concert memoirs pt. 38 – the who

The Who w/Counting Crows
9/24/02 Xcel Energy Center w/Amy Ticket Price: $150.00

The image for this installment isn’t a ticket stub. I know I saved it, but I can’t find it. What you see is the cover of the CD of the show. It’s part of a two disk set, recorded live that night, that could be purchased from The Who’s website. A CD set was available for each show of the tour. It’s a recent option in the music industry to try to make money from music.

These days with buying songs online and with pirating songs as well, there just isn’t as much money to be made on album sales. So the real money is made from the concert tour, that is if the musical act is a big enough name. Hence the astronomical ticket prices. (Did you see what we paid for one ticket?) I think it’s a very cool idea to offer the show you just saw on CD, making a great keepsake.

So, that’s what the image is all about.

This also is the last blog of this concert series in which I know the date of the show. I will continue the series highlighting shows that I just remember seeing, but have nothing else to show for it.

Amy and I spent $300 on a pair of tickets!! By far the most either of us had ever paid for concert tickets. It was The Who! Amy had never seen them and I wanted to see them with her, so $300 be damned! We only live once.

But, before we could even get the credit card out to go $300 in debt, we got the bad news. It was a Saturday morning when our friend, Dave (the Dave with whom I attended the previous Who concert – Target Center, 7/22/97) called to ask if we’d heard the news.

“What news?” I asked.

“John Entwistle is dead.”

“What?!”

It was true. Entwistle was in Las Vegas just prior to the tour beginning. He was having a coke party with some strippers in his hotel room, when his heart gave out. I guess that’s rock ‘n’ roll!

But, what about the tour?

Our worries of whether The Who would tour or not were short lived. Rog and Pete decided the tour would go on (goon?). A tour that included a stop in St. Paul.

Counting Crows opened. You may have heard of them. They’re a future rock ‘n’ roll footnote that Amy and I don’t particularly care for, so while they played we wandered around the Xcel concourse. Amy had never been to the Xcel Energy Center so it was as good a time as any to have a look around. It’s a very nice building which is located on the spot where the St. Paul Civic Center had been. Readers of this blog series will remember that it was at the St. Paul Civic Center where I had seen The Who for the first time (10/2/82). Twenty years and I’d come full circle.

The warm up act finished their whining and wailing, so Amy and I went in to take our seats. We were looking forward to the show, but we had a minor concern. There was a group of two forty-something couples seated directly behind us. That in itself isn’t a concern, but they were doing quite a lot of yakking. Loudly. One of the fellows fancied himself an expert on whatever it was they were talking about. So, he was particularly annoying. Our concern was that the group would continue yakking through the show.

“They had better shut up for the show or you’ll have to beat them up, Honey Bunny!” my sweet, loving wife said to me.

We needed have worried though. When The Who came out to perform, the couples turned their attention toward the stage. Phew!

The Who (or maybe they should have changed their name to The Two?) were in great form, despite the absence of John Entwistle. Pino Palladino filled his spot. Pino was good if not the same, but who could be?

Zak Starkey, Simon Townshend and John “Rabbit” Bundrick made up the remainder of the band, as they did when Dave and I saw them on the Quadrophenia tour in 1997. A great band, but not on the same level as when they were the original four. If only I could borrow Mr. Peabody’s way-back machine and witness The Who at their height. I have seen John play (twice), but I never saw the mad brilliance of Keith Moon in person.

Roger’s voice had become a little rougher over the years. Roger made note of his voice being especially croaky that night, because the night before they had played Chicago’s House of Blues. They played in front of about 1200 people, “All smoking!” Roger declared. He promised to give us he all that he had and he kept his promise.

Pete mentioned that that night we had, along with them; rock ‘n’ roll, Oprah and masturbation, with a bit of political satire. He told us that he thought we were so spoiled living in the Twin Cities. An area he considered “one of the cultural capitols of the world, if not THE cultural capitol of the world.” The crowd roared its approval, but I thought Pete was laying it on a bit thick. I wondered how many other cities he said that about on that tour. Just call me cynical.

They played most of their big hits. They played them with all the power and energy you would expect from a band as great as The Who. There was a review in one of the local papers the next day that rated the show very highly. The writer made a comparison of the opening act, Counting Crows, and The Who. He stated that the show demonstrated the difference between a good band (his opinion) and a legendary one.

One last thing, as the lights went up and the audience began to file out, Amy turned to me and said, “He’s so sexy!”

“Who? Roger?” I asked, though I should have known better.

“No! Pete!”

Yes, he is.

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