Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Who @ Verizon Center 3/24/2016

I went to see The Who at the Verizon Center ($40). Groupon made this show a bit less expensive, but still pricey based on the rock pedigree. I met up with Ariel, and Neil and Michelle there- out of all the thousands of people there, it was quite the happenstance to come across Neil and Michelle in the beer line!

There were, predictably, a number of merchandise options, but somehow I didn't get any photos of them. I recall there were quite a selection of shirts, but nothing really compelling- and  they were about $40-50 each, a bit pricey. The only thing I got were beverages and a Chik Fil A Sandwich which I wolfed down.

Video Screens Reign o'er me

The Who's current touring lineup is made up of Pete Townshend (guitar), Roger Daltry (vocals), Simon Townshend (guitar, Pete's brother), Pino Palladino (bass), Zak Starkey (drums, son of Beatle Ringo Starr), and Loren Gold (keyboards). John Entwistle (bass) and Keith Moon (drums) replacements sounded good enough to me, but I never heard the originals live, just on recordings. Some people may argue at what point can you still call them The Who, but I think the Townshend/Daltry combination still makes a pretty strong case.

Packed House

Now, the real question was do they still have it? Many acts, as they get older and more broken, have their energy wane and their abilities decreased (see Don Dokken, Ian Gillian etc.), get less heavy (Metallica),or even just become a shell of what they were (Zakk Wylde), and it becomes difficult if not impossible to sound exactly like or even close to what they did years ago. Now, if expectations are set...lower..., then I think they would be met. It *is*, however, uneven across artists. Folks like Alice Cooper and Phil Mogg (UFO) (both 68 this year, actually) still have sounded great the last times I saw them recently (2014 and 2013, respectively). But some of the others (Ozzy, Roger, etc.) have been very hit and miss.  Throw in people who have always sung (or half-sung) like Vince Neil, and you get quite a range of mixed expectations.  Whatever the case is, I will leave the definitive answer to ...more seasoned... fans who may be more into them, but from a more casual fan- The Who were a bit rough but pretty good. I think that the huge video screens with old footage interspersed with effects and live feed gave an interesting mix of nostalgia and in-the-moment feels that augmented the experience as well.

Stick to the guitar, bro
Voice was shot this evening

The worst moment for me was easily when Pete Townshend pretty much lost his voice, but still tried to talk, and then eventually sing a song. I felt pretty bad for him, because it was pretty atrocious how the scratchy whisper of a hoarse voice tried to claw its way out of his throat and the rest of the band could really not do much except power thru that song. I am not sure what the inebriated folk thought, but that was easily one of if not the worst experiences in live music 2016 for me. I think there was supposed to be another song he was going to sing, but they must have swapped it for another Roger song.

Overall, for me the show was a mixed bag. I didn't know all the songs, as I'm more of a casual Who fan, but the ones I really liked I really enjoyed. My top songs this evening were "Behind Blue Eyes," "Love,...," and "Pinball Wizard." I kept on thinking "maybe I like the WASP version of "The Real Me" better" when they were playing it. Like Ozzy's recent Black Sabbath performance, I thought the vocals were hit and miss- sometimes Roger seemed like he was struggling, but then at other times, his hitting the right notes seemed effortless. The band were pretty tight, but there were no blast beats or changing time signatures, so it was a different... pace... of music. Not that it's super easy to play, but they sounded fine, as far as I could tell.  I am glad I went to see (half of) the Who before they no longer play live anymore. I just still wonder how this compared to what they used to be live?

Bonus: Groupon was very economical, and the sound at verizon is loud enough that you could be anywhere, really. The screens helped with the visuals, but I think I would have melted my ears if we we down closer. I don't know how all the greyhairs did it- maybe they were already deaf. With as many HEAVY shows as I (used to!?) go to, I endorse wearing earplugs so as to not lose one's hearing and to be able to think straight.

Amazing Journey to the high seats

Next show: Sonata Arctica

The Who (8:30- 10:45)
  • The Seeker
  • The Kids Are Alright
  • I Can See for Miles
  • My Generation
  • The Real Me
  • Pictures of Lily
  • Behind Blue Eyes
  • Bargain
  • Join Together
  • You Better You Bet
  • I'm One
  • The Rock
  • Love, Reign O'er Me
  • Slip Kid
  • Amazing Journey
  • Sparks
  • Pinball Wizard
  • See Me, Feel Me
  • Baba O'Riley
  • Won't Get Fooled Again

Updated 12/30/2016- added fotos

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