Friday, December 08, 2006

My Generation Doesn’t Live In No Private Cul-de-Sac

I’m not the world’s biggest fan of The Who, but when free tickets came my way last night to see them perform in Omaha’s Qwest Center I jumped at the chance.

Some history: a few years ago, the tri-daughters and 10 tri-daughter boyfriends and boyfriend wannabe’s were hanging out in our family room discussing how hard the latest grunge/punk bands-of-the-moment rocked. I’m usually content to let every generation think THEY invented rock ‘n roll but, on THIS day, an education was in order. I pulled The Who’s 40 years-young ‘Live At Leeds’ CD from the collection, put on “Young Man Blues,” cranked the volume to 100, sat back and let the learning begin. 6 minutes later, after the plaster stopped cracking, Nirvana and Kurt Cobain’s self-absorbed yelping seemed, I dunno, so pointless, so “been there, done that.”

Back to last night. There was nothing said about a warm-up band so I wasn’t expecting one. 7:30 P.M., lights go down and an unannounced band – not The Who – takes the stage and starts playing a song I casually recognize but can’t place. Song #2 is a song by The Pretenders, one of my all-time favorite bands. “What the hell…” I say to myself… “Why did they book a ‘cover’ band to open for The Who?”

“They WOULDN’T!” And I start to look more closely at the lead singer…tall, thin, red knee-high leather boots, white tails, black top hat, great voice, in fact a voice just like…OMG! It’s Chrissie Hynde! And there are a couple of words printed on the bass drum…OMG! It says ‘The Pretenders!” It’s NOT a cover band, IT’S THE PRETENDERS!!! That means the drummer is Martin Chambers, my all-time favorite drummer…OMG!

OK, I’m getting a little giddy here, but you get the picture. If the concert had ended after The Pretenders’ set, I woulda been completely, deliriously happy. But it didn’t, not by a long shot.

Zack (yes he’s Ringo Starr’s son) Starkey’s furious drumming led The Who’s entrance. He’s not Keith Moon but he’s pretty darn close. And, like me, he plays DW drums. Unlike me, he’s good. Pino Palladino’s stoic demeanor and howling bass anchored the rest of the rhythm section from stage right.

The rest of the band should perform as something other than The Who - The Walking Wounded, maybe. The regular keyboard player was back in England attending to an ill spouse, so his keyboard technician filled in quite capably. Pete Townsend’s younger brother added a solid rhythm guitar, but he’s really there to hit those high notes that Roger Daltry’s 64 year-old voice struggles with. Speaking of Daltry, a nasty cold added a growling, bluesy huskiness to one of the best voices in rock ‘n roll history.

And then there’s Pete Townsend. Townsend drove the band through the stirring 2-hour set, his right arm windmilling across his red Stratocaster, amps belching thunderous, annihilating waves of sound. Personal faves ‘My Generation,’ ‘Summertime Blues,’ and ‘Baba O’ Reilly’ all crackled with freshness and energy. I came a ‘so-so’ Who fan; I left a Who fan. Nice job, lads.

“The middle of the road is no private cul-de-sac.
I can’t get from the cab to the curb
Without some little jerk on my back
Don’t harass me, can’t you tell
I’m going home, I tired as hell
I’m not the cat I used to be
I’ve got a kid, I’m thirty-three baby…”

“Middle of the Road”
The Pretenders
From “Learning to Crawl”

1 comment:

bunnygirl said...

Pete Townshend has a blog: http://www.petetownshend.co.uk/diary/

(No, I didn't find this, my husband did.)

And there's a good bio out called Amazing Journey: The Life of Pete Townshend, by Mark Wilkerson. It got good reviews, so I got my husband a copy. He's enjoying it.