What a great evening you had and what wonderful memories must have re-surfaced for you on Thursday. Aside from “American Woman,’ “Undun,” and “These Eyes,” I would have screamed with delight if he’d sung No Sugar/New Mother Nature. If I could sing both parts simultaneously, that would be my version of heaven.
In the old days, concerts were a huge social event, dedicated to a teenage audience. Adults didn’t go to concerts, as far I knew. They went to little clubs or even ballrooms, to see the swing orchestras of their heyday. Rock ‘n Roll was strictly for us.
These days, when a group goes on tour, they can expect to see teens, tweens and their parents, and even grandparents, all screaming in dizzy hysteria at One Direction or Lady Gaga. I would no more have allowed Mum and Dad to accompany me to a concert in the 70s than I’d have allowed them to attend…well, anything!
Ye gods, can you imagine anything worse than having your parents sitting beside you while you’re getting your mellow on to Pink Floyd? It was bad enough that our brother and I went to the same concert—we both bought tickets, but I was up to other things that night so missed the show. The next day, he was quizzing me intently on which songs I liked best, and as I was lying my way through that conversation, I vowed to myself: no family members allowed on my nights out.
Things are a little more organized and safe these days, but in the 70s, we had no reserved seating, we smuggled booze and other illegal substances into the auditorium, we smoked freely and best of all, we didn’t pay ridiculous prices for our tickets. I don’t remember paying more than $5 for a concert ticket back then.
More recently, concerts have become prohibitively expensive, and are run like the Lawrence Welk show, in terms of sobriety and time-efficiency. No more late starts, late endings, musicians falling off the stage, too stoned or drunk to play. Concerts now are planned tactically, with the skill, precision and steeliness of Monty fighting the Rommel in the desert.
Aside from listening to the music and watching the musicians onstage, concerts were a place to meet friends, do some underage drinking (and more, but I won’t go into that here), let loose and basically dance around and be crazy. I remember the Bic lighters we’d use to show our respect (also handy for lighting up our tobacco of choice), kids doing acid before the group came onstage, and most of all, I remember being deafened, like Mitchell, by a group who also believed in Speaker Overkill: The Who.
Last time I saw them was at the Pacific Colosseum in Vancouver, 1980.
Keith Moon, their wonderfully eccentric, self-destructive drummer, had overdosed and died in 1978 at the age of 32. He was my favourite of the group, and although he obviously wouldn’t be there, I was determined to get tickets. The only way I could do that was by entering a lottery in our local newspaper. Every day I clipped out a new form, filled it in and posted it to the Vancouver Sun, hoping my name would be chosen from the 1,000s of other fans in the city.
My luck held and I was given the privilege of being able to purchase 2 tickets. Talk about rigmarole! I’m a huge fan of the group, though, and didn’t care. I just wanted to see them live.
They were everything I thought they’d be—loud, talented, gorgeous, but one thing was missing: Keith Moon, Moon the Loon, arguably the best rock ‘n roll drummer in the world. The man taking his place that night in ’80 was capable and up to the job, but he just wasn’t Keith.
As you know from our Celebrity Pretend Boyfriend Death Match, I have a thing for Keith, lo he has been dead these past 35 years. In my mind and my heart, he will always be that mischievous young man with the big eyes, impish grin and explosive talent at the drum kit.
I’ve been thinking of him recently because last week Lars told me to hold on to my hat, he’d got us tickets to see The Who in June. My heart skipped a beat, honestly it did, when I found out. I did a little ZOMGing in my mind, but then I thought about the line-up. Roger Daltrey? Check. Pete Townshend? Double Check. Keith? Nuh-uh. John Entwhistle? Sorry, he’s gone too.
Does half a line-up of the original players constitute a real group? Some name choices for Roger and Pete to consider:
- Pete and Roger Play Some Familiar Tunes from Bygone Days with Session Players as Back-up
- Who’s Left
- The Ones Lucky Enough not to OD In Our Beds With/Without a Stripper/Groupie
And does it really make a difference, as after all, Pete is the songwriter and Roger is the lead singer. The major elements are still in place, so why worry? The original group is so iconic, treasured and beloved, that last year, when the Olympic Closing Ceremony line-up was being sorted out, a letter of invitation went to the Who’s manager, asking if Keith Moon would be available to perform.
Would that he had been. I would have paid the 86 gazillion dollars it would have cost to see and hear him play for 5 minutes.
I’ll go see Roger and Pete in June and I’ll sing along with every song they throw out at the audience. From “Zoot Suit,” “High-Heeled Sneakers” and “Pictures of Lily” all the way up to those CSI-favourites, “Who Are You?” and “Baba O’Reilly,” I’ll sit quietly, applaud vigorously, sing loudly, wave my iPhone in the air to the beat of the first chord of “See Me, Feel Me.”
But in my heart, I’ll be a long-haired, drug-frazzled groupie from the 70s who’s dying to get backstage to meet her heroes. No matter what, Roger will be as handsome and vocally strong as he ever was, Pete will be wearing headphones to protect what’s left of his hearing and Pretend Keith and Pretend John will do an adequate job on their instruments.
One thing I know for 100% sure: I’ll probably walk out with my hearing intact, my voice shattered and like you, I’ll love every second of it.