Friday, March 01, 2013

Long Live Rock

On the way to see The Who last night it hit me that this could be the last time I was to see them perform as a band. It was the last performance of their US tour and you have to wonder if they would ever be up to another one. So many variables to consider, the least of which is just knowing when to say when. Add the fact that they just spent almost a year playing a massive production of Quadrophenia - a record that was built upon the personalities of the four original members - a show that at times seemed like a career retrospective with archival videos projected on the huge screens and included performances by both John Entwistle and Keith Moon. If this was the note - pure and not so easy - that they would go out on, it would have been a high note to be sure, but it still made me feel a bit melancholy that this might be the wrap up to a relationship that had started when I was a teenager.

 But a funny thing happened on the way to the old Felt Forum. After a blistering set by Elvis Costello, who ran through a parade of classics like the building was on fire, The Who took the stage to perform what was billed as a "greatest hits" show. In actuality, it was little more than the extra songs that they had been playing on the tour to close the shows. But there was a difference last night - a big difference. The huge stage had been stripped down for the smaller venue but the distinct change was that the ghosts stayed backstage. During the tour, one of the highlights of the evening was John Entwistle's bass solo, played "live" thanks to the magic of modern technology as Pino Pallidino, who stepped right into Entwistle's shoes after he passed, respectfully left the stage. However, when they played the song last night, there was no video and it was Pino who brought the thunder. They didn't play "Bell Boy" so Keith's bit wasn't a part of the show, but his god son Zach Starkey made it clear that you can draw a line from the past to the future, bringing something new while embracing the old. Roger was giving his all as he always does. A Who show always lives or dies with Pete, and he was alive and well, going for some of the high notes this time around and wrangling, strangling and slapping his guitar - to the point where I almost thought we might see one meet the stage floor only to be spared at the last moment. 

They had been ending the shows with "Tea and Theater" from "Endless Wire" with only Pete and Roger on stage. That song, with it's retrospective lyrics (we did it all, didn't we?) made you feel that this may be a their swan song. But last night, after ending with "Won't Get Fooled Again," the band lined up across the front of the stage and left us with rock's greatest anthem ringing in our ears.

 It may be all speculation on my part, but it felt as if there was a very conscience effort to show that this was a band with a long history, a loud and proud, history, but that the story is not quite finished. This isn't The Who that was, but The Who that is, here and now and, quite possibly, for another amazing journey somewhere down the line. I know I'm ready for it and as far as The Who - well I can tell you that the kids are alright.

Friday, January 11, 2013

And, we're back ...

It truly is official. I am the world's worst blogger - at least in regard to regular posting. Yet, here I am again, at the beginning of a new year filled with new hope that this will be the start of a regular stream of my thoughts committed to pixels, zeros and ones.

We'll see.

It's January so that means most of my free thoughts are destined to be about Elvis. Not so much about the man himself, but rather about The Elvis Show, a yearly charity event that I host. This will be the third year back at The Boulton Center in Bay Shore, and it looks as if we are headed for yet another sell-out. This year's show is themed "Elvis At The Movies" and consists entirely of songs from his films. I steered clear of the bigger hits - though as the movies progressed there were less and less actual hits involved. We are also doing the entire soundtrack to "King Creole," one of my favorite films and soundtracks.

This year I also picked the songs for most of the performers. I was a bit nervous but it seems like I did a pretty good job. Not going to give out any previews, you'll have to come to the show. We are right in the middle of rehearsals, which always have a festive air about them, extending the holiday season somewhat. This year calls for that extension, more than any other in recent memory. A lot of sad and bad news seemed to be coming from all angles at the end of the year, people passing away, getting sick, all sorts of things. Not to forget about the devastation from Hurricane Sandy and the tragic shooting in Newtown, CT. It seemed like the only news was bad news.

Music has always been there for me whenever I needed to escape from my troubles or validate my actions. That is still the case and I'm hoping that this show will help some friends who have been hit particularly hard recently to at least have a few moments where they can relax and have a laugh or two. God knows they deserve it.