Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Memorable Moments from the SECOND Las Vegas THE WHO Quadrophenia Concert 02-10-13

Memories from The Who’s 2nd LV Quadrophenia Concert, Sunday 02-10-13

  • Seats this time were two rows closer – the identical seats we’d had for Roger & Simon’s Tommy tour.

  • The 5” platform shoes I bought after the first concert were WELL worth the cost and discomfort. Without them I still would have struggled to see anything, even though the seats were a bit closer. This experience was 1000% better AND the crowd and the concert were also much better – it was an AWESOME experience and concert!
  • From the start I was awestruck and grinning with – there they were! I could see! Directly in front of me!
  • I could see Pete clearly most of the time, and Roger much of the time. Pete was ab-so-lute-ly on fire. Everything was just working and the band was HOT.
  • Roger sang really well. There was a point after we noticed some pot smoke around, and Roger had noticed it and angrily signaled to someone to get rid of it… after that he struggled and labored with his singing for a bit, so we were worried the rest of the concert would suffer. But he recovered and thereafter continued to kick ass.
  • Again this time, in Helpless Dancer, Pete had the audience sing the “lesbians and queers” lyric, indicating that hey, it wasn’t him saying it and being all politically incorrect… haha.
  • I’ve Had Enough was powerful and in-your-face, the perfect harmonies full and exquisite yet pumped up – not plaintive and poignant as on the album, but assertive, aggressive – an eloquent “take that!” definitive push. Yes, I’ve had enough, dammit!
  • I tried to get video of Drowned, not because I particularly love the song (not one of my faves), but because Pete was so intensely immersed and going all-out on it, it was transporting. At the end of the song, he gestured to the audience and said we were the water. Then – I suddenly “got it.” (Looking at lyrics again now, I see several “meanings.” He might not have originally intended the “audience/water” one and/or it might have just been to engage the audience – although I don’t think he’d pander – this brought a new dimension to the song for me.) It was mesmerizing.
  • The funny, drunk, talkative girl in front of us for a bit made her way near the stage, then came back, grabbed me in a clinch and was spouting, “I was all the way near the stage and then this RUDE security guard kicked me back!” I said yeah that had happened to me, too, on Friday. She said, “You don’t understand, he was RUDE and he kept kicking me back! He wanted to see my ticket stub!!!” I said that yes, I did understand because it had happened to me as well. She said, “But they didn’t understand, the band had INVITED me there!” At that point I gave up, wanting to watch and listen to Bell Boy. Bell Boy-oy!!
  • After one of Pete’s solos, the drunk talky girl said to me, “He’s, like, the best guitar player – EVER!!!” (Of course, I heartily agreed.)
  • TOO many great songs and musical and performance moments to even begin to describe or enumerate.
  • Whenever I was videotaping, I was always holding the camera well above my head – I often couldn’t see with my line of sight on stage what the camera was seeing. My right arm is much steadier than my left, and holding it up like that for so long was very difficult, but pain? Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh who cares?
  • Also when videoing, I’d have to zoom in in order to make the perspective the same as what I was seeing live. Otherwise the video seemed too far away. They were right there, man!
  • There was an obnoxious man behind us yelling extremely loudly & gruffly “Yeahhhh!” which was very disruptive L.
  • Unfortunately, due to a screwup, some of my fave videos from the show have no audio. I have separate audio but it’s of poor quality. L  Maybe I will be able to fix/grab audio and sync it up. I hope so!!!
  • There was a point where I was in the aisle and there was absolutely nobody standing between me and Pete, about 20-25 feet away. I took a few seconds of video (portrait mode) just to commemorate that. IF he’d looked up (and he didn’t – damn!) he’d have seen me. It was just a weird and cool moment, to be there with nobody between us, even though it was at a distance.
  • I had made my way partway up the aisle before Behind Blue Eyes, and stood there for most of that. I was relatively close and had really wanted to get video of at least the start of Pinball Wizard. Then the guy standing in front of me said something I couldn’t hear, then he walked away and I saw the security guy clearing people away again. So I went back to my seat. (Friday’s drama when I was close & got kicked back was at this same spot in time. AND it bears mentioning that when I saw Roger & Simon do Tommy, I was getting a drink at the bar and the bartender started talking to a co-worker instead of just giving me my change and so I’d missed Simon do the start of Pinball Wizard then, too.) There always seems to be drama for me around Pinball Wizard… L. I wanted SO much to see that up-close L. I’m not sure I even remember the rest of the song…
  • When I went back to my seat area, security was NOT clearing the aisle up there, and a thick crowd had congregated, mostly blocking my view even from my good seats. A GIANT man stood RIGHT in front of us. He had his girlfriend in front of him. I couldn’t see one bit. Finally I saw a spot in front of him so I said, “Excuse me!” and squeezed around him and into the gap a bit ahead of him. This was during Won’t Get Fooled Again, and I was recording it… when the part came – “You know that the hypnotized never lie” and Pete says, “Do ya?!?” I said it really loudly, and the guys in front of me – who were also really into it – turned and must have decided that I was A-OK to know the song that well, haha, and they said, “Here, come in front of us!” and let me go forward even further, and helped me aim my camera.
  • They DID do Tea & Theatre this time, for which I was in the aisle at around the 6th or 7th row. 
  • At the end, after nearly all had left the stage, Pete was still on stage toward the wings to my right, and I was in the aisle around the 7th row. Everybody was leaving and there was almost nobody in the aisle/pit area near the stage, and Pete was still standing there gesticulating with kind of a bowing toward Roger. So I strode quickly up into the area maybe 2-3 rows from the stage, waving frantically like a doofus at Pete, begging him just to wave to me, haha. He didn’t even seem to see me there. Damn! So close! Maybe 10 feet away, but he was up on the stage which added some vertical distance. Oh Pete….all I really wanted was a wave. And maybe an autograph…someday…
How do I grasp and retain for forever the memory of how it felt to be there, be that close, see what I saw, feel what I felt? To be so close to Roger and Pete I could almost have smelled their aftershave… To see the sweat on Pete’s shirt and see firsthand the folds of the fabric as they gave in to his windmills…  the shirt with just one or two buttons fastened partway up so that when he raised his arm in his fury and fire, the shirt parted in an upside-down “V” and his belly exposed (along with belly button… I know, that’s something weird for me to remember, but hey…)  His glance across the crowd darting here and there and … if I were lucky… perhaps it would fall on me for one nanosecond… the possibility was there. The beat and the lights and all the chords and sounds coming together in a powerfully perfect, magnificent cacophony of transcendence…  Seeing the light glimmer and dance off Roger and Pete in a way that’s different from seeing things farther away – more alive, more 3D, more real… REAL people standing right in front of you, doing their magic right there, not icons viewed across distances, football fields, television screens, but real, live people as near to me as my home’s front door from where I sit right here. People. Not characters. Not objects read about and viewed in films and videos and documentaries and articles and books. People.

