Madison Square Garden
Monday, June 10th
I Cant Explain
Young Man Blues
Baba O' Riley
Behind Blue Eyes
Im A Boy
Boris The Spider
Wont Get Fooled Again
See Me, Feel Me
My Generation Blues
The Concert File Notes:
The Who sold out all four nights in New York on the strength of a single 60-second radio spot! It was their first appearance in New York in three years and all 80,000 seats sold out in record time. Maggie Bell was the support act on the opening night, and outside the Garden one enterprising marketer was selling High Numbers T-shirts. This show featured the only known performance of Keith Moon's crazy instrumental 'Waspman', the B-side of the 'Relay' single. At one point Keith unwittingly found himself playing a drum solo which earned an ovation. Moon promptly took a mike and shouted "Drum solos are exceedingly boring!"
The crowd of 20,000 stamped and cheered for 15 minutes but the band did not return for an encore, largely because they were arguing with each other backstage about the concert's shortcomings. Unjustly, the ever loyal Bob Pridden was the focus of their anger.
Chris Charlesworth: "It turned out that much of the problem could be attributed to those fans in the front few rows who began shouting 'Jump, Pete' to Townshend, which shocked him enormously. For the first time, he said later, he felt he was parodying himself, even resembling a circus act, and he was having to force his unique stage mannerisms which were so much a part of The Who and which had previously come naturally to him. He drank like a fish during these shows, brandy straight from the bottle. In the long term, the behaviour of these fans had a profound effect on his attitude towards his work and, in fact, contributed to what shrewd observers felt was an unsatisfactory season of concerts in New York, at least by the amazing standards The Who had set themselves in the past. Most fans loved the band no matter what, of course, and their blind faith depressed Pete yet further.
"From where I was sat I couldn't see the fans up front but I could tell something wasn't right. I put it down to sound problems, as was so often the case with The Who, especially when they hadn't played for a while and were in a new place for the first time. This was the first time they'd played the Garden, which Pete hated. I thought they'd sort out the problems after the first gig but they didn't... not really. It was only later that I realised that the real problem ran far deeper, and I suspect that the band used the sound problems as a scapegoat when they, or at least Pete, knew the problem lay deeper too. They hadn't recorded any new material since Quadrophenia, so the set they played was a run-through of their past, a kind of greatest hits selection. The only real surprise was that they reintroduced 'Tattoo' into the set which the fans loved but which somehow contributed to a slightly unsettling feeling of nostalgia. Pete always wanted to progress but the others were content with the way things were, and I think this was also part of the problem. It was a problem that would never go away.
"There was a terrible atmosphere backstage after the opening concert. The Who were screaming at each other behind a locked dressing room door. Kit Lambert, who wasn't often seen at Who concerts in those days, had turned up unexpected, drunk as a lord and demanding to mix the on-stage PA in future, a ludicrous suggestion, and that didn't help matters at all. Bobby Pridden ran out of the dressing room shouting that he was through with The Who, and I took him aside into another room and spent ages telling him not to quit, and of course he didn't. He would never quit because he loved them so much. Poor Bob really caught it in the neck so many times. He was the real fifth member of The Who. They couldn't do without him. Eventually everyone calmed down and Pete Rudge, who was managing them in the US at the time, asked me to quietly steer Lambert away from the scene which I somehow managed to do. On our way back uptown to the Navarro I asked Kit if he could ask his driver to stop so I could buy a packet of cigarettes. We stopped and Kit rushed into a liquor store and came back with two cartons for me and packets!"
Unfortunately, these shows were widely reviewed across the States. A typical response was that of John Rockwell, who wrote in the New York Times (June 12): "On the standard of past performances, the first of the band's four New York dates at Madison Square Garden Monday night was a little disappointing. There was no new material. The ensemble wasn't as tight as it should have been. The sound system was poorly balanced and prone to feedback. And the pace and tension of the group's 100-minute set tended to wander a bit towards the end. But all of that is said in the service of reportorial objectivity. For some of us, The Who remains the best rock band in the world." Jim Melanson, in Billboard (June 22) was even more willing to overlook The Who's shortcomings when he described the show as "one of the finest concerts ever in the Garden."
Photo Gallery courtesy Dave Kleinwaks 2001©