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The Who – Two Encounters

January 9, 2017

I have written these for Richard Houghton’s  forthcoming book on the Who entitled “The Who – I Was There”

Charlton Athletic Football Club, London SE7

May 31st 1976

 I still have the ticket for this show, which reminds me I paid £4.00 to see (in reverse order) the Who, Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Little Feat, Outlaws, Streetwalkers and Widowmaker. A half-dozen of us arrived early via Mark’s Escort van. We had been warned about forged tickets of which there would turn out to be 5,000 in addition to the agreed capacity of 60,000. Our Mums had dutifully provided us with cheese-and-pickle sandwiches and a local offie had furnished a diverse selection of bottles. Problem: taking booze into the ground was forbidden. As the most respectable looking it was decided  that I should be the designated booze smuggler. This proved ill-advised when after we successfully entered the already overcrowded ground I got parted from the other five. It also began to rain. So with impeccable teenage logic I decided that if I was going to be wet on the outside I would be wet on the inside too. By the time the others found me the booze was gone and so was I. I sobered up as the afternoon wore off, taking in Little Feat  ( should have been great:weren’t) and Alex Harvey (should have been great:were). By the time the Who appeared  I was sober and ready to be impressed by my first-ever Who gig. This was before video screens, so we couldn’t see much but the sound was commendably clear and LOUD: at 120 decibels the gig made it into the Guinness Book Of Records. Only three songs were featured from the bands most recent LP, 1975’s The Who By Numbers. The rest of the 90 minute set comprised some early singles, half of Who’s Next and  a large dollop of Tommy, the latter introduced by Keith Moon  to great effect. We were about halfway back, so missed the rucks that were happening down the front. Listening today to The Complete Charlton 1976 bootleg confirms that my teenage self was right to be impressed. The band were on prime form – inventive, concise and enthusiastic. The most memorable part of the Who’s set were the lasers. No-one had seen them at a gig before and they were used sparingly on See Me, Feel Me and Won’t Get Fooled Again. Green and red beams arced over our heads, almost adding a roof to the tatty stadium. I suspect the GLC put the boot in on the lasers, as I never saw them again at a 1970s gig. Getting home took about three days (see also the Stones at Knebworth later the same summer) but it was worth it.

 

Quadrophenia Audition

The Electric Ballroom, 184 Camden High Street, London NW1

September 25th 1978

 The Dudes – Simon Wright (vocals), Mick Brophy (guitar), Keith Steptoe (Bass), Simon Butler-Smith (drums)

 After two unsuccessful singles our band Trash had exhibited nominative determinism and had quietly slipped away to the great dustbin in the sky during the summer of 1978.  Even being signed to Polydor and produced by Shel Talmy could not save us, although Pete Townshend told us we were “bloody great”. I had been an avid consumer of NME  since I was 13 and wasn’t going to stop just because technically I was no longer a professional (sic) musician. So when I read that the Who were auditioning new, unsigned bands to appear in their forthcoming film version of Quadrophenia I thought it was worth a punt. I recorded the A and B sides of our two singles onto a C60 and  wrote The Dudes on the inlay card. It worked: The Dudes were invited to appear one autumn afternoon in front of Daltrey and Entwistle in an otherwise empty Electric Ballroom. Given that Trash’s entire raison d’etre had been unashamedly lifted wholesale from the Who it was easy enough to revisit our three mod-iest numbers – In On All The Secrets, Dumb Blondes and our rocked-up cover of  Rescue Me by Fontella Bass. Daltrey and Entwistle were polite but underwhelmed: the rejection when it came was not a surprise. We could have been the next Cross Section* 

 * glimpsed briefly in the eventual 1979 film playing a very short snatch of Hi Heel Sneakers  

 

POSTSCRIPT

I have today received my copy of The Who – I Was There and it looks great, well done Richard ! Here is the front cover

IMG_0004

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