AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS – July 2, 2015 – Ziggo Dome
Well, after the sweatbox in Paris (which we all agreed was harder on everyone than the two previous Festivals), we traveled to Amsterdam, arriving mid-evening. Some short time to explore the city of canals and bicycles. It’s a great place to visit, with that rather distinctive mix of styles you find in European port cities: Amsterdam, Liverpool, Hamburg, etc. You got a nice selection of world imports mixed with your host city’s flavor.
The Ziggo Dome is a very modern arena, big loading areas, clean and well thought-out. It’s beautiful and stylish, with good-quality food and drink compared to most venues. They even put a restroom right near the stage – a sure sign someone is thinking! Our tour accountant was pleased with not only a room with a window (for a change) but a full wall of windows with beautiful views of the sunset. And AIR CONDITIONING; wonderful, these luxuries! It promises to be a “normal” show again!
This is also our final show with The Last Internationale opening, the American rock trio. As in Paris, they really won over the crowd, a tough thing to do. With Joan Jett, Pretenders, The Cult – any of the known bands we’ve had supporting us – it’s easy for the audience to like a band you’ve heard before. Newcomer groups usually face a hard time opening for a big Who-level band. This audience clapped and even sang along to the new songs, not quite as wild as in Paris, but damn good results. TLI singer Delilah told the crowd that they were already Who fans, but are more so now, having seen the band working up close and personal. They’d been impressed by the big band’s effort put in daily to make the show and sound better each time. We’ll keep an eye and ear out for The Last Internationale in the future…
Amsterdam’s Ziggo Dome has great sightlines, both for the audience and the band. It’s that “festival seating” (standing crowd on a flat floor). But instead of the long distant floor you see in an American sports-based arena, this was built with stage performances in mind, so the seats around and in back are closer and go up steeper; everyone ends up with a great view, and the band can see the crowd in greater detail. As always, the audience’s return reaction drives the show…
Opening with ‘Who Are You’, the band leaned more toward the recent festival show setlist, avoiding lesser-known numbers like ‘A Quick One (While He’s Away)’. But the slightly shorter show allows them a bit more energy per-piece, so the show stays powerful all the way through. It wasn’t lack of Who-knowledge they feared with an audience like this and the more-Nordic countries in particular, which have a long history with The Who. It seemed like many came in from Belgium and even Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden for this one.
Typically though, it was a more polite audience. They were wild, but in a controlled way. Still a mix of ages, but a lot of the grey-haired ones down front. Not a problem, as they do thrash about during ‘My Generation’ as anyone else would. Highly unusual was solid hand-clapping during ‘Bargain’, which is not usually a hand-clapping type of song, but they liked it and did it anyway!
One interesting and telling moment happened, as someone yelled out between songs (I will paraphrase until I get the exact wording); “We love you Pete!!” He answered back – “I love me too.” But then he elaborated: “I realize I really didn’t love myself that much before. And I’ve come to realize that many of you are here because you don’t love yourselves so much either.” It’s an interesting concept; the healing power of music (through writing, performance, and audiences’ wild abandon) is something Pete personally believes in quite a bit, as do I. Catharsis of many shades and colors happens nightly.
‘Join Together’ – being a song about joining in unison “with the band” would have been rather hard tonight, as it was the sloppiest version we’ve heard! Best not to use this one as a good example. Of course, the root of it is that juggernaut bass-line from Pino (which is actually a John Entwistle line – which is probably Pete’s guitar line down looooow.) One of the few funky sides of The Who we have (the other obvious one being ‘Eminence Front’.)
“Playing with it” as they do to some songs, the show changes perceptibly each night. ‘My Generation’ has extended to nearly twice the length it was at the start of the tour, harkening back to the ’70s when it evolved into other songs after the “usual bit” was played.
At the end of the recent shows, Pete has been introducing the players one by one, just before the final song. (Nicely handled, as they used to forget this now and then!) Then, after the final song, Roger’s been introducing everyone again – but adding in Pete – who then also thanks Roger. Nice to get Pete/Rog in there, but hearing two band introductions (“outro-ductions”?) within six minutes has been kind of odd. After this second intro, Roger’s taken to talking about the “50 years” concept of this tour. However, the talking loses the huge rush/blast after a final song, and all the cheering and clapping ends in silence as people stop to listen to the message. Pete’s visibly grown tired of this soft ending, and literally walked offstage as Roger started chatting… though to come back posing humorously and playing “air violin” when Roger eventually came around to thanking him. Hopefully, they’ll work out this trouble – as it’s a STRONG closer to simply end the set with ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ each night. Although the talking is wonderful, it’s not as powerful as a nice bow and “Thank You… goodnight!!”
End of the longest “short tour” we’ve ever done. Seems like months – and only six shows! Yet it’s certainly a great tour this year. A really classic set of songs and strengths. Looking forward to America in the Fall… and then – WHO knows? Really, it’s still up in the air; from what I’ve heard, people have different opinions and hopes for what might go on. As we’ve come to say “It will all change, then change again before it happens…”