I hope I don’t die inside before I get old

Written by

Andrew Millar


March 27, 2009

About 4 songs into The Who’s concert the other night I realised that there is a fundamental problem with the iPod.

With its introduction to our lives, there is more music in the world. We can have our music when we want it… where we want it… but the problem is none of it is shared. Like in our office, everyone enjoys their favourite tracks, but, by themselves. Ear buds in. Headphones on. Music is no longer a group experience. We don’t get the unifying effect of having the music invoke a group feeling, defining an underpinning mood, a spontaneous shift our collective hearts… as group collectif… en mass….

And that’s what makes a live concert such a moving experience.

And the other night, for 9000 people the earth moved collectively.

From the very first note, the very first vibration*, everyone at the Entertainment Centre knew this was going to be something quite special… unifying… uniting.

The Who, now part tribute band … to replace the members who have passed away … and part original band … Dultery and Townshend still going strong … it was 2 hours 15 minutes of power chords, complex bass foundations, raucous drumming and masterful singing of hit after hit after hit… and more importantly: quality new material.

If it was only half as good, I still would have been immensely satisfied. But it was brilliant.

It could have been one of those sad tributes to a lost past. We’ve all seen doddery old musicians who should have given up years ago but need the money, recollecting previous triumphs and carried by a youthful quartet of able bodied musos.

This was none of that.

Pete Townsend delivered a message loud and clear that he still had plenty to say. He didn’t die before he got old, he just got stronger. Past, present and future. And he said it with all the energy and anger of the rebellious teenager he once was.

Dultery’s voice is still there … and is still able to deliver that rock and roll defining scream that immortalises the closing of ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again.’

The Who were there to perform and they did … to the point where 60 seconds into the climax song from ‘Quadraphenia’, ‘Love, reign ‘o me’ he stopped the band saying “’If we’re going to do it, let’s do it well Let’s start again…”’ and they did to a huge cheer from the crowd. Followed by a bigger cheer when they carried it to a perfect crescendo.

The Who were a great recording band, turning out far more hits than people can remember… but they were, and still are, a bigger performance band. And the other night Dultery and Townsend, supported by Pete Townsend’s brother and Ringo Starr’s son, Zack (who was taught the drums by Keith Moon) told the 9000 there that none of them were ready to lie down and die….

My problem was that although there were 9000, I had no one to share it with. And that just took the edge off an amazing experience.

*’It’s up to one note, pure and easy’…. research Peter Townshend’s ‘Lifehouse’ project and you’ll see what I mean…