Germany shows -- Munich, Leipzig, Hamburg, Oberhausen

Alan McKendree amck at
Sun Jun 24 17:09:18 CDT 2007

Shari and Tim H have already reported on Munich, so I don't have a  
lot to add to that.  Met Christian Suchatski (of  
fame) outside the venue, who said that German TV had just filmed a  
news segment about his Who collection.  At his recommendation, the  
crew came around to the line and talked to some people, and I  
understand the German nation saw me saying "The Who hat mein Leben  
gewechselt."  (I also said they used to be the most dangerous beast  
in rock-n-roll, but apparently they didn't use that quote :-).  Pete  
seemed in a good mood but I had a pit speaker on a pedestal aimed  
right at my face, which didn't do much for me.

Some didn't like The Cult, but I grew to like them...their vocals on  
their opener "Sweet Soul Sister" were difficult to execute and always  
spot on, and the track ("I, Assassin") they played from their  
upcoming CD was very nice with outstanding drum work.  The frontman  
was said he was there to see The Who and they were honored to open  
for them, so full marks for props to the masters.  All in all, one of  
the very few opening acts I've ever seen that wasn't a chore to sit  
through -- Casbah Club, The Pretenders, and Skynyrd being the only  
others I can think of.

Did the videos for Mirror Door always have pictures of the named  
musicians?  Probably did, but I didn't remember that from '06.  I was  
disappointed but not surprised to see that our guys have gone to  
their comfort-zone setlist.  The Real Me and 5:15 are long gone,  
along with Eminence Front. YBYB is back in, apparently to stay.   
Seeker has found a place in the Opening Unholy Trinity, which suits  
me fine.  I actually saw Substitute on the setlist in Oberhausen, but  
when the time came it was again The Seeker, make of that what you  
will.  Munich was a fine show.  Looked like the back 25% or so of the  
seats were  blocked off, so maybe 10,000 people.  We were all  
wondering how Roger would do, as Munich was the first show after the  
Verona snafu, but his voice held up just fine.  As we have previous  
reports on this, I'll gloss over it, except to say it was great to  
see Tim and Sue and meet their kids.  And yes, it's a pain at a GA  
show when the tickets don't get to the will-call window until after  
the doors open :-P.

Leipzig was an experience on top of an experience...the former East  
Germany.  We got there a day early and tried to find the city centre,  
but it was hiding.  Lots of dark streets with almost no open shops or  
traffic...on Friday night!  After the show, we walked around a bit  
and the city looked like a science-fiction set where everyone had  
died...big wide streets with almost no cars or people out...on  
Saturday night!  I saw one big turn-of-the-century solid stone  
building, 3 stories tall and almost a city block in footprint,  
abandoned with many windows smashed out, just slowly rotting away in  
the elements.

I'd thought the show would be on a lawn in front of the  
Völkerschlactdenkmal, but it turned out the "lawn" was actually a  
long reflecting pool, and for the show they blocked off the parking  
lot and part of the adjoining street!  Yes, the mighty 'Oo are now  
playing parking lots. We were worried about rain and it did actually  
shower a bit during the day, but by showtime the streets were dry and  
the sky was wall-to-wall blue. For whatever reason, Pete seemed to be  
in a great mood and the show was the best of the four I saw.  During   
RGLB, while Roger was doing the usual monologue about it being a  
tribute to Elvis, Pete comically sagged behind his guitar as if he  
were unspeakably weary and did this "on with it" circling hand  
gesture, which turned into a wanking gesture.  We were, of course,  
delighted, but I have to wonder how/whether Roger will appreciate  
that if it gets back to him.  During Wire & Glass, when Pete sang the  
line "They made my dream come true", he did it with a sour sneer and  
an accusatory was a whole new interpretation, saying that  
the music industry's "starmaker machinery" took his naïve teenage  
dream of "stardom in Acton" and *made* it come true, whether he  
wanted it or not (and might not have pursued had he known at the time  
what it would involve).  One of the major highlights of this show was  
possibly the best Relay I've ever seen, just smoking jams in it.  And  
in My Generation, for the fourth bar of the bass solo, Pino  
played...silence!!  It's almost impossible to imagine how that  
sounds, given the sound that's ingrained in all of our heads.  We  
gave him a huge ovation but I don't think he saw it.  That was maybe  
the most appreciative I've ever been of him.  It's taken me 5 years  
to be able to say it, but Pino is now playing bass that I enjoy  
hearing.  This is the show to buy on DVD (of Munich/Leipzig/Hamburg/ 

