[Album Review] The Who | Encore Series | Sept. 28, 2002

Yep.  That is not a typo.  I’m talking 2002 and not 2020.

It was 18 years ago today when I went to see The Who at the Air Canada Centre, Toronto on September 28th, 2002.  I think it is named The Scotia Bank Centre now… but I’m not sure and I’m too lazy to look it up.

For this tour, The Who made CD copies of each performance available on their website after each show.  It was called the “Encore Series” and I thought it would be cool to grab one for the show I attended.  And I happened to be right.  Because here I am, 18 years later listening to and writing about it.

We knew going in how it was to be a bittersweet night.  The Who’s bassist, and The Who’s driving force, John Entwistle had just passed away in June.  It was weird to have bought tickets to see someone, then have them die before the show happens.  And this was the last show on the tour.  So, there would be a sense of finality since at the time we didn’t know if they would carry on.  Spoiler alert, they did.

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I know a few people (you know who you are) who turn their nose up at this version of the band, feeling that Pete and Roger are not enough to make up The Who.  But I personally can’t punish them for not having the ability to raise the dead.

Anyone who knocks Zak Starkey is ignorant to how good of a drummer he is.  True, he isn’t Keith Moon, but he didn’t replace him.  He replaced Kenney Jones from the Face Dances/It’s Hard era, and he is a by far better fit.  Check out their live album from 1984, Who’s Last for the hard evidence.

As for Entwistle, according to Pete’s banter after Who Are You, both him and Roger already knew he was in bad shape before the tour began.  They already had Pete’s son, Simon Townshed to sub for him on backup vocals as he could no longer hit the high notes.

Pino Palladino filled in on bass and remained there until he left the band until 2017.  Listening back now, I can agree that Palladino didn’t have the punch that Entwislte would have brought that night.  But, after reading Roger Daltrey’s biography, I know that this move was likely done at his request.  Entwistle’s overpowering performance would often force Daltrey to over sing, and pleas from Roger to turn the volume down would go ignored.  I’m sure Roger had a little more sway over Palladino.

And Roger was in fine form that night.  He might have been straining to hear himself during Baba O’Reilly, as he gets a little drowned during it, but he was solid for everything else.  His iconic scream during Won’t Get Fooled Again was assisted by some echo effect, but I can’t imagine doing that every night for a tour.  Love, Reign O’er Me is the better tune to gauge him by and he knocked that one, and really the whole night, out of the park.

Pete was by design, was the loudest on stage.  His guitar growled above everything else.  Good thing he backed up that ego with some solid guitar work all night. Again, I dare you to give Who’s Last a spin if you want an example of a limp Pete.

Roger feels that they both he and Pete were at there best for this tour.  Towards the end of his book, he talks about how they really didn’t have time to grieve Entwistle as they money for the tour was already invested, and the show had to go one no matter what.  So, they dove into the music and saved their mourning for later.  There was no one showing up late, or missing flights, or any shenanigan’s.  The tour benefited from their focus on the performances.

Like all of my opinions, this one will be biased… but a little more so.  Having attended the show myself, I love this.  I love listening back to it.  I think it might be the best live show I have from The Who.  And yes, I’m including Live At Leeds and the Isle of Wight Festival from 1970.   I love those shows, but it is a little too much Tommy for me.

Yes, Moon the Loon and The Ox are missed but Roger and Pete can still carry a band.  Even The Who.  They played everything I wanted to hear too.  Just the right amount from the early days, Tommy, Who’s Next, and Quadrophenia.  I can’t guarantee it will resonate with you as much, but doesn’t have to.

5/5

Setlist:

  1. I Can’t Explain
  2. Substitute
  3. Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere
  4. Who Are You
  5. Another Tricky Day
  6. Relay
  7. Bargain
  8. Baba O’Riley
  9. Sea and Sand
  10. 5:15
  11. Love, Reign O’er Me
  12. Eminence Front
  13. Behind Blue Eyes
  14. You Better You Bet
  15. The Kids Are Alright
  16. My Generation
    (with ‘Old Red Wine’ snippet)
  17. Won’t Get Fooled Again
Encore:
  1. Pinball Wizard
  2. Amazing Journey
  3. Sparks
  4. See Me, Feel Me

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14 comments

  1. What a great souvenir from the show! I agree Zak is a great drummer for The Who but don’t be dissing Jones as that period is when I discovered The Who! lol But I get what your saying. Cool set list and with these guys they just keep going and going. Its amazing when The Ox passed bam in comes Pino and they didn’t miss a beat.
    Crazy but with a ton of money on the line…it doesn’t seem so cray cray does it?
    Great writeup…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Deke!

      Jones isn’t a bad drummer. He only didn’t meshed well with The Who. It would be like putting Phil Rudd in with them. Or Keith Moon with AC/DC. It just wouldn’t work.

      Daltrey explains in his book how screwed they would have been if they cancelled this tour. They were insured but even so, a lot of people would have been out of a few months of work. So they just hunkered down and saved their grieving for later.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That is so cool. I never went to a concert where a band was doing this as I would have picked one of these up. A great souvenir. When I am looking for bootlegs of artist, I am always hoping I find one from the show I was at but the closest I have come is 3 days prior I believe (or was it after…I forget).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a few more (Bob Dylan, Black Sabbath, Pantera) but this is the only legit one. They said they were doing it to combat the bootleggers. I don’t know how successful it was because there was only a few bands that signed up to do this at the time, then it disappeared. So maybe it didn’t make enough money to be worth it.

      Like

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