SetlistNo known setlist
That the Who was made of disparate characters was always apparent form their on-stage scraps form the very earliest days and whilst each of the quartet had their own highly individual eccentricities and so forth, there was evidence of a split into two camps.
This I witnessed personally on Friday 24th May 1968. It was my final term of 4 years at the City University (TCU) St John Street, London – when it was still essentially a redbrick engineering colleague and only just changing – and I was on the student union nts Committee.
The last big musical event was planned and so on Friday 24th May 1968 the Who had been booked to appear.
Special posters were created in the Union at TCU – wonderful blue and orange silk-screened vision of a windmill armed Townsend and distributed both locally (usual at the time) and to most London colleges and universities.
The nature of the booking was something that the Ents Sec kept close to his chest and delighted in being vague or enigmatic – but it emerged that it was to cost outside budget and so he asked his mates in a band up from Bristol, changing their name for the evening to r the ridiculous Oscar Bicycle.
No confirmation was ever received form the Who, management or booking agent despite the advertising and tension rose.
About 4 in the afternoon, a sigh of relief when the gear turned up and roadies set up in the Great Hall.
Still no word until a call was taken around 5.30 in the union office from Roger Daltry himself, to ask where the gig was, exactly. Reassurance of a kind and so all went ahead.
Well into the evening and the hall was holding approx 1100 eager punters and Oscar Bicycle were prevailed upon to play a second set to keep the folks happy, though a great sense and feeling of frustration was clearly building up.
Down by the form entrance, nail biting, tense, fearful of a riot for a non-show and mindful pf the true 700 capacity limit decreed by the fire insurance, etc. we lurched from back slapping self-reassurance to outright panic – knowing that by the front we could see the band arrive (if there were now ever going to) or scarper like buggery up and down St John Street when the angry dancers and liggers did boil over and riot.
Then, by ordinary taxi a totally together but genuinely anxious Daltry arrived, saying that he’d explained the address to the rat after the phone call but only by message to their office. Gulp! He was escorted to the senior staff common room (seized by us a star dressing room) and we waited even more distressed. Then Pet Townsend arrived, equally OK but worried he was so late and clearly on edge that only Roger had yet arrived.
Oscar Bicycle were persuaded to do a third set. The natives were turning ugly. I ran back down to the entrance lobby in a state of near terror. As I reached the door, a large black limo arrived with two likely looking figures in the back seats. However they showed no sign of disembarking and a driver appeared asking "if it was OK if the lads had a few drinks from the limo’s bar before coming in".
“NO WAY”, was the unanimous cry and someone had the sense to get Townsend, who dashed out into St John Street yanked open the door and pulled the clearly out-of-it Moon and Enwhistle up the steps and pushed them m staggering along the corridor to the ‘dressing” room.
I feared the worse, as in those days, whilst capable of taking on a load, I’d never have then attempted to walk let alone take up an instrument and try to find the right end, pay, etc.
I rushed up the stairs to tell the poor gut trying to MC and keep a near- erupting crowd from going ballistic the we were saved, he went to the mic and did the usual “what you’ve all been waiting for, etc…” and I shot out of the hall at the side to see the still stumbling figure of Moon following the other three on stage form the rear.
With seconds of the announcement, they went straight into the most amazing and totally together sounding version on My Generation and played a set that was a blinder form beginning to end, not a fluffed guitar or drum break, or anything. Evening smashing up the guitar was spot on! I was gobsmacked, amazed and totally impressed. From the time that messrs Entwhistle and Moon had made their very inauspicious and unsteady arrival at TCU to the opening thunderous chords of My Generation, I realised that a mere five minutes had elapsed, despite it seeming age.
There are many types of professionalism; but that night showed me one I had not hitherto experienced.
Or rather, it showed me two, for going along the corridor after the encores in hope of seeing the gods in wind down, a very smooth gentleman in belted whit raincoat came up behind me and asked "where the boys were" and also for the Ents Sec by name.
The latter was, in fact close behind me and greeted Kit Lambert and handed over – I saw it with my own eyes and heard the sum confirmed - £450 in CASH. No paperwork, no contracts, no receipts. CASH. And that was it.
Just over a year later, on 16.17 August 1969, the Who played Woodstock as total world stars – for US $6250 advance and a further $6250 in CASGH on the day!
Date sent in by Stuart Booth (read report). Thewho.com lists this show as City University, Clerkenwell.