There they were in their guitar-smashing, amplifier-kicking, mike-throwing, ear-splitting, high-jumping, drumstick-twirling, decibel-deafening rock'n roll glory. The Who.
And there they were in their roarring, clapping, stomping, sweating, yelling, showing, stand-up-sit-down glory. Glory.
The Who did most everything at the War Memorial last night that Who lovers could want. They played most of their hits, old and new, they did all their tricks, and Peter Townsend, bless his socks, hustled up his guitar.
And what very well might have been the biggest crowd in war Memorial history caught the whole thing. You have to say - might have been - because nobody knows how many were in the huge, sweltering hall. It holds about 9200 and was sold out, but hundreds gained entrance with counterfeit tickets or gate-hustling techniques.
War Memorial officials estimated the crowd at upwards of 10000.
An Atlanta, Ga, white rhythm'n blues band called Holy Smoke played the warm-up set. With a little Creedance Clearwater Revival and a lot of Joe Cocker, Holy Smoke is a fine tight band, but not all too original.
The music was listenable invigorating, and what more do you want from the front act?
Then came the pre-Who intermission and it's accompanying circus of horror as hundreds of the $4 tickets became the best of the $6 tickets with some well-aimed pushing and shoving and lots of outguessing the ushers. With relative good sense, officials didn't argue when practically nobody was in the seal - they let the Who on.
And they did about an hour and a half of hit-after-hit music. "The Magic Bus", "My Generation", "Substitute", and several more, including new material from their latest album.
The crowd was an obvious Who crowd, jumping, rocking, singing and nodding to their heroes. The audience e came complete with the usual assortment of Frisbees and balloons, which floated about the huge hall like they would at a picnic.
The audience also came complete with a tendency to push to the front, shoving those up front into less and less space, until the band had to ask up-fronters to lift up to the stage anyone who passes out.
A handful of fans, especially girls, were treated at the first aid center for fainting.
And, unfortunately, the audience also came complete with a row of numbskulls who lit sparklers several times and threw them into the crowd. They must have been crying to create another blind pin ball wizard.
The crowd's biggest reception greeted hits from Townsend's rock opera Tommy. "Pin Ball Wizard", with it's great lyrics about a deaf, dumb and blind kid and how he sure "plays a men pin ball", was perhaps the best performance of the night.
And when the single white spotlight hit lead singer Roger Daltrey and he sang "See me - feel me - touch me", the audience reached even new heights of enthusiasm. It was deserved. It's a fine piece of music and it was well performed last night.
But overall, based on last night's performance, The Who is the most overrated rock band in the world.
Creative individuals should progress. They should be different, and hopefully improved, from days gone by. Not so last night. It was a concert out of two or three years ago. It was monotonous too often. It was decidedly not fresh.
With the exception of the Tommy songs, only the old Motown-Martin Gaye classic, "Baby Don't You Do It", moved the critic.
The name of the Who game is theatrics. Drumstick twirling, microphone swinging, guitar-smashing - give everybody a little time and they should be able to do those things for themselves.
And then there is amplification. Rochester Gas & Electric must have approached a "brown-out" all over town from the electricity drained by The Who. Something like 10 microphones and 30 amplifiers send the music through you, in the other direction.
Loudness with purpose is fine, but The Who really overdo it. Words become a jumble of cacophony, and guitar chords run together like one giant weaving snake - but all in the same octave with incredible repetition.
The Who needs to find new direction; they've done about all the growing they're going to do in the direction they are in now.
And besides, the bloody band didn't play "Summertime Blues".
Von Scott Canfield