So I'm in the Bush Airport and thinking about Dallas. Not about how much I want to fucking get out of here but about how much amazing fun I had in the 30 hours I spent with who friends from all over, and rocking out to a packed house at the American Airlines center. I drove up from Austin with Alan where I spent the two days hoping that Roger's voice would get enough rest to make it through the Dallas set, and attempting to resign myself to getting a cheap ticket and enjoying the show from the rafters.
I was monitoring eBay, Craigslist and the box office, and what I noticed was the show was not going to be a soft sell like Houston, where I scored a 19th row seat, Pete's side on Craigslist for $85.00 including fees. There was a lot of cheap tickets but there was nothing worth spending any money on so I stopped worrying about it and just enjoyed being in the energy of a pre Who show environment.
4:30 rolled around pretty quickly and I was loitering about the VIP entrance inquiring about extra unused passes for the sound check, when a very sophisticated older lady with a handful of wristbands walked back out of the door and was looking around. When I inquired if I could have one, she looked over and indignantly said "are you kidding me!" I could only assume she was not a huge supporter of social safety net policies. I continued to hang out and have a great time with the VIPers queuing up, when a little bird suggested that I just come in, and after contemplating it for 20 seconds, I did just that.
With the old Fintz and Ligouri energy (and my old Quad VIP laminate) watching over me, I slipped right on in and sat down with the table of great Who fans and waited for the sound check queue to start. Bobo, who had a bit of a more sophisticated apparatus in place, was waiting in the front row with M.y. Eddie, with saved seats for Alan and myself.
The sound check was fascinating and sometimes amusing insight into band mechanics and the fact that even after 50 years there's no escaping the technicalities and nitpicking intricacies that a band has to go through in order to prepare the sound for the evening's performance.
The one thing that stood out other than the beautiful sound of Pete singing I'm one, was Frank, "Musical Director" complaining about the energy level and that the BPM were not where they should be. To all this Pete commented something like"Frank, I know you're very concerned about counting beats, but it really doesn't matter." That is quite far from the actual signature acrimonious Pete communication style, but that was the gist. It was something beautiful to behold, I'm hoping someone taped it. To add to this, Pete kept stopping, I believe it was ICSFM and telling Frank that he was singing to a click track and that was causing him to be out of sync with the rest of the backup singers. I have s lot of respect for Frank, and regard him as a fantastic musician, but does PeteTownshend'd Who really need a musical director? Me says no.
It was truly a glimpse behind the scenes of one of the most amazing and complicated bands in history of rock and roll! I'm pretty sure that the majority of the VIPers, including Ms "are you kidding me," did not appreciate it for all of its glorious worth.
Thee was only a small amount of the precious Roger/Pete banter, but that was ok, and would be made up for during the actual show. It was now time for WHO chow, and it didn't disappoint. Highlights were deliciously prepared fish and chips, including a tureen of imported British vinegar for the culturally correct, and the absolutely gorgeous, and complimentary Union Jack scarfs adorning each table. A perfect addition to the fashionably attired UJ fanatic.
A long and rousing meal, complete will enthralling conversation with the most lovely of people took place, It is this communion that makes me count myself as one of the luckiest Who fans the world over, and puts some meaning to Roger's parting words each night.
Well now it's time to take care of the more pressing matter getting a ticket. When I announced to the table I had to go procure said entrance into said venue, Bobo promptly informed me I was already in the venue. Well, that was quite an welcoming bit of information. So it was now time to procure a space in which to witness my 3rd live rendition of A Quick One. The second one being the mind blowing version, only two nights earlier in Houston, and the first in 2003 @ The Relayers NYC Wholapalooza, performed by The Twoligans, accompanied by a packed house of the IAD!
Floor security was akin to the protection of the nuclear launch codes. My first attempt was met with a persistent "Miss, Miss, MISS!" As I walked past the triple line of defense guarding the entrance to the floor. They were not buying anything I had to say regarding the ticket I did not have. But to my surprise, I was only directed off the floor. So I parked my UJ scarf adorned arse in seat 1 row 1, right next to the floor entrance and waited for the show to start. Well, who would have thought that the person that shelled out the small fortune for that seat would actually want to sit in it.
I made my way up a few more rows where I found another human being with a pulse ready to rock out to Joan Jett with me. I was front row in Houston for JJ's set, so it was slightly anticlimactic watching from a cadaver section, but I was having fun. Then the ultimate adrenaline booster was injected, JJ brought out Miley!!! I couldn't believe it, it was fucking exactly what the doctor ordered, and it blew my mind! Here she was, gorgeously beautiful, adorned in Wendy O Plasmatics fashion, and accompanying JJ on I Hate Myself, and the Tommy James cover Crimson and Clover. For me it was spectacular!
