Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Who at Wembley Stadium

Wembley Stadium, London. Saturday 06-July-2019.

My sister-in-law won two tickets to see The Who, et al. in London. Since she lives in Glasgow she offered the tickets to Mary and I. Mary was also up in Scotland visiting their Mum so I was due to go on my own until a friend stepped in at the last minute to keep me company (thank you Anne).

We got there about the time the first act (The Conor Selby Band) was due to finish. The bag policy was strict on size but not on content however Anne hadn't spotted the no alcohol clause. The plastic bottle of wine was not allowed in so we sat on a bench just outside, like a couple of wino's, having a pre-gig swig of some very nice Malbec. Bottle emptied, we went inside.

I usually look for a review in the broadsheets to quote from but my friend Gordon described the event so well that I am quoting his review in its entirety with my photos interleaved:

"Well last nights Who gig at Wembley was overall a decent night out, but I have to say that it was quite a bizarre evening and it had a kinda weird and unusual feel about it.

The first act were The Conor Selby Band, an unknown entity but not bad at all. Old style blues rock in the mould of Free/ Bad Company etc. A decent start to proceedings.

Next up was Irish singer Imelda May, again unknown to many, and again a very decent set, so far, so good.

The Kaiser Chiefs did a high octane set and were ok, not of my generation, but elicited a few screams from younger females around me, something quite new to me, that doesn’t usually happen at gigs I go to. But it was ok.

Things for me, started to fall apart at Eddie Vedder, I love much of Pearl Jam’s stuff without knowing too much about the band themselves. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I found the set to be dreary and boring and not the powerhouse I hoped for. From where I sat, his set seemed to polarise the audience, as about half of them seemed as bored as me and yet as many people seemed to love it and gave him a great reception. The Marmite Of rock and roll, you either love him or hate him. He was not for me.

[Eddie Vedder joined by Simon Townshend.]

[Note. Big screen, actual people can be seen at bottom of photo.]

The Who’s set had a really strange atmosphere to it. It was in turn, stunning, self indulgent, overpowering and at times a bit bizarre. But the strange thing was the audience seemed totally disinterested and disconnected for much of the set. In my opinion the offbeat setlist seemed to lose the audience quite early on.

About half an hour into the show there seemed to be a sudden exodus of much of the audience, whether this was Kaiser Chiefs fans who had seen enough or general disapproval I’m not sure, in fact, at one point I thought there was a fire, so many people were leaving and it did nothing for the already emotionless atmosphere. It also made an already rather poor attendance look very sparse.

For the rest of the inconsistent set, there was a constant steady move to the exits so by 20 minutes from the end of the show, the place was looking rather bare, with what looked like many more empty seats than full ones. This was a kinda shame really because The Who finished with The Rock, Love Reign O’er Me and Baba O’Reilly, which after so much very average fare, was amazing. So a brilliant end to a less than brilliant evening.

I have never been in the midst of so many disinterested people, who paid a lot of money, carrying out so many very loud conversations, I have to wonder why they were there at all, it certainly wasn’t for the music. And by the end of the night, most of them weren’t there any more.

The Who are rock legends, but last night wasn’t legendary, far from it, for many reasons, some I can’t even put my finger on, because I’d never been to a gig with such unusual audience behaviour and reaction. Odd really. Here’s a video of Baba O’Reilly, one of the few shining diamonds on last nights beach of stones."

[Note. Photo, not Video.]

[End Quote]

We reckon the clash with Stevie Wonder and Lionel Ritchie, who sold out Hyde Park, may have something to do with the poor ticket numbers.

The Who were scheduled to play for two and a half hours so when they started with the overture from Tommy and then a couple of other Tommy tracks I wondered if they were going to play the whole album. But no, they veered off to other songs [Set list].

Stevie Chick of the Guardian gives it 4 stars: "The Who review: teenage zeal undimmed by passing of years. Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey deploy full orchestra to electrifying effect." Full review....

I will leave the last words to Pete Townshend's exit line, "Our glamour is gone, our youth is gone but the music still sounds fucking brilliant."

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