Creative Loafing Music Critic Wade Tatangelo has this to say about The Who's mini-concert: A plastic beer bottle or a ketchup-covered wiener shouldâve whizzed past Pete Townshendâs big schnozz. Where was the righteous rage last night following The Who's 30-second non-show? Where was the donât-fuck-with-me rock ânâ roll spirit? They served us a crock of shit and we gobbled it down.
Sorry, folks, but I can't help but feel pissed off. Worse, I think we might have been had by a slick moneymaking scheme â one that will now find the Ford Amphitheatre on the receiving end of not one, but two nights of hideously overpriced booze and concession sales. Call me paranoid but I canât help but think the worst.
My pain goes beyond my professional duties. A bonding experience between Pops and me was on the line. He grappled with traffic for 45 minutes during his drive from St. Petersburg to my place in South Tampa, where he arrived around 6:30 p.m. We grabbed sandwiches and salads at MacDinton's and polished off a pint each of Guinness. We got on I-275, picked up I-4, got off on Orient Road and snaked around the Florida State Fairgrounds until we found parking hundreds of yards away from the Ford Amp.
We passed the security check, had our tickets scanned and then drank $10 beers while moseying around the joint during a lackluster set by a band called Rose Hill Drive. I bumped into St. Pete Times pop music critic Sean Daly and we shot the breeze. A rep from Ford Amp checked on Daly and introduced himself to me, but I didn't catch his name.
Around 8:30 p.m., we took our seats. About 20 minutes later the lights went down. Out came Townshend in shades, Roger Daltrey in black T-shirt and jeans, and the opening riff of The Who classic "I Can't Explain." My dad smiled at me. Neither one of us had seen The Who before and now here we were, kicking it, father and son â two men of a different generation raised on rock 'n' roll.
"I can't explain," sang Daltrey before clutching his chest and beelining off stage.
Five minutes later, after the bronchitis excuse and the ultra-fast rescheduling, the show was done.
Daltrey didn't know that afternoon his voice was shot? How about while doing his vocal warm-ups prior to taking the stage? Boy, he sure sold the bad chest with a dramatic hand gesture (captured in a St. Pete Times photo on 1B).
"I just spent $40 on beer," my dad said as we fast-walked to our car. That's when the conspiracy theory started gnawing at me. What if Townshend and company contacted the Ford Amphitheatre yesterday morning and reported Daltrey's bad pipes, but rather than do The Right Thing and cancel, a deal was struck to gather the rather paltry crowd of 9,000 inside for a couple hours of profit-fueling beer sales â before bagging the set and rescheduling?
I'm no promoter or tour manager, but doesn't it seem odd that a major act like The Who was able to confirm a new date in a matter of minutes?
By the way, when Townshend came back on stage without his guitar he should've had his hand over his face to protect that ample nose of his from various, non-lethal debris. But all we, the audience, did was bitch and moan and peacefully exit. The experience was about as rock 'n' roll as a night at the opera. Maybe even less rock ânâ roll than a night at the opera â at least opera fans boo with passion. When The Who performs March 25 it better be an affair to remember. With half-price beer sales.