Read on to find out why our classic rock king is hoping for a little more variation from Daltrey, Townsend and co. when they stop off in Newcastle in June.
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First the good news. The Who are touring this year and heading for Newcastle in June.
Now for the not quite so good news. They are playing Quadrophenia in its entirety, which, inevitably, will mean some of their classic songs will be left off the set list.
I don’t dislike Quadrophenia, the double album released in 1973 about the social scene in London and Brighton in the mid-sixties. Tracks such as 5.15, Love Reign o’er me and The Real Me are right up there with the best in their vast catalogue.
But it is not my favourite Who album and I suspect I am not alone among classic rock fans to think that.
It’s predecessor Who’s Next released two years earlier, remains one of the finest rock albums ever released, including such gems at Won’t Get Fooled Again, Baba O’Riley and the haunting Behind Blue Eyes.
Quadrophenia and Who’s Next. Two albums very different yet two albums which probably encapsulate the pulling power of the band.
Mods or rockers? Now that is a question which has hung over The Who for decades.
Pete Townsend, a cult hero to Mods, once described them as “power pop,” while remaining survivor Roger Daltrey still looks like the quintessential rock frontman, even if his blond locks are considerably shorter these days.
And in Wikipedia’s genre section, there’s no mention of mod though apparently they tick the boxes marked hard rock, art rock and progressive rock.
Their logo remains the RAF emblem, the very symbol of Mod-ism. Yet they still earn entry into the Guiness Book of Records as “the loudest band in the world” __ the ultimate badge of honour in hard rock circles _ following an outdoor gig at Charlton FC’s Valley stadium in 1976.
My wife loves The Who but would also include The Specials, Stevie Wonder and Michael Buble among her favourites. I’ve got mates who own every record by the band but hate Led Zeppelin and AC/DC.
Brian May of Queen and Rush’s Geddy Lee cite The Who as major influences yet so too do Paul Weller and numerous punk and new wave bands from the late-70s and early-80s.
Contradiction upon contradiction.
The fact is that when they tour this summer, their audience will be an eclectic mix of young and old, mod and rocker, pop lover and punk. With the possible exception of The Beatles, no band has transcended genre-tagging more than The Who.
Neverthless, ask a classic rock fan like yours truly to nominate theirWho top ten and we’ll trot out songs such as the aforementioned tracks from Who’s Next, Pinball Wizard from Tommy and Who Are You intermingled with early released such as I’m A Boy, I Can See For Miles and of course My Generation.
Mods would of course have My Generation at the very top of their list and include Magic Bus and I Can’t Explain while Quadrophenia would be heavily represented too.
Of course, I’m looking forward to seeing The Who in June, probably for the very last time and no doubt I’ll enjoy listening to Quadrophenia in its entirety more than I realise right now.
But above all, I want to hear Daltrey’s piercing vocals and Townsend’s booming power chords. I want it to be a rock gig. I want the setlist to include a hefty slice of the material which made me fall in love with The Who in the first place.
Let this be a gig for rockers as well as mods!