1 Mar 2016 – Air Canada Centre
There is some history to that joke, as the end of the famous WHO Farewell Tour in 1982 was in Toronto, I do believe. And it’s also been a longtime WHO tradition to end many North American tours here as well. The ’82 Farewell Tour was one of the first of its kind in music (since then many bands announcing this or that retirement/ending, with usually not even pausing afterward) although if one looks it up, ‘farewell’ only means ‘goodbye at parting’, not ‘we’re done forever’.
But it was neither the last WHO show ever tonight, nor even the end of a tour: “We’ll be back in a month!” reminded Rog. About true, as we’re booked here again on the next leg of the tour!
It was a snowy night for celebration, as it was a very public birthday for Roger Daltrey, who turned 72 tonight! A big slide of ‘ROGER HITS 72!’ beamed onto the big screen, and everyone cheered, stopping just short of singing the birthday tune. Pete noted that as we’re in Canada, the birth-day would be shared with Canadian Justin Bieber! And then Pete dedicated the next song to Justin – ‘The Kids Are Alright’.
Another Tricky Day…?
Today was definitely one, a tricky day. Not really bad, but there was trouble to get things going and keep things right. From the get-go, Pete was visibly unhappy with sounds from his guitars and amps. This continued off and on for most of the set, and seriously affected his mood at times. It’s just hard to ‘let go’ and explore musically when the sound is not quite there. Various guitars were changed, and even the full amp stack was taken away and replaced with another mid-set trying to get a better tone; a lot of work, but no luck. (Reminds me of one previous show in Summer 2000, when Pete’s amp was being changed, and Roger said “Pete, I think you really enjoy it when men come out and handle your equipment!” Pete [never a good one to challenge verbally!] said “Roger, at least I HAVE equipment!”)
Later in the show, Pete said “I’ve found out why my amps weren’t sounding right, they weren’t LOUD ENOUGH!!” to a massive cheer. However, Pete is quite careful with his stage level, partly for his hearing, the mix balances, and not to drown out Roger’s voice onstage. Turning up the amps is not really the answer…
One thing we’ve noticed over the years is when either Pete or Roger is down a bit during the show (emotionally or technically) the other pulls extra effort to carry the show and make up for whatever is lacking elsewhere. If Roger’s having trouble hearing or with smoke in the room, it’s almost certain Pete will have a better show, and be a lot more exuberant than usual. Similarly tonight, as Pete was having issues and confusion onstage, Roger remained in a strong, good mood and worked the crowd as much as possible.
Although the Toronto people gave a huge shout when the band came out, they remained mostly a polite, listening audience afterward. Not a bad thing, this is music full of great melody and lyrics, so it’s as good to just listen as to jump around and yell. Roger thought the audience was particularly good at singing along and encouraged it quite a bit; ‘WHO Karaoke’, he called it.
‘Love Reign O’er Me’ finally pulled everyone up out of their seats. Not a heavy rocker, but powerful in all the dramatic ways. Roger’s vocals have been incredible on this new leg for this one. And Roger’s not the only one excelling, Zak’s drumming has been in the best form we’ve seen in ages. He’s on fire and driving the shows throughout, with excess healthy energy.
Pete even got down to his hands and knees to try to adjust his pedals and save the sound toward the end. Eventually, as the big explosive numbers finished off the show, everyone was in full-on mode, audience and band. Another tricky day, but it eventually worked!
Special thanks to our good friend and photographer William Snyder, who supplied the “good photos” today!