Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Who Plays Quadrophenia at Dublin's O2

Last night at the O2 in Dublin the Mods came to pay homage to Roger Daltry and Pete Townshend. The playing of the complete album Quadrophenia was the draw that brought all the old Mods out of the woodwork, and many from the accents had travelled over from the UK.

As the crowd gathered near the O2 at Harry's Bar outside in the sunshine and upstairs in The Gibson Hotel Bar all evidence could be seen that old Mods never die and that for them this was 'a way of life'.
As a new word was created for a collective, a "Perry of Mods", I was told that never had more Fred Perry's been seen in one place outside Arnott's menswear section. Also in evidence were a fine selection of Weller style hairdos, a token number of Parkas (it was a bright sunny day so come on!), Many pairs of Desert Boots plus token representation of two-tone trousers, button-down collar shirts, target images and three button jackets. It was a joy to see and not a bit unlike turning up at a fancy dress party.

Moving into the O2 the tension was building. Despite tickets still being available on the day from Ticketmaster the stadium was over 90% full and the reception for Roger and Pete when they came on stage was electric. Playing through the whole Quadrophenia album from start to finish was an experience that will not be forgotten. Roger Daltry gave his all, starting the show in a loose jacket, shedding this for a white shirt underneath which ended up open to the waist as he belted out the songs for all he was worth. Pete Townshend was amazing- the man is a monster on stage, still windmilling like a crazed thing and bashing away at his guitar with a fierce energy. The opening sounds of the sea breaking in I Am The Sea was the signal that the show was to begin, the lights came up and Roger belted out "Can you see the real me? Can ya, can ya?" and the show had begun. Following the album we had The Real Me, Quadrophenia, Cut My Hair, The Punk and the Godfather and I'm One. The images and film on the stage screens were making this real theatre; 60s images, stills from the movie, early photos of the band- all added to the atmosphere.   


Simon Townshend, Pete's brother, sang The Dirty Jobs followed by Helpless Dancer, Is It In My Head, I've Had Enough and on to the amazing track that is 5.15. The brass section came into their own and beefed up the backing with their great refrain and Roger was "Out of my brain on the 5.15". Also  known to be the song where John Entwhistle was given his chance to solo, true to their acknowledgement of past members the large screen showed John playing his solo turn and was wildly rewarded by the audience. Sea and Sand and Drowned led into Bellboy. The question of who would voice Keith Moon's lyrics was answered when the film footage of Moon the Loon himself came up over the stage from the original recording; the audience went wild and applauded in appreciation. Roger turned to the film images acknowledging Keith and John and the whole audience was satisfied- no-one could have taken their places.

Dr Jimmy and The Rock were followed by the final refrains of Love Reign O'er Me, and as we heard this we knew the magic of seeing the staging of Quadrophenia was coming to a close.


But the audience was still to be rewarded with a few old hits. The band was introduced and we were told "It's been too long". Following the mammoth effort that these old geezers had exerted with the Quadrophenia performance they lashed into part two with gusto to perform Who Are You? (Who, who- who who!), Behind Blue Eyes, Pinball Wizard, Baba O'Riley and  Won't Get Fooled Again. The crowd was on its feet, the stadium was hopping and the energy radiating off the stage was infectious.

The band was clapped and all left except the ole gits, the magic chemistry over all these years that is the voice of Roger Daltry plus the guitar and lyrics that is Pete Townshend. It was a privilege to have seen them and the closing song of Tea and Theatre from their 2006 album Endless Wire, with its great lyrics and a perfect vehicle for appreciating the true strength of Daltry's voice and the poignant line of  "We played them as one we're older now" was a great moment. The evening was over, the Mods went home and we all felt better for having seen great legends at work. As Roger said "We're just glad to still be standing".

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