Karate Ass'n., which Belkin hired in another attempt to subdue some of the chaos which YOU are capable of causing. I was more than glad to see that extra precautions were being taken for this concert. And until Townshend and Moon pounced onto Public Hall's stage, I had hopes that they might work.
From the moment "Love Ain't For Keeping" began, ten thousand other people and myself were in another world. Even the most cunning of security guards couldn't stop that feeling that overcomes one when The Who begin their ritual of aggression. I could not take my eyes off the stage which held four of the most powerful maniacs in popdom.
Peter Townshend was in one of his rare stupers and he commented that his previous evening (which was quite an experience I am told) was wild. . He warned and gave the signal for chaos when he screamed: "We're gonna pound the woodwork out of this stage." If only he'd remembered that you don't tease Clevelanders that way: So, from that moment on, few people were seated, few were not cheering and most were mesmerized. Of course, instead of letting this bother him, it was only a stimulus for him to sweat, cut his hand, bleed and gyrate for the entire show (he'd probably have done it anyway, I guess).
1 have heard The Who several times over the past four years and they get younger, wilder, more arrogant and tight every time. The old songs; e.g., "Substitute," "I Can't Explain," "My Generation," "Magic Bus" and "Pinball Wizard " kept the adrenaline. flowing between newer numbers from their new WHO'S NEXT Lp.
As expected, they played "Won't Get Fooled Again" and probably gave the only successful light show in rock history .The visual impact was aided by the taped ARP Synthesizer which, I can honestly state, made the studio versions seem sterile.
The words of "Won't Get Fooled Again" may have not been fully felt. If you were there, recall Daltrey saying with ease:
"We'll be fighting in the street
with our children at our feet
And the morals to be worshipped will be gone
And the man who spurred us on
sits in judgment of our wrong
They decide and the shotgun sings the song."
You KNOW what the message is, you know what the moral is and Townshend later mentions being liberated. So, tell me why in the hell was everyone pushing and fighting to get closer to them? They are only people and like you and I they communicate much better when not treated as freaks. This is not a lesson in behavior, but you did put them on the spot. Case in point: when Townshend had to threaten about encores -"…'Daddy Rolling Stone' and when we say THE LAST SONG, we mean THE last song." Once again, he could only avert a screaming series of encores by relying in destruction and I know for a fact that he didn't dig it. Yet, he did give all of us the best show of the year.
There was a solemn moment in the concert and I don't know how many people caught it. During the beautiful song from their new album, "Behind Blue Eyes," Peter was picking and strumming in a reflective manner as Roger sang his words: "No one knows what it's like to be the bad man, to be the sad man – behind blue eyes…but my dreams they all are empty…" Y ou could almost feel him take a breath of air, straighten his face and play a little louder. He had shown a side of him never before present in a Who concert. When someone is singing a part of the life you have lived; it is a moving and sad experience (and very much an alien in a Who concert).
Keith Moon could not be contained by his drums. He also, being obnoxious by nature, introduced some of the songs, plugged the new album and gave Peter an affectionate sign telling him what to do with himself; a mild sort of idiosyncrasy I had thought (after seeing him later that evening. Moon is the best and most masterful maniac-drummer in the world. Ginger Baker couldn't even come close.
Roger Daltrey was the focal point for the females and the bearer of an endless series of vocal fluxuations. He is still as hairy and concise as ever.
John, the proverbial statue, Entwistle played the wall of sound which is only a Fender bass and a couple Sunn amps. As a bass player, John is purposefully simple and plays with more accents and harmonics than anyone else; A master to be sure.
At the invitation of Agora owner, Hank LaConti, I attended a party for The Who after the show. I was skeptical at first because parties of these sort are notoriously lengthy, and I had a lot to do the next day. Well, I was really scared about the whole thing and feared getting bit by Townshend or something.
After waiting with my lady and another couple for about an hour, Keith Moon appeared. His coherency was not affected by his thirst, and thankfully, Keith sat with us for a moment. After making a remark about Peter's temperament and a promise to introduce him (when he came), he left for bigger and better things – the bar.
Another half-hour passed and suddenly Peter Townshend and John Entwistle rambled in the room with Chris Stamp and Kit Lambert (their producers, road managers and friends). Townshend had little to say and conversation was limited to a "yes and no" basis with an occasional smile. He was no mood to be interviewed and with all respect for his evening's work, I let it go at that.
Roger Daltrey did not attend and it was rumored that it was due to an argument following the show. The strains of the tour were showing again and nerves were, seemingly, on end. Working with someone as closely and as long as The Who have, a certain pattern must evolve to limit long range effects of disagreements.
There was no dramatic ending to the party and with the nervous energy that Moon, Townshend and Co. live on, during a tour, one could hardly expect one.
Chris Stamp, manager and producer of The Who, said that the entire story about Keith Moon and George Harrison touring with The Beach Boys is false. He let the comment go with a simple statement: "They wanted some publicity, some cheap P.R. and the papers bought the story."
So, another Who concert has come and gone. This one was, for me, more memorable than the others. And with another year of concert seasons gone. The Who have changed my life, once again, just a little.
In the past years, at the close of their concerts, Roger has always promised to return. This time the somewhat token ritual was omitted. I hope that this is no indication that their unrest is anything more than temporary.
I hope not, because tbey are too much a part of our lives.