It really sucks getting stuck in the elevator of the parking deck when you want to go catch The Who.
We got to Newark a few minutes after 7:00pm and decided to save 10 bucks and pay a mere $30 to park in the deck instead of $40 to park in the lot on the street. We drove up to the fifth level to finally find an empty spot and the couple who got on the elevator about 30 seconds ahead of us saw us coming and were kind enough to hold the door open.
Got in, hit the ground floor button and sort of felt a slight vibration start but it did not seem like we were moving. The quick laugh at first turned to nervous giggle and then annoyance. The fucking elevator was stuck. Tried every button. Pushed the alarm for a minute straight...nothing.
We're about three minutes in now and the woman of the couple who held the door tells us she is going to have an anxiety attack if she can't get out soon. Crap.
Opened the little door for the emergency phone which rang and rang and no one answered. The woman's husband called 911. I called the number posted in the elevator. We both were told someone would be sent right over.
About 10 minutes in now and we happen to notice that vibration is us actually moving literally about an inch every 15 seconds or so as through the crack in the door we could see we were between floors and could see it moving very very slowly down.
My buddy's wife jokingly (I think, hell I hope she wasn't doing it seriously, but it was crazy either way) jumped up and down to try and get it moving faster and totally freaked out the other woman...this was a hell of a way to potentially miss seeing The Who for what almost definitely would be the last time.
About five minutes later the elevator reached the fourth floor and the doors opened. We got out and walked down the rest of the way. As we walked outside we heard the sirens, but this is Newark, not sure if it's still the murder capitol of the country, so maybe it was our elevator rescuers or just a typical Saturday night.
Anyway, I hummed "I'm Free" to myself as we walked to the arena, we'd now have to pass on eats at the pizza joint and just get inside.
I had ordered our tix about three days before the show. Went with the cheap seats ($63 including service charges) and was surprised how good they were. Third row on the aisle close to the stage at about the 9 o'clock position. I expected there would be plenty of empty seats up by us based on this, but damn if this show wasn't close to sold out. The only blocks of empty seats I saw were here and there in the mid-level under us.
I guess like me and my buddy Kev (and his jumping wife) we all knew this was probably going to be it for seeing The Who one last time in the NY/NJ area.
This was one of the rescheduled shows that was to take place around October or November of last year and the one bummer was that Joan Jett was no longer opening. I've seen Joan plenty of times and she is always great, but instead of going in to see replacement opener Tal Wilkenfeld, we got some beer and sliders and checked out the merchandise. We went in to our seats about 8:30. The Who would come on fifteen minutes later.
This tour is titled "The Who hits 50," although because of the delay Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey would joke later it's now "hits 51".
Speaking of this joking, I have to say of the seven or eight times I've previously seen
The Who, I've never seen them so chatty and jovial on stage. Before even starting the opening "Who Are You" in what would prove to more or less be a greatest hits set, Pete came out telling the audience how happy he was to be in New Jersey and remembering the shows at the Capitol Theatre (in Passaic) where a young Bruce Springsteen would watch from side stage. Bruce and other specific references to past Jersey shows would be brought up through out the show.
"Who Are You" is a strong opener, but was followed up by one of my personal favorites "The Seeker" (video below).
Next they talked about their early days and first hits and played of trio of their earliest singles with almost "Storytellers" type intros for The Kids Are Alright, I Can See For Miles and a fantastic My Generation, which I often feel at many shows doesn't come off strong in the live setting but this was a really solid version.
Next was the lead off track from what appears to obviously be Pete's favorite album of theirs, "Quadrophenia" with "The Real Me". Later in the set Pete would talk about the modern approach to music and the demise of "the album" and how if released today, mostly likely no one would take notice or care about "Quadrophenia" as albums are not given the time to grow on you anymore.
Roger then talked at length about Pete's ability to write pop songs which encapsulated a full story into three minutes and how this was a favorite as they played "Pictures of Lily"
Next up was a pair from one of the Who's most popular albums, "Who's Next," starting with "Behind Blues Eyes" and followed by what Pete said was his favorite track off the album, "Bargain".
This led into a pair of audience sing-a-long songs with "Join Together" and "You Better You Bet" followed by three from "Quadrophenia" starting with "I'm One" and ending with the album closers "The Rock" and "Love Reign O'er Me."
While Townshend is the song writing/guitar playing genius behind The Who, I feel the success of their tours is very much dependent upon Daltrey being able to deliver the powerful vocals. Overall on this night he did just that, but there are two key screams one always looks for. The final one in "Won't Get Fooled Again" and the wailing "love" to end Reign. Daltrey did not attempt this one, but hit the still impressive one previously in the song and so far was the only time in the show there was any noticeable potential issue with being able to handle the vocals.
"Eminence Front" was up next followed by an abbreviated 18 minute version of "Tommy" with "Amazing Journey" into "Sparks" into "Pinball Wizard" into "See Me Feel Me." This was another fantastic high point of the show for me and video of this mini-set is below.
If there was going to be an encore break it would be now, but why waste time and go into overtime fees (as Roger would mention at the end of the show).
It was time to bring it all home with almost everyone on their feet for "Baba O'Riley" and the set ending "Won't Get Fooled Again."
Daltrey NAILED the final scream.
A full two hour set and the band spent the last few minutes before eleven basking in the applause and Pete thanking the crowd to the point where he cut himself off as he was getting choked up and tears were in his eyes and running down his face. Roger stepped up and said the final good nights.
There was no "We'll see you next time" on this night. It appears Roger and Pete felt the same thing we did, this was probably it for the Who in this area. It was very bittersweet, but a hell of a way to go out if this is it.
Here's the full set:
Who Are You
The Kids Are Alright
I Can See For Miles
The Real Me
Pictures of Lily
Behind Blue Eyes
You Better You Bet
Love Reign O'er Me
See Me, Feel Me
Won't Get Fooled Again
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