I Can't Explain
The Quiet One
Behind Blue Eyes
A Man Is A Man
Cry If You Want
Who Are You
See Me Feel Me
Love Reign O'er Me
Long Live Rock
Won't Get Fooled Again
Twist And Shout
Pete banged his guitar several times on the stage at the conclusion of "See Me, Feel Me" and then proceeded to toss it over the amps but the big surprise was at the conclusion of "Won't Get Fooled Again". Pete kept prolonging the ending and finally John unplugged his bass and tossed it up in the air and let it come crashing down on the stage as he walked off. I have a picture of this right as the bass is leaving his hands. It's not the greatest picture but it nonetheless captures the moment.
There I was, 13 years old, standing near the 3rd base line on the field of New York's Shea Stadium. It was THE most exciting night of my life. I was about to see my very first rock and roll concert. Just thinking about it now gives me the chills. My FIRST EVER Rock and Roll concert!!! And this was not just any old rock and roll show. This was an incredible line-up of performers: David Johanson, The Clash and topping the bill - my favorite band ever - THE WHO! No, this was not the REAL WHO, which had featured the late, great, and irreplaceable Keith Moon on drums. This was the 1982 WHO, which featured Kenny Jones on drums, and Tim Gorman on keyboards, plus the three surviving WHO members: John Entwistle on Bass, Roger Daltrey on Lead Vocals, and Pete Townshend on lead guitar and vocals. I couldn't believe I was going to see LIVE the same three guys from THE WHO who performed at Woodstock in 1969, the same guys on the "Meaty, Beaty, Big & Bouncy" album cover, the same guys who played in the REAL WHO with Keith Moon. I stood there in that massive baseball stadium with the smell of pot, and beer in the air, beyond excited. After watching the first two bands who opened the show, my eighth grade self was pumped and ready for an incredible night of rock and roll.
I became a HUGE WHO fan in 1982, having gotten into their music around May of that year. Over the summer, I began listening to all of their records for the first time. My big sister Pam had strongly recommened "Who's Next", and I was already in love with songs from the "Tommy" album. ne day I got word. The Who were releasing a brand new album and would tour behind it - a Farewell Tour, their very last tour ever. I may laugh at this now, yet at the time I took the whole notion of "Farewell Tour" very seriously. I remember well listning instensely to WPLJ radio's broadcast of the WHO press conference, with Roger Daltrey announcing the tour, which would include two nights in the New York area at the historic Shea Stadium. I was very excited about the prospect of seeing my heroes LIVE in concert. My sister Pam was also interested in seeing THE WHO as well. Somehow, and I wish I could recall how, we were able to score tickets. Not sure how Pam got them. The plan was for me to go to the concert with my 17-year old sister Pam and her friend. I was soo excited. And soon bought the new WHO album "It's Hard" on the day it came out. I loved the album and was now even more excited to see THE WHO!
Then it happened. My whole world came crashing down. You see, on the day before the concert. My big sister somehow LOST THE TICKETS!! LOST THE TICKETS! To this day she refuses to take the blame for this. Her reasoning is that it was the cleaning woman's fault. We found out later that the cleaning woman we used in our house mistook the tickets for one of my father's collectable baseball game tickets and moved them (from wherever my sister left them) to another location in the house (hidden from view perhaps?). Worse, after she lost the tickets her boyfriend at the time soon got her a replacement ticket and she went to the show without me!! I was devastated. As both Shea Stadium shows were sold out and this was their last tour. As Pam left for the concert on the day of the show, I cried and screamed and moaned. My Mom came home that afternoon with a book I had asked her to pick up for me on THE WHO. I couldn't even look at it. This was soo wrong. How can the Universe be so cruel? The world had ended, as far as I was concerned.
Then a miracle happened. My father heard about what had happened, and decided to take action. No son of his was going to suffer this much. To this day, I am not sure how he did it. I think he may have called Shea Stadium, or even The Mets organization. Either case - after a few phone calls, my father managed to score four tickets to the show! Thank you Dad! Wow! I was going to see THE WHO after all! Unlike the original reserved seat tickets that my sister Pam had lost, these new tickets that my father had scored were General Admission tickets on the stadium field! Wow!
There was only one problem. I was only 13 years old, and had no one to drive me to the concert. In what felt like rapid time, my mother or my father got the whole thing together. I now would be going to the concert with my best friends Drew and Andy, as well as Drew's 16 (or 17) year old brother Mark, who would also be driving. Woo hoo! Not only would I be going to the WHO concert, but I'd now have my best friends with me to share the experience!
I remember pulling up to park at Shea Stadium and feeling the cool vibe of a rock and roll concert ... the blasting radios in the parking lot, the giant WHO banners that people had made. Walking on to the field was awe-inspiring. Three GIANT letters loomed over the stage (which was located around the center field area). W--H--O. The stage was between the two columns of the giant H letter.
When the lights went down and THE WHO hit the stage, I screamed and jumped up and down in pure excitment. It all happend so fast.It almost felt like slow motion as THE WHO began their first song. For the first time, I was hearing their glorious music LIVE. My body and soul had to adjust to the power of their presence, and their sound system. I think they opened with the song "Substitute", despite the fact that The Who concert on-line guide says they opened with another song. I remember them doing a rousing version of "My Generation", along with "I Can't Explain." The highlight for me was probably "Baba O'Riley", as I witnessed 67.000 people break out their cigarette lighters and sing that magic refrain from the song: "don't cry, don't raise your eye, it's only teenage wasteland." Listening to that moment, and looking around the packed stadium, it was nothing short of extraordinary. A truly enlightening experience I had never had before. Watching Pete Townshend do windmills and leap on the stage was just awesome. I remember watching the huge video screens, and seeing a close up of Roger Daltrey strain his voice singing "Love Rein O'er Me." I was particuarly excited when they played "See Me, Feel Me" as I fell in love with the song several months back while watching their performance in the movie WOODSTOCK. To hear Daltrey, Townshend and Entwhistle perform live in front of my own eyes was a HUGE thrill for me.
They eventually closed the set with a powerful "Won't Get Fooled Again." Soon the band came back out and started the first encore, with I believe was "Athena". But then guess what? I was told by Mark, the driver and chaperon of the night, that we had to go! WHAT? Apparently he was concerned because he only had his learner's permit and was not old enough to drive past 9pm (or something like that). I protested with all my might. You want me to leave the stadium while THE WHO were still on stage? Are you crazy? Yet I was told by Mark and by my friends that we all had to go! AAAAAAAAAAAAH! I walked out of the stadium backwards, with my body facing the stage, with the band (I think) playing "Magic Bus." In the parking lot I could hear the band burst out "Summertime Blues." I was pretty upset to be listening to the rest of the concert in the car, yet still excited. As we pulled away from the stadium, you could still hear them play "Twist and Shout", the last song of the night. I was sad that I had to miss part of the show. Yet soooooooo very pumped I got to see THE WHO in concert! What an incredible night, what an incredible show.
So here it is...25 years later to the day. I still get a thrill thinking about that amazing night and how much it meant to me. And yes, I am still ever the WHO fan through and through. Long Live Rock...
Correction sent by Paul Lyons.