Oh yeah, then there was the Headliners. During the break with help from "The Family" I was escorted to a 10th row floor seat, Pino side. No sooner did I arrive at my new residence, did the "Miss Miss MISS" welcoming committee show up. No matter what I said, pleaded and assured her of where my ticket was, she lovingly and patiently was not hearing any of it. And then the ranking captain of the NRA sanctioned Dallas Neighborhood Watch showed up to show her how the long haired, hippie type, Group W Bench Reprobates are handled.
With all the loving candor of a dog fight referee, he was ejecting me, and I was immediately ready to vacate. But then I saw illumination in his eyes, as if the great blackout of 1965 just ended in his brain. With snarling menace, he moved in for the kill, and he demanded to see my ticket.
When the fact came out that I was not in possession of said ticket, he announced with such demonic happiness that he was ejecting me not only from the floor, but from the venue. But he was not finished, he pointed to my Quad laminate, and demanded to know what that was, and without missing a beat, demanded to possess it, like Golum demanding the Precious from Bilbo.
Well, this's was not my first rodeo, I quickly rolled it up and put it in my pocket, and told him he was throwing me out, and didn't need to see anything. I quickened my gate to the door, and barely heard him say "yes I do." And I arrived at the door and the ticket taker inquired where I was going and why I was leaving, that's when Sarge caught up and commanded she let me out!
I was not outside 30 seconds when I spotted a dude with a handful of paper, and I announced "anyone have an extra ticket?" He immediately said he did, I offered him $10.00 and he replied "I'll take $10.00 and I'll even give you 2 tickets, and they are great seats in section 219!" I paid him, took the tickets, turned around and saw a woman with her finger in the air. I asked her if she was buying or selling, and before I could get the words out of my mouth, a scalper rolled up ad announced he had tickets. She told him she was hoping someone would give her a ticket for free, and I jumped in and said "and someone will, and handed her the other ticket and headed for the door, hearing her excited thanks as I left.
I took the escalator up and realized it was an elevator only section and went back down and was very kindly greated by the elevator operator, while we chatef about my memories of the long lost civility of elevator attendants from places like Macy's in NYC, he spirited us up to the section and wished us a good show.
Section 219 It was the section directly below the luxury boxes, and I had a wall to my back, and was free to rock out in the style I'm accustomed to, without the dreaded civilian zombies gurgling their down in front montes.I looked up a few times to make sure I wasn't aggravating the Box people, and it didn't appear to be so.
The section security attendant authentically caring for my safety, warned me against falling down the stairs, and he did this all in unofficial sign language. Well I proceeded to have an amazing time up there, and was even visited by Sarge, who wanted to inform me he saw me on camera and knew I was back. I pulled my ticket out, but he was already heading back out, not really caring about my legitimate proof of entry.
I did notice one of Dallas' finest peaking through the section curtain a couple of times and wondered if they were organizing a Branch Davidian style raid. It was not to be, although, the same police officer was standing inside the curtain at the end of the show, and he and I walked out together discussing how amazing it was that these old rockers still had it, and we wished each other a fantastic evening and he added, "safe travels."
Yeah yeah, the Who set. The show opened up with Roger sounding much stronger than Houston, but still not as competent as Jazz Fest. Pete was a little shaky at first, not venturing too much out of his safety zone. As the show went on, they both fell into a very solid groove. TKAAR replaced POL, which for some reason didn't bother me, as it was a solid version as best I remember. Although now it just has me wanting to experience it again (oh honey.) Bargain, I'm One, and AQO were amazing, and truly surpassed the price of admission
As the show went on, Roger relied more and more on the band and the audience to help him through. If you have any way to get out on this leg to see AQO, I'd highly advise it, one, because Pete almost apologizes to he civilians for doing it, and I'd put the money down that they will pull it. And B, I'm seriously worried that Roger is not going to "Be Lucky" with a schedule of dates with only one night off In-between.
I can hear for miles the gasps of outrage, but they should look at JJ's playbook, and arrange edgy guest singers to come and duet with Roger, just to relieve some of the heavy load.
So as I mentioned, no raid, but I still exited the venue without delay. I walked and talked with the exiting crowd for blocks, coming to rest outside Hooters, where a hundred or so people gathered outside peeping into the windows, not at the scantly clad women, but at two men beating the shit out of each other with skill and diplomacy of a kind. When did this shot become fashionable again? Maybe it never stopped, but continued in states I don't frequent. Pete did know about it and mentioned it along with The Kentucky Derby as choices, and was thankful we all chose to see a bunch of old geezers instead.
And on a final note, I met my new best friends, Tom and Leanne from Midland Texas. I met them at the Hard Rock, and they informed me they were in the Luxury box directly above me, and that I absolutely doubled their enjoyment and enthusiasm for the show. I love when that happens! Now go and "Get" Lucky.