In Hamburg, we got the rain we'd feared in Leipzig.  It rained for  
over two hours just before show time, but again -- must be something  
to do with heating/cooling during the day -- by showtime the rain and  
clouds were gone.  The Freilichtbühne is a little stage stuck into  
some woods in the huge, beautiful city park...I sympathized with the  
setup crew, as the venue really isn't well set up for industrial- 
strength rock-n-roll shows.  Only one truck at a time can back into  
the loading area, and they have to block off one or more lanes of the  
main street that runs along the park when the trucks move.  However,  
we had other things to worry about, like the show.  the opening act  
this time (and only thie time) was not The Cult -- our speculation  
was that the venue held so few people (4,000-5,000) that the promoter  
didn't want to pay them.  In any case, they had a single guy play an  
solo acoustic set.  He spoke perfect German and English, and was very  
entertaining and talented -- people liked him as well or better than  
The Cult.   As for The Who, however, this was probably the least  
satisfying show of the four, for everyone.  The stage was small, and  
had a relatively low metal roof.  Pete said it was like playing in a  
matchbox and almost immediately had problems with the sound.  He  
changed guitars, then yelled at Alan R, who yelled back; then Pete  
started yelling at Bobby.  He was obviously trying to adjust the  
onstage sound either with a new guitar or the monitors, but it wasn't  
happening.  All the major jams were truncated.  Also, there was about  
12 feet of lawn between the stage and the retaining wall, then the  
barricade, so the band was more detached from the audience than in  
other shows.  One high spot: Pete and Zak have started sharing soloes  
(2 for Zak, 2 for Pete) on the lead-in to the WGFA scream, and Zak's  
second one was so over-the-top that Pete did a little dance back at  
him, imitating the speed of his drumming.

In Oberhausen, we were back to a proper arena, so weather wasn't a  
concern.  Perversely, the weather was <start Mikey accent> gwawjus  
<end Mikey accent>.  Saw some friends from the Leipzig shows, and the  
triumphant return engagement of the Dutch Mob -- Bjorn, Henk, Jelle  
and his sons Dennis and Carlos, Fred, Kees, Niko, Eileen, the famous  
Reggy Tan, etc. etc.  Only Gitta was missing, due to a photography  
excursion to Afghanistan.  We were wondering how Roger would do on  
the second show in two nights.  Turned out his voice was fine --  
which is to say, by the end of the show he has almost nothing left --  
but his brain wasn't entirely.  He almost broke down entirely in  
giggles after forgetting the words to BBE.  He started playing the  
fast break on his guitar when the rest of the band was just starting  
the second verse, and they had to vamp until he got back on  
track...he cracked up laughing more than once before he could  
resume.  Kudos to the video engineer, though; the video ended right  
on time.  Roger attributed that to a "senior moment" but there were  
more to come.  In Purple Dress, he sang, "Your staff, your stick,  
your special CRAP", giving it the full contemptuous emphasis, then  
had nowhere to go for "They'll protect in hell?  what crap!".  Pete  
gave him a sympathetic look after the song ended. I think there was  
one other minor fluff, but I can't remember it.  I also remember him  
having a bit of that wide-eyed, need-a-breath look after finishing  
the harmonica of Baba.  But he got spontaneous applause (well  
deserved, and which I don't recall ever hearing before) for one of  
his sustained, roared notes, which was in fact longer than usual, in  
Tea & Theatre.  Pete was on fire again.  Relay got the full  
treatment, WGFA got the double coda, and at least two times he walked  
out in front of the monitors to the edge of the stage and windmilled  
and jammed just out of reach of a forest of furiously thrashing fists.

Afterward we went around to the loading dock to wave our goodbyes.   
After a suitably long delay, Pete came out and signed a photo for a  
fan.  It was very dark and I couldn't see him well, but he waved to  
the group.  But when he got in the limo and sank into the back seat,  
with the dome light on his face, he looked dead...head thrown back,  
mouth open, eyes shut, the picture of exhaustion.  I don't know if  
every show takes this much out of him (maybe it's been like that for  
twenty years, who knows?) but it really pointed out how hard he has  
to work.  And it makes me wonder how long he can continue to pay that  
price to give us the kinds of shows we expect.

Alan McKendree
"the average Texan...carries not just a gun but a SHOTGUN."  --Pete  
Townshend, 1967

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