The Who

The Who

with Unamerican

The Ice Palace, Tampa, FL • September 26, 2000

I had three people vying for the extra ticket to see the Who at the Ice Palace on September 26th, and all of them flaked on me by noon the day of the show. This found me scampering around looking for someone to take the extra ticket, but luckily, I had recently become “online friends” with a girl from the Tonic message board from here in Clearwater, and thankfully, she wanted the extra ticket. It was a happy coincidence, because as it turns out, Denise is very cool and we got along great, so I made a new friend along with getting to see one of my favorite bands while growing up. We arrived at the Ice Palace and were financially raped by having to pay ten bucks just to park, and then were greeted with an outdoor performance by a Who tribute band called the Wholigans. We were about the hear the Real McCoy anyway, so we quickly passed up the tribute band and headed straight into the arena, up the escalator and into our seats in the heavens above the stage. The seats were definitely “nosebleeds,” but it gave us a vantage point to actually see from directly overhead everything that went on onstage.

Opening band was one neither of us had ever heard of called Unamerican, and I would have sworn (from the distance we were viewing from) that the lead singer was Lindsey Buckingham. I can’t tell you whether this opening band was good or bad, because frankly, I don’t remember, so it’s best to say they were not memorable, but more so easily forgettable.

The crowd of mostly middle-agers with their children in tow for “lessons in decent rock n’ roll” roared approval as the lights went down and the legends of rock walked non-chalantly onto the massive stage complete with squiggly lines of effect lighting and blue and green lasers. You probably could have skipped calling this a Who concert and simply renamed the whole event as “the Pete Townshend Show,” as Townshend immediately granted the audience their wish with the now-famous arm swings of rotating wonder as he stroked the strings of the electric guitar in his hands. Spotlights lingered for enormous amounts of time on Townshend and left lead singer Roger Daltrey and bassist John Entwistle in the shadow of the Townshend stage show. I had a hard time understanding this arrangement, as I am a Daltrey fan more than a Townshend fan, and considering the mix of the sound made the guitar almost inaudible. Of course, my not being able to actually hear the lead guitar parts could well have been because of the seats we were in, high above and to the right of the stage where the sound echoed off the ceiling and back down on top of us for second go round. While the effects lighting was excellent, especially during “Pinball Wizard,” the lighting on the band themselves was severely lacking, and showed it on the overhead TV screens by only giving off images of their silhouettes, rather than full, clear shots of their faces. It was all backlighting, and I’m sure played fits for the cameramen and photographers in the pit below the stage.

The real shocker of the show was learning that none other than Ringo Starr’s son was playing for the Who now, replacing the sorely missed Keith Moon. (I did see two girls walking around wearing T-shirts that said, “KEITH MOON LIVES!”) All I gotta say about the younger Starkey is that he seriously makes his daddy look like a toy drummer monkey when it comes to making love to the skins. And this is coming from a die-hard Beatles fan, too! The kid wailed on the drums, and proved he didn’t need daddy’s name to make a name for himself. The show was, basically, a two-hour Who’s Greatest Hits performance, with “Baba O’Reilly,” “Who Are You,” and “Behind Blue Eyes” being the standout tunes of the night. They did falter on harmonies in “You Better You Bet,” but all in all, a great show, with encores of “My Generation” and “Magic Bus.” Worth the escalator ride to the nosebleed zone.

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