stateless: (who)
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the who // long beach // 26 feb 2007

to me, the mark of a good concert is when a band can make your jaw drop or the top of your head come off. and the mark of a good band is when they can do this repeatedly, no matter how many times you see them. ok, i've only seen the who three times. but still. we were across the fucking arena (which is seriously tiny, so it's not like we were that far) and there were numerous times when i felt i could just burst from the amount of energy plowing through the place. i think i use different bands for different purposes, different forms of therapy, and this one for me is explosive, sheer joy. i felt a little weird after it dawned on me U2 in hawaii was the last show i saw - i hadn't even noticed. by the end of the third song, i was hit with the realisation of not only just how happy i was in that moment, but how hungry i was for the experience without even knowing. some sort of deficiency.


can't explain
the seeker
anyway, anywhere, anyhow
who are you
behind blue eyes
real good looking boy
wire & glass
sound round
pick up the peace
endless wire
we got a hit
they made my dream come true
mirror door
baba o'riley
eminence front
man in a purple dress
black widow's eyes
you better you bet
my generation/cry if you want/
won't get fooled again
naked eye
pinball wizard/
amazing journey/
see me feel me/
listening to you
tea and theatre

the band waltzed on stage somewhat nonchalantly, settling themselves before ripping into 'can't explain'. early footage of the band on the screen, hitting me this time how beautiful that is - even they are celebrating the music, their past, the magic of the '60s. both that and 'the seeker' brought about a lot of flashbacks to last time and the buzz of being right up in front.

i don't remember 'anyway, anywhere, anyhow' feeling like this before. it started with a close up on the screens of pete's pick rubbing sideways on the strings right next to the bridge of his red strat, and it grew and grew, by the end so pulsing and alive i couldn't stand it.

pete's big, black rockstar sunglasses finally came off for 'fragments'. over zak's head on the screen waves crashed on rocks, conveying exactly what it should. beautiful, calming, serene.

"it's great to be back in los angeles," pete drawled. ".. or long beach. it's great here, close to the sea. you can smell the ozone. [!] nah, it's a clean state. .. with filthy people. but we love you for that. this is.. you'll know it when you hear it."

'who are you', camera out the front window of a train, speeding along the tracks of london. it looked different than before, after the time spent in the city in november, but the feeling was the same. freedom resting somewhere between my heart and my throat, pressing against my chest cavity from the inside out. something about the combination of the dips and dives of the guitar, pete swinging his arm and jumping like a lunatic, and the ever-barreling train - if you raised your arms you might fly.

the sound of pete's and simon's guitars for 'behind blue eyes' was unbelievably beautiful. the band took it higher, roger still meaning every word, pete with the perfect higher harmony. the crowd cheered so loud it gave me chills.

"i sing this song about.." roger started, and simply from that i knew what it would be. i held my breath cos i dared not hope, but just from the way he said it, the way he meant it, it would have to be 'real good looking boy'. ".. seeing a man on tv, singing, with a guitar." knowing that's what he wanted to do, what he had to do. oh god, yes. "and that man was.. ELVIS." at that i exhaled, doubling over, unable to believe my luck. at the start of the weaved-in chord progression to 'can't help falling in love', shaking, just shaking. projections of elvis' face flanking the stage, video of him and priscilla on their wedding day, complimenting the simple beauty of the song quite nicely. now i know how so-called beauty lies. i can't say what this was to me.

pete stopped to talk to us for a bit, how this is a long tour, the longest he and roger have done together (individual projects aside) - lasting from june of last year through to this coming august. um, they're coming back in august? oh please yes. "this is an excerpt from a mini opera. jesus i've taken shit for that over the years. me! so close to god!" fuck, the hilarity. ".. it's called wire & glass."

i thought i got it before. it's a neatly told story, about a young band bearing striking similarities to the who. except i didn't really get it, not until now, because now i've dissected 'psychoderelict' and read the boy who heard music. suddenly every last fucking thing makes sense, down to the random images on the screen. the caravan, the goodyear blimp.

