Thursday, October 05, 2006

Anyway Anyhow Anywhere..

It's still hard to believe, not the fact the Who can still deliver a rockin' show, but that it was almost exactly thirty years since their last visit. Yep, it was October 18th 1976 at the Winnipeg Arena as part of their "Who By Numbers North American Tour", back when Keith Moon was still alive, but unfortunately I was only in Jr. High and still a couple of years before I went to my first real concert. I would love have seen the Who in their glory days, I realize that during the mid-seventies they were already on a downward slide, Who By Numbers (1975) and Who Are You (1978) weren't exactly Tommy or Who's Next, but it was the original line-up, the Ox, Moon, Roger Daltry and Pete Townsend. I took my 17 year old son to the show and explained to him the Who in the 60's and 70's were probably one of the best bands to see live, he had heard only a handful of Who songs (TV theme songs, commercials and that Simpson's episode when the town of Springfield split into two area codes, with a wall dividing the two sides) and I was hoping he could hear some of their magic.

The opening band was the energetic Inward Eye, a band from Winnipeg that has been the buzz band on the scene for the last few years, they have a record deal, aggressive management and supposeably a debut disc very soon. This must have been an incredible thrill for these three young brothers (Dave, Kyle and Anders Erikson), as they are obviously influenced by early Who and the Jam. Seeing these guys live won't compare to anything they'll record, but their energy and freshness will keep their fans coming back for more, see them in a smaller venue while you can! Their drummer (Anders) brings to mind the crazy insaneness of Keith Moon, who in many ways embodies the spirit of the original Who.

When the Who hit the MTS Centre stage at about 8:30pm I kind of knew what to expect, big screens, flashing lights, they'll open with I Can't Explain, they'll close their set with Won't Get Fooled Again (just like in 1976), and lots of distractions from watching the actual band on stage. Actually it was a good thing there were big screens because my seats for the show couldn't have been farther away, very last row in the corner of the upper deck. They had 5 moveable screens behind the stage, 2 on the sides and 1 larger screen above the stage, that way you can watch Pete noodle on his guitar and see Roger's pained expression on his face trying to hit the high notes, instead of fuzzy specks on the large stage. The 5 rotating screens were so cool, they could be butted together to form one big screen or they can be independently altered up or down and side to side with 5 different images on them. They were unbelievably clear and true to life, at one point they had video of flags waving on them and it totally looked like real flags, and another time they had images of playing cards that spun, it really looked like they were spinning. One thing though that is starting to bug me at concerts, is this increasing trend of directing extremely bright lights at the crowd, not just at the end of a song, but randomly throughout almost every song! I know it's for dramatic effect and it's makes the crowd feel like part of the show, but I found myself squinting and blocking the light from my eyes to avoid temporary blindness.

For the show itself, I wasn't disappointed, thought they didn't play anything from the brilliant Quadrophenia or the Who Sell Out and it definitely dragged during the middle portion of the show, lots of newer songs occasionally interupted by a classic such as Behind Blue Eyes and Baba O'Riley, and it gave many of the older folks in the audience an opportunity to go to the bathroom or refill their beer. The show picked up the pace towards the end of the set, with favs such as My Generation and Won't Get Fooled Again. The highlight for me, despite the guitar/amp tech trouble (that delayed the show for the second time) that caused a not-so-dramatic beginning to Pinball Wizard, was the mini-Tommy set for the encore, Pinball Wizard/Amazing Journey/Sparks/ See Me, Feel Me, all back to back, this gave Townsend a chance to showcase his incredible playing on his Strat, this was almost worth the price of admission alone. The second encore was Pete and Roger only, with a acoustic piece, Tea And Theatre, which was a fitting end to the show as it is easier to make people go home after a slow song.

All in all a fun time, I think Jesse enjoyed the show, I had a chance to see one of my favourite all-time bands and the Who showed they weren't a dated act by demonstrating after over 40 years together, they can still create new and challenging music and not rely exclusively on their hits. A co-worker of mine stood 7th row, middle on the floor and she said she could see how hard the band was trying, giving their all for their fans that paid big bucks to see them, as opposed to when she saw CSNY this July, she felt they were going through the motions. In this case, we're glad they didn't die before they got old or had a chance to return to Winnipeg.

Photos taken by Melanie Matwichuk
I didn't record the show (I was way too far away, and the sound close to the roof wasn't great), but if you want a recording of this or any other show on this tour, visit

Setlist: Winnipeg, MTS Centre October 3, 2006
I Can't Explain, The Seeker, Anyway Anyhow Anywhere, Fragments, Who Are You, Behind Blue Eyes, Real Good Looking Boy, Sound Round, Pick Up The Peace, Endless Wire, We Got A Hit, They Made My Dream Come True, Mirror Door, Baba O'Riley, Eminence Front, Man In A Purple Dress, Mike Post Theme, You Better You Bet, My Generation, Won't Get Fooled Again, Pinball Wizard, Amazing Journey, Sparks, See Me Feel Me, Tea And Theatre

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hey, i love that u used my pics for your blog.... do i know you? who is this?

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