Spiritus Mundi #58, July 1980, page 28

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Spiritus Mundi #58, July 1980, page 28


This section contains an account of a concert attended by Lillian and his wife, Beth, to see her favorite band--namely, The Who.


Guy H. Lillian III


Spiritus Mundi, #58 July 1980




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ics (even Beth, not that it much mattered). Maybe I’m getting too old for this ...

But maybe not.

Entwhistle ... clad in a light brown leisure suit, looking like a junior executive at the bank, watching the others ...

Kenny Jones ... behind the drums, big shoes to fill, a gap they say no one could really fill, but giving his all, a superb sticksman, churning the air with the drumsticks ...

Daltrey ... short, winging the mike through space, pacing and prowling and stomping the stage like some big cat exploring its cage, putting drama into every move, every lyric ...

The Thin Man ... Pete Townshend ... paramount, right now, in the world of rock’n’roll, the thinker, the inspiration, the motivator ... curling around his guitar like a question mark, snapping his body like a whip across the stage ... They interviewed him & printed it the morning before, about the Moon being shot out of the sky, about booze, about rock’n’roll, and about Cincinnati ...

There was no festival seating here, thank Christ, and the gates had been open for hours (sweet sluttish teenyboppers gathered outside, looking for tickets), but if Cincinnati’s horror wasn’t about to be repeated here, it was on everyone’s mind – yes, even the kid crowd must have thought of it, thought of how the joy and the spirit that brought them here to drink beer in the parking lot and hear the Who (see them, I should say, since seldom did the crowd roar diminish enough to make out unfamiliar lyrics) had compelled a crowd of their peers to stampede and crush 11 people to death, a tragedy causing many somber folk to think about the value of rock, and the relationship between the demigods on stage and the mob beneath ... Townshend had said, in his interview, that they absolutely couldn’t mull over those 11 dead people, couldn’t think too deeply about their own responsibility in the matter (none direct; the Who didn’t control the seating in Cincinnati, nor when the doors opened, and didn’t even know about it till the concert was over) because to do so would have destroyed them ... How can you go out there when you know that because you were there, guiltless or not, innocent people died? But one could see Cincinnati’s lessons at work ...

Because more than once, the magic palace of lights suspended over the stage flooded the arena with light, illuminating the audience, making it clear that we were part of this show, and indeed the reason it was there. You probably don’t need to be told which song it was that brought the message home, but yes, it was “See Me, Feel Me” from Tommy. And theband was friendly; Entwhistle even talked with people down front, and Townshend thanked us graciously at the end ...

But before the end, there was glory. Old stuff I didn’t know, like “Substitute”, led it off, but soon they were singing “Town” from Beth’s favorite album, Quadrophrenia, all to the accompaniment of brilliant lighting pyrotechnics. “Who Are You?” came up, and “Pinball Wizard”, and then, in a blinding phosphorus flash, the opening bars of “We Won’t Be Fooled Again” (ironic since, in all likelihood, we here in America very likely will be).

They also sang my song, a song that could’ve been written for bitter would-be creators like me, for all those who had to hang back from life for so long because we thought life wouldn’t have us (fool). The roar of the crowd subsided as Daltrey came to stage front and stood stark still in the darkness, still as a statue, and waited, & then began “Behind Blue Eues” ... the anthem of despair & of reaching out ...

“My dreams are not as empty / as my conscience seems to be ...”

Rock’n’roll. “Aw, buddy,” said the wife as we left. “Now I can die happy.”

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