It may seem weird, but this is meaningful to me.
And this – I never thought or expected to be able to happen. To see them in person at all. And to be so close as to experience it in this way.

To stand a few feet away and – albeit acting like a doofus trying to get a wave from Pete – just being there, and experiencing that.

Very, very special.

I hope I can trust my memory to retain the feeling of it. The vision. The realness.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Memorable Moments from the Las Vegas THE WHO Quadrophenia Concert 02-08-13

Memorable Moments 

  • The gal a few rows ahead of us just off the aisle who spent the entire concert waving her arms sinuously in the air.
  • Pete stabbed his hand on the whammy bar during a Quadrophenia song and had to leave the stage for a few minutes to stem the bleeding and get it bandaged.
    • Later he said that one of the challenges of doing Quadrophenia live was that there were no breaks to talk “or to bleed.”
  • At one point, Roger got extremely angry & upset because someone was smoking despite the announced request that nobody smoke because he is very allergic to it. Roger let loose with a swear-fest about it.
  • The little man in the black suit, white shirt and white scarf who looked very tinily dapper until he spent much of the concert in the aisle dancing with a peculiar arm-whirligig-dipping motion, then used his scarf to snap into the air in front of him for awhile. Reminded me of, “I don’t always go to concerts, but when I go to The Who, I really let loose as if on X.”
  • AND - despite my frantic attempts to draw one, I was unable to add to my "celebrity wave" collection with a wave from Pete Townshend. Bummer!!! (My collection currently consists of a wave from Roger Daltry and another from Shania Twain.) He waved to the balcony. He waved to the other section. Nowhere near me. :( 
And for the rest of the comments, here's a little perspective.
Before the show began, I took a picture to show just how close to the stage our seats were:

