By Gerry McNally
As a long time Who fan i remember excitedly buying the Blues to the Bush double CD back in 2000 as i’d heard the band were back together and playing better than ever
From there on they just seemed be on a roll and indeed the turn of the century seemed to usher in a new era for the band as they took to playing live again with renewed vigour. Sadly, my plans to catch them live never came to fruition and when John Entwistle went off to join Keith at some debauched shindig in the sky i knew i’d missed my chance.
Fast forward to early 2013 and the news breaks on local radio that the Who will play Belfast for the first time in 46 years, and i knew i was going to be there. Working as a freelance photographer for local media i was able to secure a pass to shoot the gig for local media outlet UTV.
Quadrophenia isn’t one of my favourite albums, i much prefer Tommy, but there’s no doubting the quality of the material on the album.
Any doubts i had about this show were swiftly dispelled as after the opening of I am the Sea. The band burst into Can you see the Real Me with energy that many bands in their twenties could only wish for. The photo shoot was the industry standard first three songs. So when Pete stepped up to the microphone to sing Cut my Hair, it was time to find my seat and enjoy the gig.
Albeit this was an augmented version of the Who, but clearly Townshend was enjoying himself and seemed very relaxed. Daltrey was swinging his microphone as if it was 1969 and still catching it. Their obvious enthusiasm for this project shone though and was appreciated by the audience.
One of the highlights for me was the recorded bass solo by John Entwistle and imagery used during 5.15. It almost brought a tear to my eye and evoked several cheers of approval from the audience. Bell Boy brought a similar response when Keith Moon’s vocal and imagery was used to fill in his section. This was show very much aimed at acknowledging the past as much as it was about taking the band forward.
Biggest reaction of the night came during the greatest hits set at the end. The casual fans suddenly came alive to the sounds of Pinball Wizard, Who are You and Won’t get Fooled Again. In my mind i could imagine them later moaning about ticket costs and how they only played the good stuff at the end.
For two old age pensioners with bus passes Pete and Roger can still put on a show that many younger bands couldn’t dream off doing.
The Quadrophenia show is definitely one for fans of the band and it is a very impressive and well put together show and as such i enjoyed it.
I left the venue a much happier person after finally getting the see the Who at last.