We're at the enormous Sheraton hotel. 50 or so journalists storm the bar in suite A as they're waiting for the Who. The group who once was the "enfant terrible" of pop, but who today, eight years after the breakthrough, is part of the elite - respected by more diverse groups of people than before. The whiskey starts to take effect, and after half an hour, the conversation is so loud that no one notices Pete Townshend sneak in. For a moment panic is in his eyes; He seems to want to disappear, but is spotted and walks almost embarrassed into the room.
A press conference with the Who seems just as meaningless as any other press conference with established and well known artists. Pete Townshend answers politely the same questions he's had for the last eight years; He shakes hands with representatives of the Danish underground press, who persist in saying man after every other word, and he is only somewhat excited when old rock&roll, or his avatar Meher Baba is discussed.
Roger Daltrey is asleep. Keith Moon has missed his flight from London, and manager Chris Stamp hopes he makes it on the next one. John Entwistle stands big and powerful in a corner of the room with his wife. It's an odd group of people in an odd pop group. Think of every member individually and admit that it's strange that the Who has existed for eight years - and made good pop music.
- Here's the intellectual, alert and quick witted Pete Townshend. He writes all the group's material, is a great agitator in the world of pop, who has several good opinions of the pop music of today.
- Craziness is represented by Keith Moon - A man who doesn't seem to mind what music he plays or why, as long as he can dress as a nun and scare the hell out of the Londoners with incredible practical jokes.
- Roger Daltrey is the most colorless member. He's a fine singer, but hasn't really made anything outside of the Who.
- One would think the same of John Entwistle. He's quiet, and moves around very little on stage. At the press conference his impression is almost silly, but gradually it turns out he has quite a lot to say, even if he speaks on a very different level from that of Townshend's.
How can four personalities this different stick together for eight years. John Entwistle says:
- That's because we never meet in private. The only time we do meet is when we play. I'm really very tired of them.
In the latest edition of Melody Maker, Pete Townshend raves about the importance of singles. John Entwistle means that the single-medium is dead.
- I know Pete is of another opinion, but singles are really worthless. Only "My Generation" meant anything to us. The rest was a waste of time. When you have to compete with football teams, boxers and bag-pipe-bands in the charts, it's a waste of time to even think of singles.
He goes on:
- We have just done an album. But it won't be an album. Pete's probably turning it all into singles. I've just started to write songs for my third solo album. The only thing that inspires me today is recording my own albums. David Bowie, T Rex, Faces is nothing. Alice Cooper is crap. If I weren't a member of the Who, I'd have hated it. I can't identify with the material Pete writes. I love classical music, the only pop music I listen to today is Head, Hands and Feet and The Band.
Keith Moon makes it in time for the concert at KB-hallen and Roger Daltrey wakes up. After "Golden Earring"'s terrible bombardment of the drum skins, the Who comes in and puts it all right with a distinct, clean and bouncy "I Can't Explain" and then "Summertime Blues". In moments the Who is clearly the best in the world. There's speed, excitement and lots of show.
But at times the Who can be really bad. A long "jam" that follows after "My Generation" (still vital) is almost unbearable; The instruments blend together in some noisy lump of music that only irritates.
The Who falls with the material. Not even Pete Townshend's fantastic jumps and dances can hide that the Who has its weaknesses. But generally, the weaknesses are counterbalanced by songs like "See Me, Feel Me" (the best this Monday), "Pinball Wizard", "Can't Explain" and the superb "My Generation".
John Entwistle stands like a statue on stage, but WOW can he play the bass. Townshend is for the most of the time the rhythm guitarist and many themes come from Entwistle's bass. Roger Daltrey is one of pop's best singers with a strong and expressive voice that can be heard clearly. Keith Moon is a lunatic in the positive (?) sense of the word. The Who wouldn't have survived with another drummer and Moon couldn't have played with another group.
Tonight the Who is in Stockholm, tomorrow in Gothenburg and on Friday again at KB-Hallen in Copenhagen. The extra concert was to be held yesterday, but the Who had to move it, in order to get all equipment to Sweden in time.
BELONGS TO THE TOP
Take the chance and see the Who! The band's importance has been enormous, and with the new repertoire (they don't play "Tommy" anymore), the Who belongs at the top.
On Monday 21st of August, the following songs were played:
- I Can't Explain: This was indeed a high point as Mats Olsson pointed out above. It started a bit slow, but then.... It happened!
- Summertime Blues: The Who continued with another oldie. The audience clapped along through the first verse.
- My Wife: The audience and journalists had perhaps not listened much to the "Who's Next" album, because this was also a high point, and almost all "Who's Next"-tunes worked well. Maybe it did take some getting used to, but none of the material the Who played on this occasion was in any way bad . This version featured an almost Eastern/Arabic solo from Pete.
- Baba O'Riley: The Who not quite getting it right towards the ending frenzy.
- Behind Blue Eyes: Keith Moon is urged off stage, and he reluctantly leaves only to creep back behind his drum kit in time for the powerful ending. The same scene the Who had created for years.
- Bargain: Featured a long punky jam towards the end.
- Won't Get Fooled Again: Worked as well as ever. Pete announced that there were Americans in the audience, and introduced this one in a Mickey Mouse voice!
- Magic Bus: Had a lengthy haggle between Daltrey and Townshend, and then a bluesy jam towards the end.
- The Relay: Pete erroneously introduced this one as "An album of our forthcoming track".
- Pinball Wizard/See Me, Feel Me
- My Generation/Naked Eye (Medley): After the two Tommy songs, the audience was clapping wildly, and Pete interrupted with a loud "STOP", made clear that they were going to do an "oldie" from way back, and made some references to a certain concert in Aarhus. This version included a short improvisation with Roger singing "Feel Alright" and a jam that sounded like a cross between Magic Bus and Relay before breaking into "Naked Eye" and ending with Sparks, and some noise good enough to accompany instrument smashing, which they didn't do. The audience cheered wildly for an encore, but the Who didn't return.