Creative Loafing Senior Writer Eric Snider on last night's 30-second concert by The Who: âI canât explain, I canât explain.â The Whoâs lead singer Roger Daltrey managed to croak out a couple of those lines before vacating the stage Tuesday night at the Ford Amphitheatre, leaving Pete Townshend to explain the inexplicable: Roger had a horrible case of bronchitis âon the verge of pneumonia;â the band had to regroup for a bit and would try to give it a go.
After about 10 minutes of backstage commiseration, Townshend came out and canceled. While the crowd grumbled its disapproval (as opposed to raining boos on him or pelting him with beers), a contrite Townshend â arms out, palms pointed upward â said, âWeâre so, so, so sorry. Roger sends his apologies.â
He announced a new date for the concert on the spot: March 25. âWeâll do our best to make it up to you,â he added.
The crowd was largely subdued as it filed out of the Ford Amp â a far cry from three decades earlier, when a thunderstorm cut short a Led Zeppelin concert at Tampa Stadium and sparked a riot. Maybe weâre evolving as a species.
Hey, people get sick â rock stars too, especially old rock stars. Singers come down with vocal maladies. The inexplicable part of this debacle was that Daltrey and the rest of the band let it go so far. Iâve been writing about music for about a quarter century, and Iâve seen several day-of cancellations. I have never seen a cancellation 30 seconds into a concert.
Earlier in the day, Daltrey had to know he couldnât perform. The old college try can be an honorable gambit, but not when people have arranged schedules, gone out to dinner, rented Hummer limos and indulged in other extravagances with the expectation that they would revel in a performance by one of their beloved bands. Daltreyâs move was like getting in line to run a marathon even though he had a cast on his foot.
The Who shouldâve shit-canned the show early and got the word out via radio and Internet. No harm done â or not much, anyway. Itâs just that simple.
Because I went to The Who with the intention of reviewing the show, Iâll go ahead and do so: The beat on âI Canât Explainâ was a bit plodding. Daltreyâs vocal sounded like hell. The show was way, way too short.