Tuesday, 06 November 2012 15:29
The Who began a new tour with a pair of shows in Florida to promote their recently released box set of the band’s classic double album, Quadrophenia, with two discs of unreleased demos.
Story and photos by John Davisson
Quadrophenia has long been one of my favorite albums. Although there is a story connecting the songs, it is not the story that connects with me. Certain themes in the songs connect with me, and the songs empower me. The lyrics are universal, but with lush details that make them seem personal. Every time I hear the songs, I dream, I am invincible and I feel anything can happen.
Hearing the songs live with several thousand Who fans is different. I think the classic line “My fried egg makes me sick first thing in the morning” is about me. But I’m not the only one thinking that at the show. I think “I’m One,” but I’m not the only one. I think nobody can “See The Real Me,” but there are plenty of misunderstood people filling the Amway Center in Orlando for the concert.
The 2012 presentation is different from the 1996 Quadrophenia tour, which had an on-screen narrator between songs. I prefer the way the songs flow into each other in 2012, just like the album. Pete Townshend is playing more electric guitar this time around. I like that. Roger Daltrey’s voice sounds strong. Simon Townshend, Pete’s brother, sings the lead on “The Dirty Jobs,” while Pete sings lead on “I’m One” and “Drowned.” Simon’s new solo album, Looking Out Looking In, was for sale at the show. It is a nice album and I wish he could have played some of it as an opener for the Who. “She Asked Me” (which features an Americana sound) and “Electric Friend” (which is perfect for cranking up the volume) are my favorite songs from Looking Out Looking In and I would have enjoyed hearing them live.
John Entwistle took the bass to a new place on the Quadrophenia album and on the 1996 Quadrophenia tour. Later Who tours showcased the dynamics between Pete and John exquisitely on “5:15” and the song was always a highlight of Who concerts. In 2012, we can remember John, who passed away in 2002, as he plays his solo (recorded at a prior concert) on the giant video screen while we (and the band) watch in amazement. Keith Moon is also remembered similarly during “Bell Boy” as he sings verses from the video screen.
The entire Quadrophenia production was nice—a giant video screen behind the band and three circular video screens above showed iconic images of the era and video from the show. The sound was crisp; three keyboard players and a horn section added to the sound. Pino Palladino on bass, Zak Starkey on drums and Simon Townshend on guitar help Roger and Pete recreate the Who sound they created 39 years ago on the original album.
Quadrophenia is a wonderful evening of Who music, but they added a finale of other classic Who songs. “Who Are You,” “Baba O’Riley” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” are included for any CSI fans who might have attended out of curiosity, and “Anyway Anyhow Anywhere,” “Behind Blue Eyes” and “The Kids Are Alright” are there for the die-hards. They end the show with “Tea and Theatre” from their most recent album of new songs.