Posted on 12/27/2012
The Who returned to Nashville for the first time in many decades. In fact the last time The Who performed in Middle Tennessee was when they had the original lineup including Keith Moon and John Entwistle. That was “The Who By Numbers” tour in the mid 1970’s. Today there are only two original members still living and they are still performing with the energy level and playing ability they’ve always had, even though Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend are now in their late 60s. The Who is currently on tour celebrating the anniversary of the Quadrophenia album. Brian Hasbrook and Mike Arnold were looking forward to seeing The Who again, but preferred a greatest hits show instead of a album concept show. Enjoy Mike Arnold’s concert review of The Who in Nashville, TN.
Written by Mike Arnold
As Brian Hasbrook and I entered the huge hockey arena in Nashville, TN, we were excited to get to see one of the most popular classic rockers from the 60’s still performing today. As we looked around the lobby of the arena we could tell we weren’t the only ones excited. Many fans were gathered discussing the last time they’ve seen The Who perform or if they’ve seen them at all. Brian and I felt right at home as we were approached by many of our Concert Blast readers/listeners as well as co-workers, long time friends, and a variety of popular musicians. We were all having a great time until someone mentioned that there was an opening act! “What! An open Act?” Then there were those who purchased their tickets and were disappointed to learn that they were going to have to wait until the encore to hear the best of The Who. Brian and I decided to relax and give the night a chance. Go into the show with an open mind and hope that we will be surprised by how much we will like it.
Brian and I decided to find our seats to watch the opening act, who we never heard of, Vintage Trouble. This band was a very pleasant surprise! A three piece white rock band fronted by a black singer with a dance style of James Brown and a voice as strong as I have ever heard. The music sounded like a mixture of Jimi Hendrix, Bus Boys, and James Brown all thrown in a blender and poured out as a smoothie. The front man, Ty Taylor, was one of the best I’ve ever seen (including me!) and I’ve seen a lot! Ty was in the audience by the second song with the spotlight following him as he strutted and danced around the arena floor. He demanded the audience to get on their feet and dance… and they did! Vintage Trouble performed a thirty-minute set and won thousands of new fans. I loved how they left the stage, through the crowd to the lobby and ready to meet their new fans (and ready to sell them some merchandise).
During the short break between acts everyone was ready for the headliners to take the stage. The electricity was in the air as you looked around and could see everyone looking toward the stage carrying on conversations in anticipation for the show to start. This show was one of those that made everyone sitting near you a friend. Sitting on our row was Mike Wolfe from the reality TV show “American Pickers”. He was just as excited as we were (and very friendly).
As we looked around the arena, we noticed three center sections on the back upper lever blocked off with a black curtain (unfortunately lack of ticket sales). However, if this would have been a greatest hits tour, I feel this would have been an easy sold-out show. Looking at the stage I see a huge drum set upon a huge riser stage where the son of a Beatles’ drummer, Zak Starkey, performed his magic. He was very impressive throughout the evening and I must say that he could show his father a few things on the kit. There were three huge video screens. One gigantic backdrop screen behind Zak and two medium size screens suspended in the upper level on each side of the stage.
As the house lights go down, the crowd came alive! The video screen began to show the waves of an ocean crashing upon a beach as we hear the instrumental intro music of “I Am The Sea” to start the Quadrophenia concept show. We see the band members take their places on the stage with Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend in the middle of the stage, Simon Townshend (Pete’s brother) on guitar along with their bassist on stage right. To the right of the drummer were two keyboardists and to the left of the drummer was another keyboardist with two guys playing horns throughout the set.
As soon as the intro music completed, The Who kicked into one of their familiar tunes, “The Real Me” to start the show and the Quadrophenia album is officially underway. Roger Daltrey showed he still has strong pipes during this first song! The songs from the album were helped with helpful videos to allow the audience to enjoy the evening much more. During the song “Quadrophenia” there were various clips of The Beatles, Elvis, and various army news flashes. Pete Townshend showed his vocal ability on “Cut My Hair” as the video displayed older clips of various people sitting in barber chairs.
The show continued with several songs of Pete Townshend playing acoustic guitar, “The Punk and the Godfather”, while the video showed various eyes on the screen. “I’m One” and “The Dirty Job” with the latter showing various types of workers walking to their jobs. The video on “Helpless Dancer” showed The Who way back in the day of destroying their instruments in concert (which brought out the cheers) and “Is It In My Head” while the video displayed poor families and abandon warehouses.
“I’ve Had Enough” got the cheers when Roger and the band played the small portion of “Love Reign O’er Me”. During the long instrumental “5:15”, John Entwistle appeared on the screen performing his lightning fast bass solo. If anyone ever had doubts that John Entwistle is one of the best bassist to ever play, they wouldn’t after seeing that performance. “Sea and Sand” continued the show followed by lead vocals from Pete Townshend on “Drowned”.
Another highlight of the night was during “Bell Boy” when their former drummer, Keith Moon, appeared on the screen singing his portion of the song. The crowd erupted whenever the deceased members of The Who appeared on the screen. During “Doctor Jimmy” Roger Daltrey had his shirt completely unbuttoned showing off his well built physic (belly scar and all). The instrumental “The Rock” showed various political figures from the 70’s through today on video. “Love Reign O’er Me” closed out the Quadrophenia set and was one of the best sounding songs of the night with Roger Daltrey still sounding as fresh as ever as he hit those final powerful high notes! Pete Townshend introduced the band, thanked the audience, and as the fans screamed for more without them leaving the stage, Pete continued by saying, By the time we finish playing tonight, you’ll be screaming to go home!”
Now that the album portion of the show was over, everyone was ready to see them start up the hits. The guys didn’t waste much time at all as Roger picks up the acoustic guitar as they began the hit, “Who Are You” while various symbols of The Who displayed on the video screens. Roger stayed with the acoustic during the beautiful song, “Behind Blue Eyes”. While Pete Townshend continued by playing single strums of his guitar before the constant strumming that introduces, “Pinball Wizard”. We next heard the very familiar keyboard work with flashing lights that began the favorite, “Baba O’Riley” (also known as Teenage Wasteland). Pete said it was now time for a classical song and strums his guitar which ques the keyboardist to begin the classic hit, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” (with clapping in time with the music from the attendees). The band left the stage as Roger Daltrey is handed a cup of tea and Pete Townshend is handed an un-tuned acoustic guitar. Pete tunes it and makes fun of the road crew for not having it in tune before starting the closing song of the night, “Tea and Theatre”. Pete and Roger waved goodbye to the appreciative crowd and left the stage as the house lights come on.
I really wanted this performance to be a greatest hits show, but I must say that I was satisfied with the show. I was even pleasantly surprised with the opening act, Vintage Trouble, and will definitely be tracking their musical progress. On the Concert Blast scale I would give this performance an 8.0. I took away a point for the profanity used between the songs during their talking after the album set (Five tick marks). There was a point in the hits section where Pete’s guitar wasn’t loud enough (especially during “Pinball Wizard“) I would recommend all fans of The Who to catch this unique tour. Even I enjoyed it… and I’m hard to please! Special Thanks to AEG-Live for the invitation to review this show and for providing tickets for our contest give away!
Written by Mike Arnold
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Tags: AEG Live, American Pickers, blog, Brian Hasbrook, Bridgestone Arena, concert blast, concert review, concertblast, Mike Arnold, Mike Wolfe, Nashville, Pete Townshend, Quadrophenia, Roger Daltrey, Simon Townshend, The Who Concert Review, The Who In Concert, TN, tour, Zak Starkey