The Who’s November 23rd concert at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre was an awesome event. I went there with my 20 year old son, Chad. When Quadraphenia was released, I was a 14 year old kid. Yet there we were last night, together rocking out to music that feels as fresh today as it did then—19 years before my son was even born.
Yup, Quadraphenia was released 39 years ago. Last night we were enthralled with two guys—Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey– who have 135 years on earth between them.
We had excellent seats—row 19, on the floor, just seats from the centre aisle. The ACC was packed and the energy level ‘at ice level’ was incredible. We never sat down the whole time. The Who performed Quadraphenia from start to finish, faithfully executing pretty well every song like the original. Even John Entwhistle and Keith Moon made appearances via terrific archival footage that placed the old bandmates, now deceased, virtually on the stage.
Moon, of course was well-known for his on-stage and off-stage antics. He died in 1978 just three weeks after the release of The Who’s seminal album “Who are You.” Moon’s death was ruled accidental. A strange fact about his death is that he died in exactly the same London apartment where “Momma” Cass Elliott died in July 1974. When asked in his prime if he thought he was the world’s best drummer, Moon reportedly responded that he was the “best Keith Moon type drummer in the world.” Despite all the craziness, he was most definitely among the best drummers ever as you can see in this Keith Moon video.
John Entwhistle was also featured prominently via archival footage and it served as a reminder that yes, he may well have been the world’s best bassist guitar player ever. See the virtual appearance of John Entwhistle at The Who’s Montreal leg of the current tour here, (at around the 6 minute mark). Entwhistle died more than ten years ago, in 2002 at the age of 58. Like Moon, he died a rock star’s death. Entwhistle was staying at the Vegas Hard Rock Hotel in room 658 on June 27th. He went to bed with ‘stripper and groupie’ Alycen Rowse. In the morning he was dead. Cause of death was a heart attack induced by cocaine. Sex and drugs and Rock ‘n Roll.
So Daltrey and Townshend remain as the last original members of the band. Last night both were self-deprecating and mindful of their own mortality. Townshend noted he no longer drinks and Daltrey, after a particularly vigorous performance, reminded us all he was a pensioner and it was now well past his bedtime.
In addition to their almost note-perfect presentation of Quadraphenia, the band performed crowd favourites Who Are You, Behind Blue Eyes, Pinball Wizard, Baba O’Riley and Won’t Get Fooled Again. The last song was Tea and Theatre, with only Daltrey’s vocals and Townshend’s acoustic guitar occupying centre stage. What a terrific concert.