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Review of Pete's show in London last night
Chris Charlesworth sent the following e-mail to me this morning - - his
review of the Pete show he saw in Shepards Bush last night. Chris has long
complained that the UK fans haven't had their share of Pete solo shows and
he was quite excited about going to this one - - and quite happy he did!
>What a show! Actually it makes my blood boil that someone like Eric Clapton
>who might be a better blues guitarist than Pete but is inferior in every
>other respect, as a songwriter, singer, entertainer, bandleader, acoustic
>guitarist, rhythm player and wit, is selling out Earls Court (20,000 seats a
>night for two nights), while Pete is playing at Shepherds Bush Empire
>("Home" as he called it) in front of 2,000 people.
> No matter. It was a superb show. For years I used to review concerts
>for Melody Maker but I don't get much of a chance these days, but if I was
>reviewing it, here's how it might read...
> Sandwiched between a rather tentative reading of Canned Heat's 'On
>The Road Again' and a beautiful solo acoustic version of 'I'm One', Pete
>Townshend spent two and a hour hours reinventing himself and his vast song
>catalogue before an adoring audience at Shepherds Bush Empire last night. In
>his first London concert since performing with his band Deep End in the
>mid-Eighties, Townshend peeled back the years but at the same time
>acknowleged Nineties trends, most notably by bringing on stage a seven foot
>tall rap singer to whip up audience frenzy during the very best version of
>'Who Are You' that these ears have ever heard. Townshend himself was not
>averse to rapping during the music and his inspired ad-libbing on two other
>Who favourites, 'The Kids Are Alright' and 'Anyway Anyhow Anywhere', left no
>doubt that the years have not left this particular rock dinasour behind.
> Other highlights included 'A Friend Is Friend', his moving tribute
>to Ted Hughes, the poet laureate who died last month, a furious 'Pinball
>Wizard' early in the set and a melancholy stab at 'Girl From The North
>Counrty', the traditional folk song generally associated with Bob Dylan.
>Townshend's finger-picking guitar work was immaculate on these introspective
>songs, but the rhythmic flair which powered The Who for two decades has not
>left him, and the volume at which the concert was played gave lie to reports
>that Townshend's hearing is adversely effected by loud rock music. A
>towering 'Won't Get Fooled Again' which closed the show as it did in the
>days of The Who, featuring some furious power-chord work and even a few
>trademark winmill-style arm spinning. Townshend no longer leaps about the
>stage in wild abandon as he once did - he is 53 after all - and he's no
>longer quite as graceful as he once was, but this is nit-picking. His
>enthusiasm is still there and there can't have been a fan in the house who
>didn't feel for him when he told them he'd broken a finger-nail and it hurt
> Midway through the show Townshend dimissed all of the band bar
>keyboard player John Karin (?), brought out a little green book and played
>some old favourites. Although 'Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand' and
>'Substtiute' were the crowd favourites - every one sang along, as they had
>earlier to 'Behind Blue Eyes' - a more interesting choice was probably Eddie
>Cochran's 'Three Steps To Heaven' with its lush, bouncy chords which eximply
>Townshend's greatest strength. Nevertheless, his acoustic work on 'Sheraton
>Gibson' and 'Drowned' was breathtaking. What with a jazz influenced solo
>earlier in the set, it seems Townshend's skills on the guitar have increased
>over the years. For the record, he switched between gold and red Schecter
>Stratocasters and a Gibson J500 acoustic.
> The band played without a drummer, percussion being computer
>triggered by John Karin, but he was ably supported by a diminutive harmoica
>player (Peter Hope Evans), an energetic Columbian five-string bass player,
>Hank the gigantic rapper and Tracy ???? on rhythm guitar and back up vocals,
>who was the choreographer for Tommy on Broadway. Tracy also offered a
>spirited reading of 'Acid Queen' and joined Townshend on a reworked
>'Sensation', both from Tommy.
> It seemd at times as if the show would never end, so vast is the
>reservoir of songs that Townshend can draw on. Other crowd favourites
>included his hit single 'Let My Love Open The Door', 'I Am An Animal' which
>featured more outstanding picking on an unsual tuning, 'Baby Don't You Do
>It', on which the seven foot tall rapper joined in, and 'You Better You
>Bet', the latter day Who hit. Throughout the evening Townshend displayed a
>wry sense of humour, making various references to being on home turf - the
>Empire is stone's throw from Goldhwak Road where the Who performed long
>before fame beckoned - and dealing smartly with a rowdy but good-natured
>crowd, one on whom yelled out 'It's a fuckin' rock and roll concert not a
>fuckin' tea-party' (which this writer, for one, much appreciated!).
> After 'Won't get Fooled Again', dedicated in droll fashion to the
>current UK Labour Party, Townshend left the stage, only to return for a
>final, wild 'Magic Bus', complete with Hank who in the course of his final
>rap name-checked every single song that Townshend had performed, much to his
>amusement. Clearly this was un-rehearsed. Asa final gesture Pete re-appeared
>alone to perform 'I'm One', then left to a standing ovation.
> After the show Pete was nursing a painful finger-end but was still
>in good humour at a back-stage gathering, greeting many old Who friends. It
>seems a crying shame that his current enthusiasm for stage work is limited
>to only one London concert and a charity show down in Cornwall this evening.