24 Jun 2015
The Who Hits 50! Tour: 3 Arena, Dublin, Eire, June 23, 2015
An unusual follow up to the Belfast show; tonight here in Dublin. We’ve been here before, the venue formerly known as The Point is now called 3 Arena. Right near the water, it’s been modified and upgraded in various ways. Still, it’s a smaller venue than most, and has what we call “festival seating” on the floor. Festival seating, oddly enough means ‘no seats’ – standing room only, first come first served. Usually The Who will not play these shows, trying to avoid the pressures of a crowd and the resulting safety issues. The only such ones I can recall doing are in Cardiff in Wales and somewhere in either Italy or Spain in 2006 – and actual festivals. Still, these kind of shows mean the front-row people are not necessarily the wealthy ones, but instead the eager and die-hard fans. They push and cajole their way to the front, so you get a very positive group of excited people overjoyed to be so close. So – despite all the issues, it makes for a great show, every time.
The arena also has a very short floor area so the back seats are close in, and they rise up steeply, making all the seated customers very visible – which is quite interesting view if you’re onstage. You can see individuals, what they wear, how they’re responding, etc. which is not possible with distant seats in a normal arena. This floor-standing and the close wall of seats facing the stage makes for a rather boisterous show – plus a few people in Ireland are known to enjoy a pint or three… as they live in the homeland of Jamesons and Guinness! There were many Irish lasses in the crowd, so a good mix of male and female, which always seems to help the shows. I spotted Irish Jack in the crowd, famous to many as one of the very first fans of the group and more. He’s been a mate of The Who since their very first shows in Shepherd’s Bush.
As Roger said during the show “There are many places in the world where you can’t tell where you are. But you never NOT know you’re in Dublin!”
Things started with our new opening act, The Last Internationale, who rocked harder than last show. Seems the crowd really liked them, singing along at times, and pushing the band to move and play stronger than we’ve seen; definitely a superior show. They’re easy to work with, and a deeply varied hard rock style that fits well with The Who music.
Tom Kenny, The Who’s long-term Lighting Director was in fine form tonight; important for him as this is his hometown, and his family was here. The stage lighting looked great and really accents what the band are doing. Great stuff, as you’ll see in the photos. Tom’s sent us one photo from a talented local photographer (Dara Munnis) who let us use his great stage-front shot of Roger you see here.
When ‘Bargain’ came up (the Who’s Next classic), Pete took time to introduce it tonight. It’s unusual for him to talk about this song, so we knew it would be interesting as the subject matter of it is not the typical rock-concert-material. Pete mentioned the song was about faith, and mentioned he knew Roger seemed to not have any spiritual beliefs, “which makes us an interesting duo” – as Pete certainly has his. “Faith is where you cross your fingers, and hope you got it right!” Someone used this song in a commercial a while ago, which is really odd as it’s about giving up everything worldly in order to gain the greatest “bargain” – spiritual purity and enlightenment. During the song, the video screen shows images of the classic Who members, all of them in bright red/yellow/orange and some kind of ectoplasmic lava-light swirly stuff going on around them. It does indeed convey the feeling of non-worldly stuff going on, especially with images of Moon and Entwistle.
‘My Generation’ was the longest we’ve heard in a while; as in the old days, it becomes a jumping-off point for improvisation . . . IF the band is in the mood. And they were tonight. Look for a video online, you’ll see lots more motion and longer sections than usual. It’s cool to see a band that actually enjoys playing their older songs. It seems at times as if they are still trying to win over the audience, as if they were new pieces, rather than coasting through some already-popular material as many bands do.
Soon after, Pete complained of the heat, which was pretty strong this night. The crew ran to gather a fan; the first one showed up, It was only about 4″, the size of a small desk fan, which would not do. Our roadie Ian recalled seeing an abandoned floor fan on a stand upstairs and went running to grab it. He “borrowed” it, and then found the power/mains plug on the end was “munched” = broken. So our sound team used one of their own plugs, wiring it in quickly as possible and testing it. Then on the next change we brought it out and set it up near Pete’s side – but away from the guitarist’s area of motion. Roger improvised a cool vocal blues thing – never heard it or anything like it before. Then Pete made sure the fan wouldn’t bother Roger’s voice, and the show went on without a hitch.
For ‘A Quick One While He’s Away’, the band added some extra bits, and pushed the energy of it farther than we’ve seen before; it had some extra life as the old original once did. There was some debate before this tour about playing the song, as it’s not “a hit” that everyone knows, but the film of the original performance on the Rock and Roll Circus is so iconic it’s been a great wish of many fans to see it live. Still, that film itself is a problem, too, as it shows the band at a huge physical peak, pushing the kind of energy they could never have sustained for a whole show – even in those days: it’s easy to force that kind of power for seven minutes when being filmed. Even Zak felt it might not be appropriate to try it live, as they could never match that blistering energy today, but the fun of the song comes across well, and it is chock full of great hooks. Memorable stuff. Plus, it gives everyone a serious rest before the Tommy section and the anthemic hits at the end – all of which require quite a lot of sustained energy.
Tonight the ‘Captain Walker’ and ‘Sparks’ sections had some incredible moments. Not flawless, but exceptional versions compared to the usual. As he has been doing, Roger dragged out the vocal endings to several songs, like ‘Love Reign O’er Me’ and ‘Listening to You’, to the point that Pete (and the whole room) were visibly unsure if it would ever end . . .
. . . but it did. Wonderful night, a very special performance in several places. Thanks again, Dubliners! Will we see you again?
Onward . . .
Tonight’s Set List
I Can’t Explain
Who Are You
The Kids Are Alright
I Can See for Miles
Behind Blue Eyes
You Better You Bet
(First time played live since 1971. Roger sang the first verse acapella)
Love, Reign O’er Me
A Quick One (While He’s Away)
See Me, Feel Me
Won’t Get Fooled Again