PHILADELPHIA – Wells Fargo Center
Monday: Mar 14, 2016
Philadelphia! … and the former site of The Spectrum, location of zillions of classic-rock shows with classic-rock bands, including The WHO. The new building is a much more modern arena, cleaner and more comfortable. We’ve certainly been here a few times, too.
Pete came out dressed VERY sharp, with a gleaming-white dinner jacket, porkpie hat, and sunglasses. Shortly after the opening songs, he let on why he was so dressy tonight. “Because I am the only member of The WHO with THE KEYS TO THE CITY!” Indeed, back in 1993 the mayor had given him the official keys. Roger asked him “Do they fit?” Pete said he hadn’t found out what they opened, yet…
Somehow, the show quality has been going up and up on this leg. Sometimes you hit high points and then drop for a while, the rigors of touring a lot. But with recent illness in the past, they’ve set up a VERY easy schedule for us now. Plenty of rest for everyone. And the band has been showing the result, extra sustained energy throughout each show. We’ve two weeks to go on this portion, before our April break, and it looks like there are more great shows in line. Every night has high points, and they vary from show to show, so I don’t think anyone ever sees “the best” show. And the one you’re at is usually as good a rock show as you’ll see all year long, with anyone.
During the show, various old photos of the band go by (including the pre-show slides, which have specific sections for Entwistle and Moon). Pete mentioned that he and Roger were both lucky to be alive, a comment not taken lightly in view of this year’s many music deaths. Speaking of, Roger pointed out that drummer Zak Starkey was the only human alive to survive having Keith Moon as a babysitter!
Tonight’s show’s highlights were in the middle; ‘The Rock’ did start with a flaw, the timing track that has a metronome didn’t start right (some of the band hear it, some don’t) and Pete gestured to stop the tape and start over. Though the tape stopped, much of the band kept playing unaware there was an issue. So Pete got a little more forceful, and started making gestures and noises that it should stop NOW. When it did, Pete went to the microphone, and told the audience “I can do that. I’m the Maestro!” – no doubt so.
Soon restarted, ‘The Rock’… rocked – just as it had the show before. Followed closely by album closer ‘Love Reign O’er Me’ which starts now with a different piano introduction each night. Stage Right pianist John Coury started this tradition during the Quadrophenia tour, and it’s a highlight each night, possible the most different thing you’ll hear during the show. Even Pete and Roger don’t know what he’ll play, and they are often delighted. Again, ‘Love Reign O’er Me’ was stunning, and Roger hit some long extended notes that even had the crew sit up and take notice. It could have been the best response the crowd gave, a heartfelt approval of his extreme vocal power – at 72!
Next up, ‘Eminence Front’ was another surprise high point. Pete’s guitar playing was unusual and forceful, and he pushed his vocal (maybe encouraged by Roger’s last effort) much harder and rougher than usual. And it made the song new and more effective.
‘Baba O’Riley’ featured the fancy footwork of the other night, it’s definitely a moment to savor; things are going well, the show’s almost done, a triumph, and time for a little jig…
This crowd was LOUD noisy and the good side of crazy. It actually looked and felt kinda like an old ’70s rock crowd. The report for the night always comes in after the show; how many ejected, hurt, or had problems requiring help. Tonight – very little, relatively: one nauseous (!), one ejected for excessive drunkenness, and one ejected for smoking indoors. This is a minimal night of trouble, given well over 10,000 people partying and getting pretty nuts. Thanks for enjoying (safely) and making Philly one of the best shows of the entire tour! Seriously, an amazing night.
As they left, Pete ran back to the microphone for one last thought: “Don’t forget I have the f***ing KEYS….!!!”