May 31, 2015

Concert Review : The Who 50th Anniversary Tour - With Joan Jett & the Blackhearts At Forest Hills, Queens NY

It was a beautiful night for an outdoor concert. Many years ago I stumbled on the original Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, on the site of the West Side Tennis club, right smack in the middle of a residential neighborhood of beautiful Forest Hills.

Being a New York & Stadium history buff, I explored as close as I could. I did my research & followed its progress to it becoming a once again prime concert venue.

photos by centerfieldmaz
It's an old stadium and there are no rest rooms, just a bunch of porto-sans & mobile rest rooms. There was make shift sinks with running water & sanitizer stations. There was plenty of food in the food court area at the entrance. Heineken sponsors the venue & there was a surprising number of countless beer stands. The seats where we sat were just a long steel bleacher/ bench with no back. It was ok because there was enough room on either side & most of the time everyone was standing. That said- I do prefer a seat. There were new seats in the center of the stadium in the first level.


In 1964 the Beatles played here on two night in August, they were flow in by helicopter landing in the Tennis Clubs grounds. That first night was the THE night my parents were married! The Who have played here before, performing in 1971. Tonight Pete Townshend did mention "how many were here in 1971?" Many cheered but probably more than were actually there!

This is not the same Forest Hills Stadium where the Doors played with the Who in 1968. That was the Singer Bowl in the Worlds Fair Grounds. Other acts who played at this venue were The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan & Frank Sinatra. This summer Van Morrison, James Taylor & Santana will also be appearing.

photo centerfieldmaz
Tonight it was "the Who Hits 50" Tour with special guest Joan Jett & the Blackhearts. A celebration of 50 years of the Who's music that has touched & been an important part of life for many fans in many generations. I am proud to sat I have been a fan nearly 40 of those years.
Joan Jett hit the stage at 7PM sharp, with the sun still shining into the stadium, Joan did a fine set rocking the crowd who were there to see her & those awaiting the Who. Joan is looking very thin, dressed in a an leather out fit, while talking in her heavy New York style accent. She covered some of  her hits as well as some of her Runaways songs, maybe hinting of a Runaways reunion?? We hope.

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Joan Jett set list:
Bad Reputation
Cherry Bomb
Do You Wanna Touch
You Drive Me Wild
Light of Day
Love Is Pain
The French Song
I Love Rock & Roll
Crimson & Clover
I Hate Myself For Loving You

photos centerfieldmaz

 As the sun was still setting and twilight lingered over the West Side Tennis club, the Who & their band walked on to the stage. Yes they are older, as are the rest of us fans. Yes its just Roger Daltrey & Pete Townshend left from the original line up, due to alcohol & drug demons the others could not escape. But the core of the band, the two constants for 50 years ,are Daltrey & Townshend, and they are still awesome, as is their music & current band.

Zak-getty images
THE BAND- Drums: Zak Starkey (Ringo's son & Keith Moon's godson) was on the mighty drum kit. If there is any one close to the great Keith Moon, it's Zak.

He keeps the legend alive, it was Moon who bought & taught little Zak how to play drums when he was 8. Ringo tried to discourage his son from a life in Rock & Roll. Moon & Ringo were very good friends back in the day. Zak has been in the Who since 1996.

photo centerfieldmaz
Guitars, Mandolin, Vocals: Simon Townshend- a member since 1996. Simon also sung on Tommy when he was just nine years old.

photo- centerfieldmaz
Bass: Pino Palladino, possibly the tallest man on earth, is a highly acclaimed bassist (played with Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, David Gilmour, Elton John & Pete Townshend) who has been touring with the band since the passing of John Entwistle.

Keyboards & Vocals: John Corey & Loren Gold. Frank Simes in the musical director & played assorted instruments.

This was the final night of the first leg of the Who Hits 50 Anniversary Tour. It was another great performance by this timeless incredible band. The Who rocked & did not disappoint. Roger Daltrey's voice sounded fantastic.

photo- centerfieldmaz
He was able to do all his classic Who songs, while looking fantastic for 71 years old. Man, does he look good for that age! He played a bit more guitar than I like, since he is the classic front man rock singer. He still throws & twirls his microphone around but maybe not as much as he use to. Roger was on tonight, he was excellent and hit 'em all.

Pete was also on his game tonight (as usual), doing his classic occasional windmills & playing some fantastic guitar. It's Pete who wrote all these classic songs that have been such a big part of myself & so many others lives. As he takes his bow toward the end of the show you want to jump up on stage, shake his hand & just say thanks Pete, for all you have given us musically.

The show began with a swirling version of I Cant Explain, as Roger led the crowd to sing the backing vocals, it was a good touch to a great start. There was no chronological order to the bands history, nor was there any great tributes to Keith Moon or John Entwhistle like on the last Quadrophenia Tour. The second song; The Seeker was a great choice & was one of the best on the night.

The Tommy set was absolutely incredible & possibly the best set of the night. The band rocked through Amazing Journey-Sparks-Captain Walker & Pinball Wizard. For my money when ever the Who led by Pete Townshend jams out on stage, it's great.

I thought the Slip Kid- Bargain-Join Together set was also a highlight of the night, representing this part of the Who's history.

Eminence Front was also a great choice, and maybe because I was in high school when it & the It's Hard album came out, but I think is such an under rated album.
I was disappointed that Forest Hills was deprived A Quick One While He's Away, which was played most of the tour. I am assuming this was due to time limits at Forest Hills due to the residential neighborhood, as the show ended at 10 PM sharp. I also would have liked to see a few more oldies from the sixties as well as a bit more rare tunes. That I said I know there's a lot to get in in a short time.

It was an outstanding show & has me anticipating the Garden shows at the end of the year.

The WHO set list:
I Can't Explain
The Seeker
Who Are You
The Kids Are Alright
I Can See For Miles
My Generation
Behind Blue Eyes
Slip Kid
Join Together
You Better You Bet
I'm One
Love Reign O'er Me
Eminence Front
Amazing Journey
Sparks (with Captain Walker piece)
Pinball Wizard
See Me Feel Me
Baba O' Riley
Wont Get Fooled Again

photo- centerfieldmaz

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