BOSTON – TD Garden
Monday. Mar 7, 2016:
Boston is known for sports, great food and drinking, and strong Irish and Italian family life. But it’s also one of the biggest ‘music towns’ in America, I think the music portion just gets overshadowed by the other many things that happen here. There’s no question we’ll have a good show here, as it’s never a shy bunch of people in front of the stage.
Beer was indeed flowing, more so than I ever recall seeing at a WHO show, even in the summer! But it didn’t seem to get out of hand, and the throngs moved into the arena, checked out the “merch” (merchandise) booths, and carried beer to the seats. It’s a huge place, maybe another 30% larger than Madison Square Garden. There are the basic floor and loge-level seats, but at least two or three layers of seating above those even. It’s quite a sight.
Tal Wilkenfeld is back as our opening act and being very well-received by The WHO crowds. As the music has to be new to them (her record’s done, but not released yet), it’s a good sign that they’ll watch and listen. She’s been filling in the days off with shows in each local town, so if you’re up to seeing her before The WHO show, or getting a full-set experience of an always-rising star, there you are.
Soon after The WHO opening (which got the biggest noise of any on this tour so far) Roger mentioned several things about Boston, one of which was that it’s an excellent place to go straight from jail into a concert? Something happened in 1973 (the Quadrophenia era) that he was quite clear on – but I don’t think anyone else was. He thanked the town of Boston for that day. Pete joined in and said he’d like to get a lot of cheap/easy applause, too, by saying “Boston, Boston, Boston, Boston, …” over and over again, so he did! And they did…
The show started strongly, and the audience was UP and out of their seats from the get-go. Unlike most places, they stayed standing for most of it. After ‘The Seeker’, our second song, Pete mentioned the last lines had been written as he trudged through a swamp with John Entwistle and Keith Moon, who were “hunting hummingbirds with a shotgun,” he claimed. “Nice guys… ”
‘Pictures of Lily’ continued Roger’s boy band comments of the last show. After the song, Pete mentioned how it might be a great piece for Willie Nelson, ‘Pictures of Willie’! … and proceeded to play a bit of it sung as Willie, but he used his ‘Bob Dylan voice’ by accident. Oops…
Pete says that ‘Bargain’, again one of the more overtly spiritual songs, was a true favorite of his. It’s good to have it back in the set (although you have to give up some equally good things to get room for it.) Roger always really digs into this one; he loves doing the more-muscular songs like ‘The Seeker’ and ‘Bargain’ the most.
We noticed this crowd being more open and fun than most have been in the last years (at least since ticket prices changed the dynamic in rock halls forever.) They had a lot more of that ‘70s vibe of dancing, having fun, moving around, standing up and certainly – singing along. Roger kept encouraging this, as he loves when people lose their inhibitions and sing along. This group was not shy. It’s just part of the culture here. They kept the beat by clapping along loudly during the quiet synthesizer break on ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’, and needed no encouragement on typical anthemic things like ‘Join Together’, ‘My Generation’ and ‘You Better You Bet’.
Tonight was more Roger’s night. He’s more healthy now, and his voice is brighter and clearer in general than in the last year or so. At the end, Roger made a special point about thanking his voice doctor, a local (but world-famous) vocal expert. About seven years ago, he’d saved Roger’s voice from near-extinction, and made it possible for us to tour today. One of Boston’s finest, indeed.
Pete had a strange time today, but without the equipment problems of before. He had brilliant moments and weird unusual ones – more so than the usual. It often was powerful and energetic, but compared to Roger, it seemed he was searching for the right bits a lot. Lots of effort, and lots of tonal and musical experimentation tonight.
Pete and Roger sure seem to be enjoying themselves on this part of the tour (knock wood!) It’s a lot of great cities; there haven’t been many of the past-problems of sound and monitoring. We also have an easy schedule to make sure we don’t push too hard physically and have to postpone any shows again. Full steam ahead, it looks like this will continue to be a great ‘goodbye’ tour for The WHO.
Speaking of farewell; many people feel The WHO may have started this ‘farewell tour’ nonsense that KISS and others have used to grab an extra ticket sale or two – while never really going away! But note that they really did go away from ’82 until about ’96 (excepting their 1989/90 25th Anniversary tour). Almost 15 years out, a long time in the music biz. As ‘farewell’ means to wish a good parting, it doesn’t mean necessarily gone forever. So – back then it was a ‘farewell tour’.
This 2015-16 tour has been said to be a ‘final tour’ – and it likely is. “A long goodbye” Roger has said. The meaning of this is that taking the band and crew around the world for months at a time is troublesome, fun, exhausting, costly and more. But in future days, The WHO may do a single show somewhere, a big charity event, or even the often-talked-about but never-done residency playing Tommy or Quadrophenia in a small concert hall for many nights. But not a drawn-out concert tour after this; this IS likely to be it, folks. We’re enjoying it and treasuring it while it lasts. Hope you come see it.