Pete Townshend's World premier of Classic Quadrophenia at the Royal Albert Hall on July 5, 2015.
Alfie Boe - Jimmy (vocals)
Pete Townshend - Godfather (vocals and acoustic guitar)
Billy Idol - Ace Face / Bell Boy (vocals)
Phil Daniels - Dad (vocals)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
London Oriana Choir
Orchestrated by Rachel Fuller
Conducted by Robert Ziegler
I Am The Sea
The Real Me (Alfie Boe)
Cut My Hair (Alfie Boe, Billy Idol)
The Punk and the Godfather (Alfie Boe, Pete Townshend vocals)
I'm One (Alfie Boe, Pete Townshend guitar)
Dirty Jobs (Alfie Boe, Phil Daniels)
Helpless Dancer (Alfie Boe, Phil Daniels)
Is it in My Head? (Alfie Boe)
I've Had Enough (Alfie Boe, Billy Idol)
5:15 (Alfie Boe)
Sea and Sand (Alfie Boe, Billy Idol)
Drowned (Alfie Boe, Pete Townshend guitar)
Bell Boy (Alfie Boe, Billy Idol)
Doctor Jimmy (Alfie Boe)
Love, Reign O'er Me (Alfie Boe )
Encore: The Real Me (All)
The Real Me
Cut My Hair
The Punk and the Godfather
The Punk and the Godfather
I've Had Enough
I've Had Enough
5:15 / Sea and Sand
The Rock / Love Reign O'er Me
Love Reign O'er Me
Love Reign O'er Me
Love Reign O'er Me
Ovation and Encore: The Real Me
Encore: The Real Me
Review by Mark Thompson
It is always a pleasure to attend a concert at The Royal Albert Hall in Kensington, London. The building was opened by Queen Victoria in March 1871 and is of Italianate architecture. The Who have played here many times and at one point were banned from playing at this venue, along with other rock bands, due to rowdy behaviour at this Grade 1 listed building.
Anyway, I am here with my wife Jill, for Classic Quadrophenia and a meet and greet with the man himself, Pete Townshend. After collecting programmes, limited edition print etc. we are led into a small room with around forty others, where we wait to be taken to another room for photos. Jill and myself are the second couple to go in for photos and after saying hello to Petes aide-de-camp (minder), Mark Squires, there is Pete standing in front of a large Classic Quadrophenia poster. After saying hello to Pete he says ‘You know Rachel’ and Rachel greets us and we say ‘Hi’ to Rachel. When standing with Pete for my photo I notice the photographer behind the camera is none other than Matt Kent. I mention to Pete that we had seen the Amsterdam show which was great and that Pete had appeared to be in a good mood. He retorted ‘I (using an expletive) was not in a good mood, you should know me better than that by now’. Rachel said ‘he’s a trooper’. We both left smiling and happy.
One thing I love about Who and Who related shows is meeting different people who have travelled from various places around the world to support the band or its members. Of the people sitting near us in the venue, some had travelled from Amsterdam, Glasgow, Texas and Italy.
So on to the concert itself. Featuring The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, formed in 1946, it is comprised of around eighty musicians. The London Oriana Choir, formed in 1973, are around one hundred strong but only 80 approx. were performing on the evening. So we have gone from the four original members of The Who performing this piece of music to over one hundred and sixty.
The orchestra were in place and making that weird noise they do when they play a few notes ensuring that their instruments are in tune, the choir were in place. Alan Rogan, Petes guitar tech, had made sure that everything was perfect for Pete. Then, Robert Ziegler the conductor walked on stage and the audience clapped and cheered. He bowed a couple of times, waved his baton and the orchestra were into I Am The Sea. A good start and then Alfie Boe came on to more clapping and cheering and sung The Real Me. Alfie Boe has an amazing voice but for those who expected a rock voice they were disappointed. This wasn’t rock, this was classical and Alfie is an excellent classical singer belting out the number in true classical style. Then we are back to the orchestral Quadrophenia. Rachel Fuller has done an amazing job on the orchestration of Classic Quadrophenia, she really has.
Billy Idol then joins Alfie Boe to sing Cut My Hair and then Pete comes down the steps to a tumultuous welcome to sing with Alfie, Punk and the Godfather, Pete singing the part of the Godfather. He does a really good job, occasionally with those little cheeky smirks on his face and going into ‘actor mode’ occasionally especially when he sings the word ‘clown’ and mimics a clown. Pete then plays acoustic on I’m One. With the orchestra behind him it was difficult at times to hear his playing.
Phil Daniels (who played Jimmy in the film Quadrophenia) appears on stage to sing Dirty Jobs and receives a welcome from the audience nearly as big as Petes. The audience really love this guy and he plays up to it. He stays on stage to sing Helpless Dancer with Alfie Boe. One of many highlights of the night.
And so this great night went on with Billy Idol swaggering in his own inimitable way on singing I’ve Had Enough, Sea and Sand. Pete comes back on stage to play acoustic guitar on Drowned. Then Idol sings Bell Boy with Boe. They both appear to be really enjoying themselves. Alfie Boe sings Doctor Jimmy, which was a little odd from the point of view in hearing some of the lyrics in the song sung in a classical manner. It’s then the orchestra with The Rock, which everyone enjoyed as it did sound quite splendid.
