Home > Uncategorized > Good things come to those who wait….

Good things come to those who wait….

Good things come to those who wait. That’s what they say anyway. I figured I’ve waited long enough. Pete Townshend has been my muse….my inspiration….my alternate universe persona…since I was a teenager. When the 80s kicked off I was a painfully shy and insecure 98 pound guilt-ridden Irish Catholic with bad skin and even worse hair. Even my dreams were boring because I didn’t know any better. I had 3 older sisters. All of them were way more popular then me, so on the weekends they’d be socializing and I’d be home, rifling through their record collections, which very helpfully were combined because they all shared the same bedroom.

the-who-by-rick-diamondIt was here I first noticed the records. “Who’s Next” and “Quadrophenia” and “Tommy” and “Who By Numbers” and “Who Are You” and Townshend’s solo album “Empty Glass”. I devoured them all. I had all the time in the world back then….not being burdened with anything resembling popularity. I had a record player under my bed…a penny taped on the arm so the needle would dig deeper into the grooves and decrease the skips. I also had a mirror, and it was in this reflection that I noticed that I was a natural left handed guitar player. I could wind-mill like a motherfucker….although my scissor kicks sometimes drew rebukes from my mother one floor below. They would rattle the dishes in the kitchen.

In 1979 eleven Who fans were trampled to death at a concert in Cincinnati. A week after that show my older brother and my sister’s had tickets to see them in Philadelphia. My Mom was appalled. But they made all sorts of “we’ll be careful” promises and went anyway and survived. I watched from the sidelines in worried fascination. This was serious shit. The stakes were high in rock and roll, and the more I dug into Townshend’s songs, the more I realized that he was right here, inside my head, and when he ran out of things to say his Les Paul filled in the parts where I’d normally just stutter and make a fool of myself.

This was my band. Nobody came close.

But Moon was dead….and the 1982 “farewell” tour was an impossible ticket for a 16 year old with no job. So that was that. Or so I thought.

Of course it’s been the longest farewell in the history of rock and roll. In 1982 they had been together 17 years. They said it was over. It’s 34 years later now. Bassist John Entwistle is dead…gone out like a rock star with a nose full of coke and a bed full of hookers…..but Townshend and Daltrey have soldiered on, blasting through the old hits during various tours in the 2000s and 2010s….each of which I passed up, for various reasons. Scheduling conflicts, lack of tickets, lack of money. A hatred of large outdoor stadium concerts…nothing more than blatant money grabs.

My friend Joe “Wiggy” Wegleski called me last year. He didn’t ask. He told. “They’re coming to Newark in October. I got you a ticket…so fuck off you’re coming with us.”

Then Daltrey got meningitis. Shows were cancelled. So much for that. But then, another call from Wiggy. “Show is rescheduled for March 19, so fuck you you’re still coming.”

And so it came to pass. Me and Wiggy and Chris Hludzik and Lenny Mecca and Wiggy’s sister Jackie were on our way to Newark to see my idols….the greatest rock and roll band in the world. Townshend was 70 years old. Daltrey is 72. I’m not going to tell you how old I am…but if you’ve been paying attention you can figure it out. I was the only Who virgin among us. We arrived early….found a spot at a nearby bar for $5 PBR pints….met a guy from Scotland dressed like Jimmy the Mod from the “Quadrophenia” booklet. I said…”you’re a long way from home” and he looked at me like I was disturbed and said….”well it’s the ‘oo innit it?”

(Before I get into show details I’ll get the Irish luck portion of the show out of the way. At concerts assholes are everywhere. By process of elimination…..there has to be the biggest asshole. The drunkest, most drugged, most sociopathic guy who wanders into an empty seat he’s not supposed to be in and nearly starts a war. If that guy is a moth…I am his flame. It never fails. He was right behind my right ear…screaming non-sequiturs like somebody with Tourette syndrome…..until I finally turned around and got into a “shut the fuck up….what do you say to me?…fuck you….go fuck yourself” back and forth argument with him that was about to get physical….and then Wiggy….who had seen this coming….arrived like the cavalry with a very large black security guard and gave him instructions to “get this fucking guy out of here.” The rest of the section endorsed these instructions with a hearty cheer….and the guy was removed….but not before trying to blame the entire episode on me. I sat there looking virginal, like the Irish choir boy I am…..and that was that. Chalk one up for the good guys.)

So how was the show? Roger sounded great. Pete is nowhere near the high flying acrobat he once was….staying glued to the floor, but his windmills were undiminished and he looked energized and engaged….no small feat when you’re playing “Baba O’Riley” for the 1000th time. High points for me were a blazing and unexpected “I Can See For Miles” and a sublime version of “Bargain”, perhaps my favorite Townshend song of all. They closed with “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, climaxing with a Daltrey scream that nearly stopped the heart. If this is their last gasp….and it’s hard not to think so, they weren’t getting cheated. Pete added an unexpected coda to the song….drummer Zak Starkey holding on for dear life trying to follow…..and finally brought it to a close with a final swing of his arm. He thanked us all…and we all fell into the chilly Jersey night, ears ringing and, for some of us, dreams fulfilled.

The entire ride home we recited entire scenes from “Spinal Tap”. It’s what grown up rock and roll fans do when they want to feel like kids again.

They also listen to The Who. And always will.

In a bit..

–tf

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Jimbob
    March 22, 2016 at 10:19 am

    Just two things. If they didn’t play Magic Bus you was robbed.
    It would have been a better story if they had kicked you out also:)

  2. March 22, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    I knew this would turn into a blog 😉 Great write up, my man. Glad it was a great experience for you. I had a blast too, being in the company of great friends that also happen to be the biggest Who fanatics I know (OK, the ONLY Who fanatics I know). Lots of great moments. Oh, and Spinal Tap is life. Yeah.

  3. March 29, 2016 at 8:37 pm

    And apparently they considered “Slip Kid” during soundcheck. Damn.

    http://petetownshend.net/gigography/the-who-hits-50-tour/the-who-at-newark-prudential-center

  4. March 29, 2016 at 8:41 pm

    And at the most recent show, Pete told off a drunk fan. Too bad he couldn’t have done that to the guy in our section lol

    http://petetownshend.net/gigography/the-who-hits-50-tour/the-who-at-st-louis-scottrade-center

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