Freddie Matthews writes from London: It caught my attention the other day that The Who are touring again this year. It’s not just any old tour but they’re performing their iconic 1973 double album Quadrophenia, from start to finish. By all accounts the remaining 2 original band members, Roger Daltrey and Pete Townsend, as well as the rest of the band, will also perform many of the old and bold classics to help bolster the set list.
Over 100 million record sales was no coincidence for one of the 5 most iconic British bands ever. The Who burst onto the music scene in 1964 with a group of talented youngsters including the still going strong Roger Daltrey (lead vocals and guitars) and Pete Townsend (guitar, vocals and keys) and – at the time but in the present day no longer living – Keith Moon (drums and vocals) and John Entwistle (bass, brass and vocals). The Who quickly rose to fame with a string of top 10 hit singles including: I Can’t Explain, My Generation, Substitute, I’m A Boy, Happy Jack, Pictures Of Lily, I Can See For Miles and Pinball Wizard (a song written by Pete Townsend which also became a top 10 hit for Elton John 6 years later). Success in the US followed just a few years after the UK, with the 1969 album Tommy becoming The Who’s first top 10 album in the States.
Quadrophenia was the 6th album and originally released in October 1973. It’s considered to be The Who’s second most successful rock opera after Tommy, which was around some 4 years earlier. At the time the album Tommy had a huge influence on British culture, fashion and style of the late 1960s and went on to affect the likes of Noel Gallagher, Paul Weller and even the fashion guru Paul Smith.
By 1978, the year of iconic drummer Keith Moon’s death, The Who had released 8 albums, of which 7 were top 10 sellers and they’d also had 11 top 10 singles. To this day Keith Moon remains a drumming legend, despite having died over 35 years ago. His style was unique, his presence and personality like no other and his legacy unrivalled. It’s sad that The Who had just 3 weeks before released their biggest and fastest selling album, Who Are You, but naturally Moon’s death at just 32 years old, in his sleep on 7 September, overshadowed everything the band were celebrating at that time. Nicknamed ‘Moon The Loon’ Keith Moon was renowned for his exuberant and innovative drumming style. With incredible ambidextrous double bass drum work, his eccentric often self-destructive behaviour often resulted in the demolition of all the band’s musical instruments. But then I suppose at the peak of their career money wouldn’t have been an issue. Ultimately after stories of his use of dynamite to explode toilets, throwing TVs out of hotel windows and driving a Rolls-Royce into a swimming pool, Moon was given the title of Rock ‘n Roll’s premier hellraiser and he even inspired the band name of Led Zeppelin!
The 1973 Quadrophenia album was first revived in 1996 and why wouldn’t a band with The Who’s stature want to invite a whole new generation to experience and enjoy their music? The first show was in Hyde Park and its success led to a six-night residency at Madison Square Garden. This success led to a US and European tour during 1996 and 1997. Now in 2013, this new version of the Quadrophenia tour, directed by Roger Daltrey, is focused on the original album and replaces the previously used narrative with powerful imagery depicting the history of the band onto massive projector screens.
If this appeals to the rocker in you then here are the shows for Quadrophenia Ireland and UK Tour:
- June 8th Dublin The O2
- June 10th Belfast Odyssey
- June 12th Glasgow SECC
- June 15th London The O2
- June 18th Sheffield Motorpoint Arena
- June 20th Newcastle Metro Arena
- June 23rd Manchester Arena
- June 25th Cardiff Motorpoint Arena
- June 28th Birmingham LG Arena
- June 30th Liverpool Echo Arena
Do we really need The Who touring again, you might ask? I actually think it’s a superb thing to have them on the road once more in 2013. Regardless of the boost to their bank balance, to see live music is everything, not just for the fans but also to invite a whole new generation to experience some of the best music ever from the 1970s.
Make the most of this opportunity because you never know – with Daltrey at 68 and Townsend at 67 years old – it may well be their last ever tour.
It’s difficult to find fault with such music genius and yet it surprised me to find out that The Who only ever released 11 studio albums between 1965 and 2006.
The Quadrophenia tour is proven: it was a successful album, film, stage show and DVD and quite literally a piece of British music history. In fact a legacy.