The Who performed their solo 2019 UK concert on Saturday night at Wembley. Rumors were flying that there would be additional UK dates as early as December, but Pete immediately squashed that, saying this would be the only UK date in 2019 but that they are planning some dates in early 2020.
The afternoon was full of talent leading up to the main event, with Imelda May, the Kaiser Chiefs and finally, Eddie Vedder performing as the audience arrived.
For those fans who seem to be obsessed with the attendance, it was a good crowd, with empty seats in the upper deck but as those were the heavily discounted ones anyway, no matter.
Security was very strict, with barriers at various spots along the aisles where you needed to show your ticket to proceed. No extras were allowed into the front until Baba.
The show itself was very similar to the format of the US tour. Orchestra and band do Tommy and Hits, Band alone, orchestra and Band do Quad and Hits.
One key difference was the utilization of many of the 50 Hits tour visuals on all the screens versus the plain curtain on the stage and camera shots on side screens for the current US tour. While I was glad to see some of the visuals back, like the 4 band member shots during WAY or the huge blue eye with Pete's pictures in BBE, it was too much visual noise most of the time. This is evident in the pictures that show the full stage as the performers are lost in the picture. One exception was the powerful visual for The Rock, which was occasionally used in the US but not at Wembley.
Now to the show itself. Roger and especially Pete perform differently in the UK. They are more animated and active and happier in front of the UK audience. Wembley was no exception. The show was solid and the fans got their monies worth, even if many UK fans bitched and moaned about ticket prices. Probably most of the complainers stayed home anyway.
The set list included the typical Tommy and Quad songs from the current tour, with Join Together back (YBYB off again), the Seeker back, Tea and Theatre dropped AND 2 songs from the new album. This resulted in a longer show of nearly 2 1/2 hours. This will certainly be adjusted for the fall US shows.
The first new song came towards the end of the first group of songs. Pete announced the title as I'm a Hero from Ground Zero. That was the song that we heard through the doors at the last Spring show in Pittsburgh before we were allowed to enter for sound check. Roger said it wasn't quite ready but he likes it and wanted to do it. There was a misstart which Roger turned to the audience and said, see it's not ready, and laughed. Sound was good though and it may grow on me.
Pete initially came on stage with a tan coat over a navy boiler suit and asked the audience if anyone needed any plumbing done. By the end of the Tommy set, the coat was off. Roger had on his normal washed out navy blue t-shirt and dark pants. Comfortable looking but not really very stylish. Pete at least looked like he dressed to perform in front of 50,000 people.
Pete also expressed sincere appreciation for the fans buying the tickets and showing up. And fighting their way into the arena with all the heightened security.
The second song Pete announced as Waiting for my cigars, although several people have commented that he had previously released it solo under a different name. I wasn't initially impressed with it but maybe I will learn to like it.
Midway through the show, Pete gave a nice tribute to Alan Rogan who died from cancer this week. He dedicated the show to him.
Eddie Vedder joined the band for Punk and the Godfather. Either his microphone was not turned up or he was initially intimidated, I could hardly hear him when Roger threw lines of lyrics to him. And I know the words and what he was singing. It frankly just made Roger sound better. By the end stanza, he was audible but not comparable.
It started to rain mid show but it really came down during LROM. Loren's intro to LROM was fabulous. During the band intro Pete said that he was trying to be Chopin. Of course Roger's vocals on it were superb and made me ignore the rain.
Band intros were amusing, especially when Pete couldn't remember Jon Button's name. After Baba, Roger did his usual complementary Intro of the Maestro, the reason we are all there. Pete reciprocated with a more effusive comment about Roger than normal, complementing him "on that voice". Very true and why the comments that I sometimes read that he has lost his voice are so annoying.
Roger and Pete seemed to enjoy themselves all night. Slight lyric mishaps on Join Together (Roger momentarily stumbled going into a verse which earned a "look" from Pete) and I'm One (Pete started the blue jeans verse again rather than go into the duet with Simon on I've got a Gibson) and Pete started playing something other than WGFA before he stopped and started up the correct melody. Roger laughingly said that he was singing the lyrics but the song was not the right one for the lyrics. They restarted it and it was great.
Both Pete and Roger gave lots of credit to the musicians in the orchestra at various points of the show, especially Katie and Audrey. At the end, when Roger asked us to applaud for them, he told the musicians to get off their arses - stand up. Very funny moment.
This was a wonderful afternoon and evening of music. The Who came and delivered a stellar performance for the hometown fans.
After securing our tickets we met up with friends at Victoria and headed for Wembley Stadium. I have never been in the new Wembley Stadium, only the old one. Upon arrival I was awed by the gigantic place that it really is, big is not a large enough word to describe this huge place!
Well what can I say? The two new songs were welcome and will have to grow on me, but I'm glad they included them.
They started with a selection from Tommy and brought the old boy back to perhaps the quality of what someone like Kit Lambert would have loved to have seen. Where I was, Pinball Wizard drew perhaps the loudest roar of approval from the fans all night.
Quadrophenia rocked Wembley last night and I pay special attention to 5.15 and The Rock. I have not heard a better rendition of the Rock since 1973. It blew me away!
Good acoustic WGFA which worked well and Pete really is the master of the acoustic guitar, in fact he went on to say that WGFA Was originally written that way but he said Moon, Entwistle and Daltrey got hold of it and that was that!!!!
Pete paid a very touching tribute to his friend and guitar tech Alan Rogan who sadly passed away on the eve of the Concert and it was very emotional. Alan will be missed and it is a great loss to the Who family.
A rousing welcome for Eddie Vedder as they launched into a fantastic Punk and the Godfather.
A very moving BBE and everyone in the audience switched on their camera phone lights which looked pretty incredible, taking me back to the time when people would hold up their cigarette lighters to create the effect.
As Roger began to sing LROM it started to rain and that seemed to lift band and fans to a higher level of interaction, quite amazing really. A very magical moment indeed.
They ended the evening with a rousing Baba O Riley, and I and thousands sang our hearts out. Such an amazing song.
Then it was all over. Who said this band was finished? Change your medication! Band and orchestra rocked last night, no doubt about it.
Thanks once again To the Who for an incredible evening.