The Who and Joan Jett & The Blackhearts Concert Review, Austin, TX, April 27, 2015
My brother, Robert (RIP), had one favorite band and that was The Who. While he was the one who got me in to KISS, Alice Cooper, RUSH etc in the 70s, The Who was always top of his list. Through the constant record spinning in the 70s and 80s, I became and remained a fan. Anytime I hear one of their songs, it just punches me in the gut with his memory more so than any of the other bands that he influenced me with. He absolutely loved them and I am pretty sure he never got to see them. I had never seen them before last night either.
Typically when a ticketed show comes to town, I’ll buy 2 as seeing a show with a friend is typically a fun thing to do, but for this show, I wanted to see it alone.
In 10th grade we had to do a book report, written and oral presentation, and I had chosen Full Moon: The Amazing Rock and Roll Life of Keith Moon as a I was a big fan of his frenetic drumming. During the oral presentation, I hung my brother’s Live at Leeds poster behind me and had the tape of that show playing in the background. At the end of the report I quoted one of the last lines in the book which said (paraphrased), “To sum up Keith’s life, he basically upped and fucking died.” Take into consideration that this was a Catholic high school. Ms. Collins, who only lasted on year there, was pretty mousey and was appalled that I had “used such language” and sent me to the principal’s office. I didn’t go. I went to the library and listened to a cassette until the bell rang. The next day I ran into the principal, Sister Ethelreda, in the hall and she immediately had me follow her to her office. I took a pretty good tongue lashing from her about foul language in the classroom etc. I didn’t care. I hated that place and Ms. Collins, who pretty much only spoke to me when she had to for the rest of that year. haha. I ran into her at a mall a few years after high school and spoke to her for a few minutes. I think she was terrified of me.
I’m a pretty big Who fan and prefer their 70s and 80s material more than the 60s stuff. Face Dances, Who’s Next, By Numbers and It’s Hard are my faves.
So here we are at show day. After work I get a ride downtown, grab a happy hour beer then make my way to the venue. I had a pretty decent seat with a side view of the stage, which was perfect as I really wanted to watch their drummer, Zak Starkey. Zak is the son of Ringo Starr, but I couldn’t care less about that and I’m not a Beatles fan at all. BUT…Zak played drums on ASAP’s Silver and Gold album. ASAP stands for Adrian Smith and Project. Yes, THAT Adrian Smith. This is the album he released after leaving Iron Maiden and I think it’s an amazing record from front to back. Great rock album with Adrian on vocals and Zak’s incredible drum work. I highly recommend it.
Joan Jett & The Blackhearts were the openers and while I’m not much of a fan, she put on a really good show and opened with my favorite song of hers, Bad Reputation. She pretty much played everything you’d expect to hear plus a couple of new songs. Her voice sounded great and her band was solid. And before last night, I never noticed how gorgeous her eyes are. Looking at the closeups on the big screen monitors just had me captivated for a bit.
After about a 40 minute set change, The Who come on stage and open with I Can’t Explain and The Seeker. Either before or after the next song, Who Are You, they have to change out one of Pete’s amps. While they’re doing that, he mentions that Jeff Beck was in attendance. He quipped that there was at least one guitar player at the show better than him. It was pretty funny and his delivery was right on. They carried on with their playing through mostly familiar hits sprinkling in a few deeper ones like I’m One, Amazing Journey and Sparks. Eminence Front is one of my fave songs by them and they played it. It was great.
The whole show was great in general. Roger’s and Pete’s voices are still very clear and full of range and I was pleasantly surprised by that. They rolled through 22 songs in about 2 hours and no encore. Impressive for a band of their age. Pino Palladino was on bass. He’s a monster player overall but didn’t do all of The Ox’s runs which I thought was odd. Zak’s drumming was solid. Beastly even. He did a lot of cool stuff but I was surprised and maybe a little let down that he didn’t really do any of Moon’s signature licks. It was most noticeable to me in My Generation. Moon plays a mean shuffle on the ride cymbal in that song but it was nowhere to be found last night. But just getting to finally watch him play was a treat. He did do a few buzz rolls reminiscent of that ASAP album that were awesome.
I’ll admit to getting emotional a few times during the set thinking about my brother. I probably missed him more last night than I have since he died.
Click photos to enlarge.