John Entwistle, Rat Race Choir, Palace Theatre, Nov. 17
When the latest Who Reunion rumours hit the streets, one of the reasons given was that John Entwistle needed the money. Of course he denied it, but judging by his scam of a show on Tuesday, I'm not sure I believe him. I hope he's doing the tour for the money. Otherwise, he's suffering from a severe case of bad taste. Fortunately, only 200 fans fell for the ruse.
As bad as the turnout was for Entwistle, the performance was even more embarrassing. Rat Race Choir, a second rate Long Island bar band, opened the show with a dismal set of originals material before returning after the intermission to play as Entwistle's backup band, cranking out a thoroughly mediocre hour of classic Who tunes.
Entwistle himself is a fine bass player, but he certainly can't carry the evening musically. He can't really carry a tune either, and he stepped up to the microphone only twice, for "Boris The Spider" and "My Wife". After that, the show was reduced to little more than a "not-the-real-thing-but-an-incredible-simulation" tribute as they say in all those loud radio commercials for clone bands like Backdoors and the Blushing Brides. They just happened to be joined on stage by an original member of the band that they were cloning. With all the guitarist's laughable Townshend windmills and the vocalist's hilarious attempts at Daltry microphone twirls, I'm surprised that hey didn't change their name to the Whom or something like that.
Entwistle didn't even delve into any material from his born-for-the-bargain-bins solo albums. He did take a bass solo during "Shakin' All Over", and afterward the lead vocalist proudly proclaimed, "That's Mr. John Entwistle", just to make sure the crowd didn't think he was just another schmuck like the rest of the band. Entwistle himself has always been the least charismatic member of the Who, and he didn't go out of his way to warm up the crowd. In fact, the only things he said all night were "Thank you" after each song and "good night" at the end of the show.
It was a total fiasco, and the technicians didn't help matters either. The lighting crew always kept Entwistle in the spotlight, often leaving the lead vocalist in the dark. Without an audience to soak up the sound, the decibel assault in the theater was deafeningly loud. And I've seen four guys on a street corner with a pack of cigarettes pump out more smoke than the fog machine.
If you wanted to hear Who anthems like "My Generation", "Pinball Wizard" and "Summertime Blues" played with any fire, you should have stayed home and slapped the albums on your turntable. Yes, Entwistle was a member of one of the greatest rock bands, but I "Won't Get Fooled Again".
What they should have done was flipflopped Entwistle with guitarist Jorma Kaukonen. The 200 Who fans could have had a nice little party at QE2, while the massive crowd that squeezed into the Q for the Airplane-Tuna guitarist would have at least half-filled the downstairs seats at the Palace.