I can’t believe that I’ve been listening to, seeing, and into The Who for 30 YEARS!!!! And, to top that off, they did a mini-tour here in the States a couple weeks ago – and I went to three of the shows!
It started on Friday, October 24th. I took the day off from work and got the train up to Boston, where they played at the TD Bank North Center. (Whoever sold all the stadiums in the country to corporations?!…) I’m really lucky – I used to publish a fanzine on The Who called The Relay, and the band has been really good to me over the years, so I got backstage passes for myself and my friend (and another long-time Who fan) Melinda.
We found our seats (Melinda scored 4th row – this was one of the few times I didn’t get tickets through the band) and then decided to go backstage to see if anything was going on. No one knew anything about backstage – what was happening, where we should be, etc. So, we end up in the Band Hospitality room with two other people – a gentleman named Rich and his son Anders. And that was it! I just started laughing. Years ago, there would be loads of people hanging out everywhere backstage, and this time it was the four of us in the band room. Mind you, The Who had their own dressing rooms down the hall.
But the four of us hung out back there, had a few beers, said hello as Zak Starkey (Ringo Starr’s son and the drummer), Simon Townshend (Pete’s brother and guitarist) and a couple other people popped into the room. But it felt a little Spinal Tap-like – not in a bad way, but in a really funny way. I felt like - and then there were Two. Not just the Who gone to Two (with only Pete and Roger left) but the fans going down to Two too….
The show was phenomenal – it still amazes me that The Who are still so amazing and Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey are in their 60s. And, for me, it’s such a great way to celebrate my life and all the crazy things I’ve done. To still be able to see The Who 30 years later, to look out around the audience and see that everyone around me was also spreading, going grey, and starting to age, was such a beautiful thing. I felt like I fit in – I was home with my family, and we are all growing old together.
They did their usual hits, so I won’t go into a song list – they’re posted up elsewhere on the Internet. And “Eminence Front” that night was the best performance I’ve ever seen of it – blew everyone away!Afterwards,
Melinda and I went backstage again. One thing that I really love about going to see The Who is that I always meet great people backstage. And this time was no different – we met a family from Austin – the woman was friends with Keith Moon’s wife Kim, and she brought her two sons to meet Roger and Pete (and they got to!). We also met various other fans and people hooked in with the band. I have to say, I felt honored to have been given a pass. The band had obviously really cut back on backstage passes, and Melinda and I were two of the few people back there – I don’t think there were more than 10 people with backstage passes.
We got to talk with Roger, which was nice – I haven’t seen him in person for over 10 years – and he looks great. For someone who’s 64, he’s looking phenomenal. He’s always been so nice – he signed everything anyone put in front of him, took photos with everyone, and was generally nice all around.
I saw Pete standing outside his dressing room door talking with his security guard, but as soon as he saw me watching, he jumped back behind his door. I am not even going to try to figure that one out. And I’m past the age of running down a hall to find someone. I thought he had to walk by us to leave, but he decided to leave by another exit from everyone else. Whatever. Guess rock stars will always be rock stars. And he’s obviously under no obligation to speak wtih anyone. I’ve learned that the way to enjoy Who shows is to have no expectations. I never expect a good seat, never expect a backstage pass, never expect to meet people – so I’m almost always pleasantly surprised. And, Pete, well he was being Pete – it’s one of the reasons I love him so much….
So – Boston was a phenomenal experience, from the train ride to the show to the great people we met before, during and after.
The next day I took the Acela down to Delaware to visit and stay with friends John and Tim. They joined me at the Philadelphia show at the Wachovia Center on Sunday the 26th. And even with an Eagles game just letting out and the Phillies in the World Series in venues next door, we were able to drive right up to the box office and park right out front.
We had second row in front of Pete seats, as well as backstage passes. What a different experience! Whereas Boston backstage was like a family, Philly was just weird. We had passes, and, again, hardly anyone was backstage, but we had to stand out in a hallway with a bunch of kegs (and no tap!…) and no one having any idea what was going on. One of the very nice backstage workers got the head promoter of the tour for me, and he said there weren’t any green rooms – so we had to stand amongst the kegs and Who packing crates. Oh, how times have changed…. I did meet Eddie from Catering – he’s been doing backstage for 20 years and he was extremely nice – but the hospitality room was back where the dressing rooms were so no one was allowed back unless they were invited. And because I see The Who so much (and had just been back 2 nights earlier), there was no way I was going to ask to go back there.
So, I’m standing around the kegs with John and Tim, wondering what we should do. I turn around and am shocked to see Roger walking by, with Pete and his girlfriend Rachel right behind. Roger passed quickly, but I was at that awkward distance where I couldn’t ignore the fact Pete was in front of me, so I said hello and who I was, just in case he didn’t remember. I got a grunt. Yes, Pete Townshend grunted at me. I have no idea if that’s a good thing or bad thing (I used to get hugs but I’ve also seen him cuss people out), so I guess a grunt is a neutral. So my poor friends John and Tim, who’ve never been backstage at a Who show, only got to see Pete grunt in their direction and Roger run by. Hope they weren’t disappointed!
The show was amazing – really, if you haven’t seen The Who and get a chance, I highly recommend you do. Even though I’ve been saying this for probably around 25 years, they will stop one of these days. And both Townshend and Daltrey are in top form for their age – really, they’re amazing. And the band also totally kicks ass.
After the show, I went back up to New York. I decided to skip the New York show – it was actually out at the Meadowlands, and I found that it was more difficult for me to get there than to go to Boston! You have to either drive or take a bus, and the buses stop really early, so I didn’t want to hassle with it. And I figured there would be so many people backstage or wanting to get backstage and wanting good tickets that it would be better to see other shows.
So, instead, I went to the Borgata show in Atlantic City on Halloween. Again, another great show! We had 6th row seats to the right but ended up in the 5th row in front of Pete. It was such a weird place – it was a hotel ballroom! Seriously! We were sitting in hotel ballroom chairs – I’ve never been to a Who show like this – the place held maybe 2500 people. It was totally cool! I’d met a really nice guy when I was checking in – his mother had bought him a ticket for his birthday, so Melinda and I ended up standing next to him. Again, everyone around us was drinking beer and yelling their eyeballs out, so I was able to totally let loose.
I guess I didn’t mention what I’m like at a Who show. It’s like primal scream therapy for me, but with lyrics. I usually have a few beers or glasses of wine, and just belt out every song at the top of my lungs. Because I’m so fortunate to get good seats, I’m usually always surrounded by people who are totally into the show, so we all have a huge party the entire time. And the band always banter back and forth with the audience in front of them.
We only had aftershow passes for the Borgata, and The Who did a runner immediately after the show, so there wasn’t time to see anyone (which really doesn’t matter because, you know, you can start to overstay your welcome….)
So, my tour with The Who was another amazing journey. I could never thank the band enough for being so kind to me over the years, or for the great music that I’ve literally grown up to – and am now growing old with. There’s something so comforting about that.
Long Live Rock! (and droopy jowls!….)
If you want to see more photos from my mini-mini-Who Tour, please visit my Flickr page – http://www.flickr.com/photos/dianehatz/sets/72157608434342653/