The Who at The Royal Albert Hall 26.3.2022 with The Wild Things supporting.
As my gig schedule 2022 gathers pace, fuelled by enthusiasm from my key gig buddy Dave (DPi), I find myself striding along the edge of Hyde Park towards The Royal Albert Hall, passing the lavish apartments overlooking that wonderful piece of London green space, and on passed the Army barracks.
This gig opportunity fell out of another gig cancellation and we were in London anyway. It’s an acoustic Who set put on as part of the week of annual Teenage Cancer Trust concerts, with Roger Daltrey having fronted these events since they began.
I came to see Richard Ashcroft at one of these events in March 2003 and was perched high up above the stage on an upper balcony. Roger Daltrey was one of the special guests who came on for a few numbers with others doing a star turn including Noel Gallagher, Paul Weller, Kelly Jones of the Stereophonics and Liam Gallagher – quite a show.
It’s a special place to come and the novelty is still there for me as I wander through the plush bars, gaze up at the ceiling, private boxes and upper tiers surrounding this huge domed space.
My first visit was in 1999 up behind the stage in the choir seats for a Jools Holland performance with his orchestra. The other two visits were in the last ten years with the unlikely visit of The Damned for their 40th anniversary gig (top gallery standing) and the Buzzcocks gig, which, due to the sudden and early death of Pete Shelley, became his memorial gig with numerous special guest vocalists – including Richard Jobson who’s Skids played their own full set, with Penetration supporting. Main floor standing tickets for that one and it is seated on that floor tonight.
The support band are The Wild Things – Pete Townshend did some recording with them after he came across them working on The Who stage musical Quadrophenia. They subsequently supported The Who during their Las Vegas residency. Rocky… hints of Pat Benetar but maybe I’m influenced by the Sydney Rae White look.
It’s great to see the Great British legends that are The Who after all these years. One of those bands that have become part of rock history and with the whole Mod thing their music, especially the hits, get infused into you over the years.
There’s a lot of band with Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend in this acoustic set up, including Pete’s brother Simon. No room for classic Daltrey mic swinging or Townshend windmill guitar action tonight. What the acoustic set manages to do is make this massive and grand venue feel like a small local gig.
The setlist is drawn from varied sources – let’s face it they have plenty to go on. Great to hear Substitute and The Kids Are Alright early on. Squeezebox gets a double play as did Break the News as they weren’t happy with the versions they delivered: see, like local pub gig…. with 5,000 looking in.
Pete Townshend leads the chat and heaps praise on Daltrey for his long-term commitment to the Teenage Cancer Trust and these concerts. A block of Cancer sufferers and recovers who’d benefited from the Trust are introduced up on the rear centre balcony and one brave young woman up there addresses this enormous auditorium.
During one song (Beads on One String) digital Ukrainian flags appear to rousing applause – it’s the first time they’ve played this 2019 release live apparently. Recently they have released a video to accompany the song, in support of the people of Ukraine.
The home straight comes round quite quickly with Pinball Wizard, Who Are You, Baba O’Riley and finally Won’t Get Fooled Again. A crowd-pleasing finish, the floor all standing foe the last few, but no encore games. A unique experience and a privilege to be here.