VIENNA, AUSTRIA Sept. 15, 2016
“All day long, it’s been kinda hot in here…”
Today, same again, not something we’d been expecting for Fall in Europe. And this one took its toll on everyone (maybe because it was two in a row.)
Vienna! Such an incredible city to visit, unique in many ways, and absolutely recommendable to any fans of music or history. Things have changed, but there was an era when Paris and Vienna were supreme cities, and even London, New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo meant little in comparison. Much of the old-world style is preserved here, and overall the quality of life is quite high. Several of us took in the sights, band and crew, including museums and former homes of the great composers.
Mr. Pete Townshend is quite a fan of classical music, if you’ve ever read his writings or followed some of his influences. We were all looking forward to this, as it’s a fairly old arena, but with great style and presentation. Like our last show, it’s very wide, but this one even has sloping seats far up the sides, and not so much in the middle and back; unusual.
Short rehearsal today compared to the last one, things seemed roughly in shape, but the already-present heat was noticed. Then the show started; several thousand warm bodies had been added, with no Air Conditioning available. Then band members started jumping and strumming, swinging drumsticks… as you do. And the lights and video came on – adding to the temperature. We had placed fans onstage (not the kind who buy Tshirts, the kind that rotate and blow the air) but it wasn’t helping enough, just moving hot air.
It was still great in certain moments; Pete and Roger started out with full energy, jumping and pacing around as they usually do later in the set. It soon became the visible struggle, with some audible artifacts, too. Midway into it, Pete staggered toward the microphone after an effort-laden song and said to the crowd “Can you breathe?!? I’m only getting Carbon Dioxide up here…”
While our show in Paris last year was technically hotter onstage (somewhere near 108F, and this was just under 100) it felt worse tonight. Paris was possibly the best show of the tour, and this one was dragged down quite a bit from our standard show, although a live WHO show is a live WHO show, and almost all of them are great.
Same setlist as the last show, with the classic ‘Relay’ currently in place of ‘Pictures of Lily’. The arena floor was standing-only, the infamous “festival seating” of previous shows, not a chair in sight. They did provide barricades across the room in several places, breaking the floor into zones as special-seating areas and lessening any danger of pushing and crowding. However, this does allow the motivated ones to get closer, and they did. It also makes people looser to move and dance and act wilder. So, in a way, these kind of shows have an extra boost coming back from the audience.
Though we had Bob Pridden retire at this juncture in the tour, there are still plenty of people with long history on-board. Our tour manager, Roy Lamb, did his first show with The WHO in 1972, doing power and lights (ESP Lightshow) – and whatever else needed doing. 40 years and 2 months ago, Jake Duncan (our tour accountant) started with TASCO who were doing the 1976 tour of The WHO and Jethro Tull. And longtime leg-end Alan Rogan (Pete’s guitar tech) joined in 1975, just in time to do the numbers on the Les Pauls and the filming of “Baba” and “Won’t Get Fooled” at Shepperton Studios. And the rest of the crew also have a broad spectrum of years with this band (and others.) And all of us hated the heat. Please, no more!