I saw The Who at the Hollywood Bowl last night. I started getting into The Who when I was in 8th or 9th grade. I think it was a little before Keith Moon died. But I’m kind of vague on the chronology. I just now looked it up and saw that he died in Sept. ’78, which would’ve been right after I started 9th grade. But I know I was already a rabid fan by the time the movie The Kids Are Alright was released in June of 1979 (just looked that one up, too). Ah…who knows… Sometime around when all that was happening anyway.
The first Who album I bought was a thoroughly beat up copy of Tommy at the local used book & record store. I was mildly disappointed at first because I’d read all these things about how loud The Who were and how they used feedback and noise. When I bought it I expected it to sound like Jesus and Mary Chain. This was a decade before Jesus and Mary Chain, by the way. But the descriptions I’d read led me to imagine something that sounded like what J&MC; eventually sounded like. I played it a few more times, though, and really got into it. Pretty soon I was spending all my lawn mowing money on Who records.
I first saw The Who in like 1984 or so. I remember I couldn’t get tickets to the show they played in 1979 in Cleveland a couple nights after all those kids were killed in Cincinnati. My friend Mary had tickets but her dad wouldn’t let her go after that happened. Later on Mary told me she hated her dad. I don’t know if that was the reason. I managed to get tickets for their next tour, though. I recall being thoroughly disappointed. They looked like a bunch of tired old men who’d totally lost the will and drive. One thing that sticks out in mind is that Pete Townshend broke a string in the middle of a song. So he just stopped playing and exchanged his Telecaster for another guitar midsong while the band played on. I just thought that was totally lame. Anyone who was so rich and complacent he couldn’t finish a song on 5 strings like I’d done countless times was beyond contempt.
I didn’t bother with any of the later reunion shows. The ones in the late 80’s with the gigantic Who sign that dwarfed the band were just too ridiculous. But when they came to Japan on their first ever tour of that country in 2004 I went. By then my wife was a big fan too. I introduced her to the group by playing her Pictures of Lilly to help her learn to pronounce L’s properly. Plus they’d really redeemed themselves when Zak Starkey joined. The 2004 show was amazingly great. Much better than they’d been in the 80’s. They actually seemed younger.
Anyhow, we were sitting there at the Bowl last night waiting for the show to begin when a loud mouthed drunk middle aged guy started talking to the row of teenagers in front of us. He asked if this was their first concert. “No, dude,” they said. “we’ve seen lots more.” He asked them who they’d seen. “Styx, Journey, Boston, REO….”
I don’t know if they were putting the old guy on or not. But they didn’t seem to be. Of course, the old guy was like, great shows, maaaannnn!! I was aghast. Don’t these kids know what their elders fought and died for? We tried to make a world where no one had to listen to the likes of such corporate rock crap. And now here you kids are getting all into that stuff? What has the world come to? Then again, now Nirvana and early Green Day are Classic Rock. So what do I know? And besides that a former member of REO Speedwagon actually wrote me fan mail after having read Hardcore Zen (it’s true!). So maybe I should just keep my lame ass opinions to myself. (Not likely)
Wish I had some kind of “Zen Lesson” at the end of all of this. But I can’t think of one. It was a cool show. But lately I’ve come to dislike big spectacles and suchlike more and more. Not that I ever really did care for them much. I’ve probably attended less than a dozen big rock and roll shows in my life — most of those being KISS shows. Noise and lights and crowds have never been my thing. And, uh, nope. No big Zen lesson in this installment.
Rock on, dudes!