It's not very far, right?
And so, here are the rest of my notes:

  • Not being able to SEE. I'm a short gal, and tall people were in front of me every which way, and everyone stood the entire time. Peeking through changing windows of visibility… very distracting and upsetting.
  • The extremely tall guy who was just in front of and to my left, blocking my view of Roger. At one point he leaned to the right to talk to someone else and entirely obscured my view. I said, “I can’t see!” and he argued with me, “But I’m over there!” (pointing). I said, “Well, you’re not over there now.” 
  • Ironically, both Extremely Tall Guy and the Tall Girl with the Hair Up and Big Earrings Directly In Front Of Me Obscuring My View did not seem to even care about the concert. The people who they were with (sitting more toward the middle) cared, but these younger folks didn’t really even seem very “into it,” as if they'd just been brought along. It got me angry that this was ruining my experience when I CARED MORE THAN ANYTHING and I’d spent so much and it MEANT SO MUCH TO ME. I really had trouble getting past that. It was an extremely difficult situation for me.
  • Moving down the aisle a few times to get in closer. Once even spurred on by a blonde woman behind me urging me in my ear, "Go, go, go, go, go!" This after I'd already been sent back to my seat by Security, but when a GIANT man planted himself squarely in the center of the aisle holding a camera above his head, it was necessary for me to move in order to see anything at all. Security starting hassling me a lot and finally, even when I was near our seats, came over and demanded to see my tickets. >:-[  I let loose on them - perhaps I was "technically wrong" but I didn't care - that I COULD NOT SEE and I paid a LOT OF $$ for these tickets and it was IMPORTANT to me and I COULD NOT SEE. (I know they don’t care, but I was about the only one in that situation back there, couldn’t they have let me stand a couple of rows up??? Everyone else was in the aisle…Shit.)
  • At one point I was standing about 20 feet away from Pete. Awwweeesooommmme! Couldn’t really savor the moment, though, because Security came and kicked me back. 
  • All this really prevented me from being able to “connect” with the concert and the fact that it was The Who live in front of me, and not just one of the videos I’m so ingrained with. It was all very distracting and upsetting. I couldn’t appreciate the concert very well because I could barely see the performers – and when I could see part of them (sometimes by having to continually crane or duck my head side-to-side), it was only the one performer at a time. I couldn’t watch both Roger and Pete.
  • Some of the video I took, I just held the camera way over my head and pointed it at the stage. I could not actually see what was going on. (Yes, I know there are video screens that I could have been watching, but that just makes it seem like...watching a video. If the act is in front of my person, I want to watch them in person, not view an image of them when they are actually right there in front of me.
  • Some video I took became abbreviated because of Security hassling me for being forward of my seat and in the aisle (although I tried to stay at the edges of the aisles, and it seemed like there were other people more flagrantly misbehaving that weren’t as hassled as I was).
However, there were a few moments when I saw Pete wail, going at it with his particular genius on guitar, and that I was in the presence of  it was something very special. The sound was great, there were times when parts were done differently and even more interestingly than on the album (a shame that there’s no download of it?) and the performance was excellent. I just couldn’t see it L.
You see... This wasn’t “just a concert” to me. It was more like a spiritual pilgrimage: 

Imagine there’s a place – a city – your soul burns to visit, only it’s very, very far away and not even open to the public. It’s walled up and nobody can go there. You think about it and yearn for years, never believing you’d actually have the chance to go there. Then the city unlocks its gates and allows visitors – only it’s for just a short period of time. They may never unlock those gates again. And even if they do, you may not have the chance to go. So you do ALL you can to go right then, right now. Your soul is in disbelief that you can actually do this. But you put together all your resources and make it happen. It’s a struggle, and challenges arise along the way. But this is so important to your soul, you want to give it the best shot you can.

You finally arrive at the city’s gates. You’ve arranged for the best transport available to you. But as you reach the gates, they partially close. You cannot see above them. You can barely see the city itself. You try to go toward the gate, to breathe the air of this place, to feel the atmosphere and experience being there. But you are shoved aside. Others much larger than you take precedence, and you – despite your equal resources, and despite the way this place, this city, touches you and thoughts of it alone have been life-changing for you – despite all that, you are not permitted to see the city, breathe its air or feel its terrain. Despite others’ full view, and despite your supposed equality to them, you are only permitted to view a glimpse through cracks in the fence, while they are able to experience it fully.