'endless wire' is nothing short of perfection to me, both in intent and effect. pete had a notebook on a music stand at his side, and before he began to sing had to flip it right side up. hee. it could go on forever as far as i'm concerned, simon's voice soaring high above.

'they made my dream come true'. chills. fucking chills. i get it now. i fucking get it.

"thank you!" pete exclaimed, his voice worn and rough.

then came the opening sequence for 'baba o'riley', the sound filling the arena from bottom to top. red, black and white, numbers falling on the screens. we're all in there, aren't we. welcome to the machine. when the guitar kicked in and pete's arm started going i began to hop. fucking bliss, the sound of it. pete leaned in to the mic at the bridge and i stopped and stared. "don't cry.." the notes seized in my chest, stopping air from reaching my lungs, from reaching my brain. "don't raise your eye.." the intensity of the feeling grew. i took a deep breath but couldn't release it. it's impossible. it's impossible that he was fucking nailing it. he titled his head, forehead forward. "it's onlyyyy teeeenage wasteland..!" it was timeless, he was ageless, thirty five years ago, now, every year in between. the air rushed out of me and i bent over, dizzy. it's never been that perfect. i've never heard it that perfect. weak in the knees.

it was that fucking moment that two dudes, drunk and high, decided to crash our party. it was nowhere near sold out, and susan and i were lucky enough not just to have no one behind us, but to have no one in front of us either. i had already been thanking the powers that be for this, because not only were we able to stand the whole time with no one yelling at us, but we had a clear view. it made me think of that conversation with glen, about how easily idiots can not only ruin a performer's night, but the audience's too. we knew the guys were bad news from the start, we knew those weren't their seats, and i tried to block out the distraction of their shouting and their beers in the air. it was futile and we knew it, and i think because i was having such a fantastic time that it pissed me off even more than usual, to the point where i wasn't going to stand for their shit.

pete spoke after the jig ended, saying how, "over the years, whenever we play that song, it always gets the most cheering. which.. because.." i really thought he was going to say something about how and why it was written, but: "it's about absolutely nothing!" i burst out laughing. "i didn't know anything about fields. i was 28. you're all familiar with fields.. working in them. .. there are a lot of extremely young teenagers here tonight who love getting wasted! welcome to the old people home." then, in his way, gruff and forceful, his twisted humour, DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO!"

luckily we heard everything he said despite the loud talking in front of us - the last straw for me being some snide comment about pedophilia - and as they yelled for 'you better you bet' we told them to shut up. "did you just tell pete to shut up?" very funny. "it's a concert, not a movie!" we'd rather you talk at a movie, asshole. susan was up the stairs in a flash as they continued to egg me on. "she's taking notes!" i hate more than anything that the beginning of 'eminence front' sort of disappeared because they had to argue with the security guard as she kicked them out of the seats, but whatever. "thanks, junior!" yeah, you're welcome. soon they were gone (and throwing change at us from the section above, hooray) and after a little bit i was able to shake it.

ah, the beautiful the lava lamp effect. i basked in the colours and sound for the last half of the song. and pete's voice, oh, pete's voice. "the fucking hair thins! it's a put on.."

'man in a purple dress', just pete and roger on stage. new images of religious figures up on the screens this time, purple light behind them, and roger's voice ringing out with unbelievably clarity over pete's acoustic. he stole the song, pointed and angry. your soul's condition don't impress.

"that was for britney," pete said. um. what?! "she has less hair than i do at the moment." he said he thinks people should cut her some slack, it's not easy being in the public eye. and roger, he had no clue. "britney? britney who?" pete spat back, goodnaturedly exasperated, "spears, you cunt!"

before 'black widow's eyes' pete said something about "the end of the beginning rather than the beginning of the end." i didn't catch why. this time the song was about "men who blow themselves up in the vicinity of children", which put a twist on it, tying into a recurring theme of his. it sounded heavier to me.

