THE WHO ANNOUNCE UK TOUR: PERFORMING “QUADROPHENIA” AND MORE
THE WHO, one of rock’s legendary and defining bands, has announced a UK arena tour where they’ll perform their iconic 1973 double album QUADROPHENIA in its entirety, along with a selection of WHO classics. The UK tour follows on from a hugely successful North American tour, praised by press and fans alike as probably the definitive interpretation of Quadrophenia and “a rock ‘n’ roll lover’s dream come true” (Telegram.com, Boston). “QUADROPHENIA is their (The Who’s) boldest and most fully realized albums,” writes Rolling Stone, “but it’s never quite gotten the live show it deserves – until now”.
The critically acclaimed QUADROPHENIA marked the British band’s second rock opera (after Tommy), raised the bar for rock albums as an art form, hit #2 on the UK album chart and massively influenced the future of UK style, fashion and culture – from Paul Weller to Bradley Wiggins, from Paul Smith to Noel Gallagher. The album’s title is a variation on the popular usage of the medical diagnostic term schizophrenia and exemplifies the four varying personalities of the band members who created the album. IGN placed QUADROPHENIA at No. 1 on its list of the greatest classic rock albums of all time and Q magazine placed QUADROPHENIA on its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever. It features such classic WHO songs as “The Real Me,” “5:15” and “Love Reign o’er Me.”
The band, founded in 1964, brought together four different personalities and in effect produced a musical hurricane. Each of them was a pioneer. Wildman drummer Keith Moon beat his kit with a chaotic elegance; stoic bassist John Entwistle held down the center with the melodic virtuosity of a solo guitarist; raging intellectual Pete Townshend punctuated the epic universality of his songs with the windmill slamming of his fingers across his guitar strings; and Roger Daltrey roared above it all with an impossibly virile macho swagger. They exploded conventional rhythm and blues structures, challenged pop music conventions, and redefined what was possible on stage, in the recording studio, and on vinyl.
The film QUADROPHENIA starred a young Sting, Phil Daniels, Ray Winstone, Trevor Laird and Lesley Ash. John Lydon (Rotten) was screen tested for a part, but the idea was dropped when insurance became an issue! QUADROPHENIA became one of the key influential, independent British movies, alongside other gritty real life films (known as ‘angry young man films’), like “Scum”, “The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner” and “Look Back In Anger”.
This new concert version of QUADROPHENIA, personally directed by Roger Daltrey, focuses on the original album and replaces the narrative used in previous stage versions with powerful imagery projected on an array of massive screens, designed to support, complement and propel the musical content of the work by setting it in the context of the history of the band. This is achieved to startling effect. “Quadrophenia and its coming-of-age story unfolded in songs that blended nuance and noise, a spectacle grand and gritty,” writes the Orlando Sentinel.
The Who’s 8-date UK tour features founding members ROGER DALTREY and PETE TOWNSHEND, who will be joined by Zak Starkey (drums), Pino Palladino (bass), Simon Townshend (guitar/backing vocals), John Corey (keyboards), Loren Gold (keyboards/backing vocals) and Frank Simes (musical director, keyboards/backing vocals).
To book tickets log on to www.echoarena.com or call the Echo Arena Box Office on 0844 8000 400. Tickets are priced at £70/£65/60 subject to a booking / handling fee.
Why do you think the music, the themes of “Quadrophenia”–both the album and film adaptation–resonate so strongly today?
In 1972 I was twenty-eight, writing about London and Brighton in 1963 and 1964 when the band was just starting. I was still young enough to remember how it felt to be sixteen or seventeen, and at war with my parents, bosses and authority. I could still remember that feeling of struggling to fit in, something that happened to me when I was even younger, around fourteen, and everyone around me seemed to have got their lives on track. This is such a universal experience for young people that it has echoed.
(It also seems that many of the first fans of the album don’t want to let it go; it connects them now, just as it did the band, with the important emotions and frustrations of growing up, the poignancy of it all. The film took the musical journey into the real world, and gave it flesh. That could have been a problem, but the Mod look is subtle, and cool, and so it doesn’t suffer the way some other youth films have. I’ve come to appreciate that the film has become almost more important than the album in some ways, especially in the visual age we live in.)
–In this singles-driven digital age, there are artists now singing the praises of the album as an art-form and playing their own albums from front-to-back onstage. Since ‘Quadrophenia’ represents the album aesthetic in its highest form, what are your thoughts about the importance of albums these days for artists and audiences?
Mod was over in the South of England by the spring of 1965, and in a sense the band had changed too. We were less pure, less an R&B band and becoming more of a singles-oriented pop band. So there is an irony in the fact that when I decided we needed to reconnect with that vitally important and colourful period of our career, and our lives as young men trying to pursue a dream of becoming famous and respected, I realised I would need a double album. I’m pleased to hear about artists who uphold the album as an art-form.
Album. Art. The questioner’s words here, but I have often been ridiculed for using them about pop music in the past. The digital medium is only just starting to lend itself to long form work. So I expect to see more of it. It was once thought new music fans had a low attention span; but what they reveal is immense commitment to researching what touches them most deeply, and as the internet gets faster they can find what they seek more quickly. Once a connection is made, it can be extremely deep and long-lasting. This is really just another echo: this is how it was back in the ’60s. Singles first, then albums. Maybe the preponderance of singles on the internet has made the album feel special again? Maybe the old way of listening to music – in longer sittings – is finding its way back into vogue? A journey, for example, is an opportunity to listen to something longer, and easy to carry mobile music has made that possible.
–Which are your favorite songs from “Quadrophenia” to perform live and why?
I really love playing all of it. It’s a unique piece for me in that. Some Who music is nightmarish to perform live. Roger has some very tough songs to sing, and he must have preferences. But for me on guitar everything falls under the fingers. It flows naturally, and I always feel proud of my achievement as the writer, that I put it all together and gave the band a third wind. The real high point for me is always the final song ‘Love Reign O’er Me.’ Roger and I now stand almost alone together, representing not only the original band, but also its Mod audience, and of course all our other early fans. We are connected by it, in what is the most clear cut prayer for redemption, and it feels like an acknowledgment that rock music has managed to deal with the highest emotional challenge: spiritual desperation.
–What else can fans expect to hear on the upcoming tour?
We plan to close the show with a few of the really well-known anthems, and maybe some last minute surprises. These will be as much a surprise to me as to our audience because this is an area I tend to leave to Roger; he’s very good at it.