The word is: “Them’s the breaks.”
But I have a right to feel disappointed.

Now... Lest you think I was simply a miserable ass during this concert – that wasn’t the case, I just honestly found the difficulties to be so pervasive that unfortunately they pretty much overwhelmed the experience, despite my trying earnestly to push them aside..

So, here also were some of the memorable “Good Parts:”
  • Pounding and punching the air furiously along with thousands of others singing along with songs – Punk and the Godfather… I’ve Had Enough… and anytime the Zoot Suit lyric came up…
  • Filling in along with the crowd when Pete turned over the singing of the now-politically incorrect phrase “just like the lesbians and queers”… 
  • Everyone feeling empathic with Simon’s rendition of The Dirty Jobs and “gettin’ put-down,” “gettin’ pushed-round” and “bein’ beaten every day.”
  • Finding it impossible not to sing along with every song...swept along on the wave of sound
  • The oh-so-different energy of the crowd just two rows forward filled with people who were seriously digging the time they were having, the music and The Who.
  • The poignancy of the inclusion of Keith Moon and John Entwistle’s oh-so-familiar parts in Bell Boy and 5:15.
Songs performed after Quadrophenia were (not necessarily in this order):
  • Who Are You
  • Baba O’Riley
  • Behind Blue Eyes
  • Pinball Wizard
  • Won’t Get Fooled Again
…and, they surprised me by not ending with Tea & Theatre.

And now I'm having tea, after the theater, just me.

Friday, February 8, 2013

On the eve of the first LV Quadrophenia concert…

Wow, didn't realize it had been so long since I last blogged. Hmmm... And it's The Who bookending the gap.

Often comes the question, “Which do you like (or think is) better – Tommy or Quadrophenia?

It depends.

To me, Tommy is more inspired, whereas Quadrophenia is more intellectual.

Tommy is more touching with raw emotion (though not sentimental!), while Quadrophenia is more refined and mature.

Tommy has more tenderness and playfulness, while Quadrophenia has more of an angry power.

Tommy is more spiritual with an element of innocence even as it flirts with themes of hypocrisy, whereas Quadrophenia is more grounded in the grit and disillusionment of real life.

Tommy is more natural and organic, while Quadrophenia is more determined and driven.

As far as Quadrophenia goes, I feel that Punk and the Godfather, and perhaps Helpless Dancer, could belong just as well as Lifehouse songs. But I could be wrong. J

A friend who attended the concert in San Diego the other night told me that Zak Starkey did not play due to a medical issue. I truly hope he plays this weekend, as I love the way he plays these challenging compositions with such an appearance of ease, and the history/lineage he shares with the band which makes him a fitting and uber enjoyable member.

Having experienced the outrageous awesomeness of Roger Daltrey and Simon’s Townshend's Tommy tour a bit over a year ago, I am still a rookie when it comes to being in the presence of “The Who” as an entity.

Yes, this is my first time.

I came to my appreciation of them later in life – a pity, since they have been hugely influential for me. Here’s why: Because their songs aren’t formulaic. They don’t revolve around typical song topics. In the words of someone else about a different artist (I think it was the White Stripes guy)…. “I didn’t know you could DO that!” When I was starting to write, the feedback I received was derision because my work “wasn’t like what you hear on the radio.” Wrongly, I thought you had to write like that. I let the derision put me off-course. A major, and tragic, life error which I am hoping to still rectify.

In the meantime, I know my fantasy of singing backup with The Who is not going to happen. My dream of playing guitar (even with my elementary skills) with them on I Can’t Explain, The Kids are Alright or Substitute will also go unrealized. And my dream of casual conversation with them… yeah, not gonna happen either. At least, I hope, not in the form of my actual dream, in which I met Pete Townshend and we were involved in a discussion where he went off on an intellectual tangent that I couldn’t follow, and so I sat there trying to act as if I knew what he was talking about and desperately trying not to “look stupid.” So perhaps it’s a good thing if some dreams don’t come true. ;)

That is all for now.

~~LV’s #1 Female Who Fan