"... '80s!" 'you better you bet'. for some reason this song has grown on me like no other cheesy dance song. i think it's the words. i love the words. "i'm dealing with a memory that never forgets." you better shove me back into line now.

short pause while pete tended to his strat. "i want my fucking guitar to be in tune!"

i never thought i liked 'my generation' that much. ok, i fucking love 'my generation'. plus it's the one moment pino is allowed to shine. he'll never sound like john, he'll never be fat enough to fill the bottom end, but his solos catch and lift, making the entire place roar. the man is a quiet presence, flawless and graceful. the transition into the jam, that's my favourite moment. anticipation. roger once again rapped the words to 'cry if you want', then scatted a bit, tying it all together. "my generation is here today, my generation hasn't gone away." yeah. i fucking love that. pete took over. "you can cry if you want.. that's what they say. cry if you want, it's ok. it doesn't matter what you've been through. you can cry if you want. that's what they say." my eyes were bugging out. pause. "FUCK 'EM!" "fuuuuuuck," i exhaled, and dove into my pocket for my pen, not wasting time with paper, just scrawling down my arm.

straight into 'won't get fooled again' from the A. pete emphasized the choppy guitar at the beginning, and the awe that inspired in me set the tone for the rest of the song. best version ever. no kidding. it built upon itself, pete's movements growing wilder. "i know that the hypnotised never lie." pete added to his usual, "do ya!" with a little repeat of roger's previous line. nice touch. synth breakdown, then the lift into the drum solo, white lights flashing below and around zak, just like they did for keith. i know i've seen this before but for some reason it seemed even bigger, so incredibly magical. zak pounded the fuck out of his kit, leaving me breathless. and then roger with his scream, which was fucking otherworldly. i didn't think he could scream like that anymore. i'm not even sure how i was standing at this point. pete kicked the windmilling up another notch and swung his arm so hard his entire body spun round in a circle with it. we squealed. jump jump jump, scissor kick. thank you, goodnight. AAAH.

scribble scribble scribble.

fully expecting 'pinball wizard' (mainly cos brendan harped on about seeing it open the encore at every show he's seen since 2001), at the sight of roger with an acoustic i paused. he spoke. "we see a lot of familiar faces." the travelling fans, up there every night. he thanked them. "this is for you." my heart swelled. i've been those fans. "well, it's for everyone, but it's for you." one strum on his acoustic and my jaw dropped. "oh my god," i managed. "i know," susan sputtered. 'naked eye'. naked fucking eye! what the fucking fuck! when the band kicked in for the chorus it was a bit slow and i chuckled to myself over aging bands slowing down old songs, but when pete took the next verse that thought flew out the window. he growled into the mic, leaning on the words, spitting them out, and we gaped. holy shit.

into 'pinball wizard' and the tommy set from there, the whole thing sounding much different to me than before, now that i know the album inside and out. because of how many times we've practiced 'pinball wizard', the two of us were expecting the Amaj7 at the end, and as it transitioned into the medley were like, "oh yeah!" pete used the micstand as a slide again at the end of 'amazing journey', segueing into the 'captain walker' snippet (sung by pete), the instrumental bit that reminds me of 'foxy lady', and then into 'sparks', which remains one of my favourite who songs ever. it was nothing if not surreal to see the swirling colours on the screens again, and i couldn'tve been more enraptured. pete slammed his fist toward the strings and let the chord hang, opening his arms into his airplane pose. the crowd went fucking nuts. see me, feel me, touch me, heal me. this time it didn't matter that i wasn't fifteen feet in front of the band, i could feel it from here. the entire place rose to their feet, and with the chorus of 'listening to you' the lights lit up the floor, everyone's arms in the air, the entire building crawling with this incredible sensation.

one more, one more. 'tea and theatre', just roger and pete and his glistening acoustic. fitting. this one i thought i got before too. my focus was stolen by the images above them, the asylum, cartoon depictions of ray and josh to go with leila's narrative. a thousand songs still smoulder now, we play them as one, we're older now... a nondescript figure climbing the golden stairway, the zeppelin heaven waiting above. tight-chested and full, so full. before we walk from this stage, will you have some tea, at the theatre with me...

their arms around each other before they left, smiling and glowing.

"be lucky."
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