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1 April 2010 6,039 views 2 Comments

Above: The Who and guests – March 30th 2010   photo Gary Foy.

On Saturday November 3rd 1973, I went into Harlequin Records in Bedford and purchased the just released double album by The Who titled Quadrophenia.

Getting it home and glancing through the bleak sleeve booklet with it’s stark black and white images depicting the life of Jimmy the Mod, I knew this was no ordinary record. The music throughout the four sides captured The Who with power, compassion and intensity. Back then the Quadrophenia themes of adolescent isolation, despair and redemption resonated deep with me as a 17 year old holed up in my bedroom.

Qudrophenia of course went on to be a big box office success in the film adaptation starring Phil Daniels. That version though is an entirely different proposition from The Who’s original record.   

I hadn’t played it for some time until just recently. Being lucky enough to invest in tickets for The Who’s final night of the Teenage Cancer Trust shows, it was time to get re acquainted. Seeing Quadrophenia performed in its entirety on Tuesday night at the Royal Albert Hall, that same sense of power, compassion and intensity was once again apparent throughout what was a remarkable gig.

Before the show  Gary F, Tom and I mixed it with the Who fan fraternity over at the Queens Arms. It was quickly apparent this bunch were no less enthusiastic in their following of The Who than ours for Zep – with fans from all corners of the world converging on Albert’s Place for one (maybe the last?) blast of The Who. In particular an American fan named Ozzy complete with Townshend style 70’s boiler suit decorated wth the Quadrophenia sleeve.  Had a quick chat with Dougal Butler who was Keith Moon’s right hand man in the peak years and Gary F. noticed Tommy film director Ken Russell queuing by the guest list. Seb Coe power walked his way around a corridor prompting Tom to try for a photo opportunity but he was no Steve Ovett and Seb sped off –thoughts of the Olympics 2012 no doubt in his head.

It was a brave move by Roger and Pete to present this opera like song cycle in it’s entirety with no break. Thanks to a vivid backdrop with face to camera narration from the Jimmy character and elaborate images, it was easy to track Quadrophenia’s emerging story. It gave this grand affair a seamless production akin to a West End theatre production.

Highlights included The Punk And The Godfather with Peal Jam’s Eddie Vedder guesting and Kasabian’s Tom Meighan taking on the original Keith Moon role in Bell Boy. The finale of Love Rein O’er Me was a suitably regal close to one of the most intensive live performances I’ve witnessed in a very long time. Throughout it all, Daltrey and Townshend performed with a verve and flair that defied their advancing years.

There were hopes of a encore and I moved into an appropriate position near the stage in readiness (don’t worry, a stage dive was not on the cards this time – not with my aching legs!). Alas there was no return – The Who had done exactly what was on the ticket.

Above: DL May stage diving with The Who, May 25th 1978 Shepperton Studios. There was no repeat performance on Tuesday night.

This may have baffled some of the crowd, but a greatest hits performance was never the intention. This was The Who lost in the pure emotion of one of their most ambitious compositions. They are unlikely to ever perform it live in this format again. Indeed there are rumours that any future live appearances will be severely limited due to Pete’s hearing problems.

What ever happens next, It was an absolute thrill to see the complete Quadrophenia unfold for one final time – and those themes of isolation, despair and redemption seemed just as relevant on Tuesday night as they did when I first heard this timeless Who album back in my bedroom in 1973.

Last weekend as you will have seen on the site, Boot Led Zeppelin did an excellent job of kicking off the Earls Court 35th anniversary. Keep an eye on the site for news soon of the special limited edition Earls Court T. shirts that I aim to have ready in May.  Elsewhere it was good to see the announcement of  Robert’s US tour plans  – and the arrival here of a few CD gems for me soak up –more Alan Freeman and Radio One shows (thank you GD) the  late 60s Jackie Lomax  album on Apple (thank you JP), Some great Who stuff including the rare Two’s Missing (thank you Luke P.) and a tasty Led Zeppelin Live in 1975 CDR compilation via GF which will keep me going as the EC at 35 May Daze run in commences.

Have to say it’s not really been the best of weeks here – I’ve had trouble throwing off a nasty cold which has slowed things down somewhat. We also have a major concern as Janet’s Dad has unfortunately suffered a stroke this week and is very poorly in hospital – he is in his early 90’s so it’s a very worrying situation.

Can’t believe its Easter already. Enjoy the extended break this weekend.

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  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Thanks for those comments. Well I guess as Zep were not touring that year I had to do something! I was certainly in the right place at the right time – and the wine intake greatly assisted my leap of faith for sure! Eddie was looking and sounding great at the Royal Albert Hall.

  • Brendan Castle said:

    I’m still in awe of that 1978 pic and the film of you jumping on stage hugging Pete. I remember when I was 14 back in 1984 wishing it was me WHO got to do that- funny how I became a fan of Tight But loose and your books not long after I saw the Kids are Alright- and I’m like, “It’s the same guy!!” I saw Pearl Jam play “The Real Me” and “Love Reign O’er Me” in L A for the VH1 WHO Rock Honors show- It was one of the greatest moments I witnessed in Rock history. Nice job Dave!

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