Highlight for me was Love Reign Over Me. The Orchestra, Choir and Alfie Boes’ voice joining together gave me a lump in my throat and Jills crying tears.
So the night was an amazing success with a fifteen minute standing ovation and all the singers coming back on stage to perform The Real Me with the conductor wearing a mod Parka for this number.
Rachel was presented with a massive bouquet of flowers which almost swamped her.
Now I know some fans only want The Who to play Quadrophenia and I must admit it has a lot more drive and guts when they do. But Pete wanted to leave a legacy to his music and he has it (and we have it) with Classic Quadrophenia. We also have The Who version so everyone wins.
And I am sure that we will all agree on one thing, Pete is a fucking genius.
Review by Dante DiCarlo
Classic Quadrophenia has been much anticipated since it was announced and I had been privileged to hear an excerpt from it a few years back. Personally I loved the Classic Quadrophenia album, being a massive fan of Quadrophenia, classical music and live orchestras, so I was very excited to hear it performed at the Royal Albert Hall.
I also had a meet and greet ticket which meant I got to meet Pete very briefly and have a picture taken with him. I was first to arrive at the designated door, and we all got taken inside, given a signed poster and other items and then briefed on the meet and greet. Eventually we were taken upstairs where we waited in a pretty posh room until Pete was ready and then one by one were led down the hall into a room where Pete was waiting in front of a Classic Quadrophenia backdrop. I'm not entirely sure because it all went so fast but I think Matt Kent might have been taking the picture. I believe he was taking pictures at the show. I walked up and shook Pete's hand and noticing my mod suit and parka, he asked me if I'd come on a scooter. No, the district line. I told him I couldn't afford a scooter. It was very brief but pleasant and great to finally have a picture with my musical hero.
Then back down to the Berry Bros bar at the bottom of the RAH where I had a cocktail and talked to people, I then headed to a bar upstairs for a while before it was finally show time.
As quiet descended upon the RAH, the first strains of “I Am The Sea” begun, it was a moment that sent shivers down my spine, the sound from my second row seat was simply amazing. As “The Real Me” began Alfie Boe made his entrance to applause. I hadn't been sure whether there would be clapping for singers and after songs, this being a classical performance, but it quickly became apparent that in some ways this was more of a rock gig played by a concert orchestra. Guest stars were applauded, as were songs (sometimes the applause obscured the beginning of the following song) while Alfie and the other singers encouraged the audience to clap along, perhaps to add an extra rhythmic edge to make up for the lack of rock drumming.
The title track is one of the most impressive pieces on the original album and it remains so in this classical version. Rachel Fuller has done a wonderful job of not only transposing the basic structure of the songs, but faithfully recreating guitar and basslines from the original piece. The effect of hearing these played on other instruments in a classical style is quite stunning. The heavy influence of classical music within the original album was always apparent but it's still incredible how right some of it feels when played like this, not only the guitars and bass but of course the synth parts and John's brass. The themes of “Love Reign O'er Me” with it's violins playing the familiar synth hooks, “Helpless Dancer” played on horns with it's bolero style rhythm and the romantic “Is It In My Head” are wonderfully striking.
Billy Idol made his first appearance coming out for “Cut My Hair” dueting with Alfie Boe, but to be honest he seemed drowned out whenever they both sang together (both using microphones). Then on “The Punk And The Godfather” it was time for Pete to make his first appearance singing the part of the Godfather. It was a nice touch and slightly weird to see him singing without a guitar. Pete then played guitar on “I'm One” while Alfie Boe took the vocals.
Phil Daniels made an appearance, first on “Dirty Jobs” which featured a choir singing many parts of the song. His singing wasn't fantastic in the traditional sense but it wasn't meant to be, he was in tune though and played the part of the dad though in his suit he looked more like a mod. If this is classical music with singing then it is pretty much an opera, and as such the acting has to be a considered part of the performance. In this respect Phil Daniels did his job well, as did Billy Idol who got very much into his role especially later on performing “Bellboy” displaying his frustrations and miming carrying bags. Alfie Boe may not be everyone's cup of tea, however I found for an opera singer given rock music, he did a wonderful job and seemed to genuinely enjoy the part, jumping up and down and conveying energy and rock attitude as well as singing the songs with power. Pete was Pete and really added his presence especially when he played acoustic guitar, though “Drowned” started before he could put his acoustic on and he had to join in as soon as he could. When he did though the audience were treated to Pete's ever brilliant acoustic playing.
“Had Enough” rounded off the first half before a 20 minute intermission, Billy Idol coming back but seeming a little out of time in some parts. The second half continued as brilliantly as the first, “The Rock” being another highlight before a brilliant “Love Reign O'er Me”. All the performers came out to take a bow before a reprise of “The Real Me” with all four singers on stage to contribute though I'm not sure if it was rehearsed as it seemed they were often confused about who was singing what. It didn't really matter though and was a light-hearted end to a very disciplined performance. Then everyone including Rachel came out to take anther bow and cap off a brilliant evening which added further proof of Pete Townshend's genius and the beauty and complexity of Quadrophenia. Simply outstanding and well done to Rachel for orchestrating the piece and doing it justice.