15 Oct Forceful WHO Surmounts Sound
It was back to the cow palace last night, when The Who presented its pop opera, Tommy, in the CNE Coliseum before about 4,000 fans. Most of the audience sat in sawdust and suffered a sound system that could not have been worse if the show had been presented in the washrooms at Nathan Phillips Square.
As The Who’s Pete Townshend said on stage: “We regret having to play in this garbage can, for your sake more than ours.” Nevertheless it was an exciting concert, made so by the sheer forcefulness of The Who.
I doubt if there is a group anywhere—the MC5 included —which could have topped the pungent, piercing rock which this English quartet offered. The Who possess most of the things which have been lacking in much of pop lately—hard-hitting drive, a sense of theatrics, a purpose in deliver. The pop opera, Tommy, the group’s tour de force and something of a landmark in pop was offered in its entirety; the performers acting out the roles as they played. It was quite a sight, even if there was a lot missing acoustically after the raw twangs and cymbal crashes had been filtered through a fumble 0f beams and poles.
Visually The Who’s concert came close to topping the last Led Zeppelin appearance, and was far superior to Blind Faith. Two things emerged from the concert. The first is that Tommy may well be the most important pop musical operatic attempt since George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. The other point concerns Toronto’s serious lack of good places for pop groups to play. Last night’s Coliseum farce made it clear just how much the local rock scene misses the Rock Pile.