Performer: The Who
Songwriter: Pete Townshend
Original Release: White City: A Novel (Pete Townshend)
Definitive Version: Join Together, 1990
Better late than never. That’s the way I approached going to see The Who for the first time in 1989. Sure, it wasn’t going to be like it would have been before Keith Moon died or even when they were still something of a functioning band with Kenney Jones. But it still was The Who, and I finally was going to see them live. Better late than never.
Jin, Scott and I saw them in Cleveland, and for reasons that will be clear later, I’ll tell tell the second half of the story about seeing them for the first time first.
During the show, The Who played a couple songs from Pete Townshend solo albums. It didn’t surprise me, because, well, what else new did they have to offer? I don’t believe Pete would have toured just playing old songs, and I was right. They played Dig from Pete’s new solo album The Iron Man and my favorite Pete solo song (SPOILER ALERT) Rough Boys.
And they played this song, which at the time wasn’t one of my favorite songs. In fact, I didn’t like it at all, although I don’t remember why. When they launched into it, Jin shot me a look of What the Hell? I shrugged.
Then the big band—The Who had no fewer than six extra musicians on stage, like they were the Rolling Stones or something—erupted. John Entwistle dominated on bass, and by the end, Jin, Scott and I were boogeying as though this had been one of our favorite Who songs.
At about the same time that The Who converted me once and for all on this song, our seating arrangement—well, standing arrangement, because we never sat until the whole thing was over—changed a bit.
A couple dudes moved in next to us—the seating was fluid to say the least. They had prepared well for the show, and one of the guys started to become a little amorous with Jin, which she didn’t appreciate. She quickly resolved the situation by moving to the left and shoving two other college-age women next to the guy—a little forceful bait and switch if you will. Safely left alone, Jin went back to rocking out.
This was just fine with the handsy guy. As long as the woman had all the proper female parts, it didn’t matter who was the target of his advances.
The woman who had the misfortune of being placed next to him was just as disinterested, however, as my sister had been. Unfortunately for her, her friend had taken to another guy sitting in front of them, so she was stuck for the rest of the concert, which she just wanted to enjoy without any extra attention—like my sister.
This woman had a fall-back option available: She could have come back one row and been with me, because I had extra room for some reason. I doubt she would have left her friend, even had I invited her, but she did look back a couple of times as the concert progressed. I seemed to be just this guy rocking out to The Who; I was nonthreatening.
At the end of Won’t Get Fooled Again, which was the last song of the regular set, she turned around to give me a high five. She did it again at the end of Twist and Shout, which was the last song of the night, and instead of slapping hands, we clasped them—two Who fans in their glory. The moment ended, and she and her friend left almost the second the lights came on.
At that point, Jin, Scott and I finally sat in the seats that weren’t the ones that were on our tickets, and I realized I was beyond parched. I was in fact hoarse from having hollered the entire night. On the drive home to Columbus, the priority became to stop at a Burger King—not to get any food or even a pot, but to get what later became immortalized as a BFW, which of course is a big effing water.
It wasn’t the best concert I had seen up to that point, I suppose, but what did it matter? I finally saw The Who—better later than never.