Recently, my cousin Don posted a photo of The Who, in concert; and I thought “I love The Who: They’re iconic! I wonder if they’re coming to Vegas..?” But, as happens when a thought occurs to me as a result of seeing something on social media; it’s lost shortly thereafter, mixed in with the minutiae gleened from the dozens of other posts I viewed. So, a few days later, when I got a press release about their mini-residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, first I thought “Oh, yeah!” Then, I called and said “Sign me up!” (And yes, Mom - I said ‘please” - because you didn’t raise me to be a heathen.)
Since all of my go-to concert buddies were still on vaycay, I went by myself, and – since the show was set to begin at 8pm – I told a couple of visiting pals that I’d be able to join them for a late supper, at Mr. Chow, at 9:30-ish. Oh, if only life were that predictable.
First off, who knew Pete Townshend was so damn clever?* Epic guitarist? Yes. Fantastic lyricist? Certainly. Occasional dabbler in the love that (at the time) dared not speak its name? Abs-and-pecs-olutely! But, possessing a rapier wit? Color me so pleasantly surprised (though, in retrospect, it makes sense, in the context of that last notion…)!
Also, were you aware that Roger Daltrey is so allergic to marijuana smoke, that it causes his throat to close-up? It’s so bad, in fact, that the band runs video messages before the concert, urging potheads to consider edibles instead of smoking. (Fortunately, I’d planned ahead, and was already easing on down that road…)
Anyhow, The Who have been together, for more than a half-century; and in that time, they’ve sold upwards of 100 million record. Meanwhile, not only are Daltrey and Townshend still performing; but they sound great! They’re obviously having fun (and puling-in what one can only imagine is an absolute shit-ton of dough), so it’s just wonderful for any fan of ‘classic rock’ to see.
And see them, I did. And they rocked. Sure there was an audio glitch, and some mishegos with Townshend’s cords; but Townshend and Daltrey are rock deities, and took it all in stride. They even stopped one song, and started at the beginning; but I didn't care. There I was, in one of the loveliest rooms on the Strip, watching to of the greatest rockers who ever lived, strut their stuff, on stage; and I was living!
It’s no exaggeration to say that The Who remains one of the most influential bands of all-time. Not just their music, (which, to Millennials might best be summed-up as “the theme-songs for every series in the CSI franchise”); but also their contributions to music, including such examples of guitar virtuosity as the windmill-strum and the power-chord, not to mention guitar-smashing; as well as originating the rock opera.
And not only did they influence many of the biggest names in many of rock’s various genres, including psychedelia (Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles), punk (The Clash, the Sex Pistols, the Ramones, the Stooges, MC5, Green Day), mod-revival (The Jam), hard rock (Guns n’ Roses), grunge (Pearl Jam), Britpop (Blur, Oasis), and pop (Panic! at the Disco); but, seven of their albums made Rolling Stone’s list of “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” – which, with four exceptions (the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen) is more than any other act; and that’s major.
As the time of my looming dinner reservation approached, I told myself that as long as they performed my favorite song from their catalogue (“Love, Reign O’er Me” from the band’s 1973 double-album and second rock opera, Quadrophenia), then I’d be good to go. Well, at 9:28pm, I checked my watch, and began gathering my various accoutrements; when the lights went out on stage. Then rain noises began, as a single spotlight lit touring keyboardist, John Corey; who began to play the intro to “Love, Reign O’er Me” – causing me to stop, drop, and (euphemistically) roll. And while I had to cut out, immediately following the song’s much-deserved applause; I’m so glad I got to hear Townshend, Daltrey, et al., perform it live, one more time.
The Colosseum | Caesars Palace
July 29th – August 11th
Click HERE for info
Get into it!
[Editor’s Note: Upon reading this, my pal Jeff Stein, who created and directed the definitive rockumentary about The Who – The Kids Are Alright (1979) – confirmed that Townshend’s been witty for decades!]