Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Rock'n'Roll Memories - 3 - The Who, The Beginning

Think 1965, probably around November of that year. A new group is in town and sitting at No. 2 in the charts. The Who.

Even as they rocketed to stardom, they had been engaged to do a major Students' Union gig at Southampton University. The location was the old refectory, actually not that old but about to be demolished in favor of a new building. This student cafeteria had low ceilings and walls of glass windows. This made it a veritable reverberation chamber, to be exploited by Pete Townshend, the king of feedback. Alas, Keith Moon was off that night and his stand-in, good as he might have been, was not Keith Moon! But Roger Daltry and Pete Townshend fronted the stage while John Entwhistle "quietly" prowled around with his bass.

Daltry and Townshend put on quite a show. Daltry with his microphone antics which were legendary, Townshend with his windmill chord playing.

The set was long and intense. Some of the crowd boo'ed the stand-in drummer which annoyed Townshend. But he didn't smash any instruments that night and I am not sure whether they had actually started down the road that became a hallmark of performances for several years. It was the shear volume of sound that I still remember. A singing in the ears that lasted for several days. No wonder Pete Townshend has tinnitus and now wears ear plugs when performing.

Of course the big hit was My Generation. You didn't have to be a Mod to appreciate it, though the song, along with much of the band's music, did become considered as "Mod" music. Strange, that, because there were other London bands that were far more "mod" in style and appearance, the Small Faces, for example.

This is the first of two entries on The Who. The next will come much later in the series - the first of their "final" tours!

Earlier Memories: The Yardbirds - Long John Baldry