I've always liked the music of The Who. So when I heard they were coming to the metro area, I immediately bought tickets. After all, how many more chances would there be to see one of the greatest rock bands of all time?
That was 1989. The show was at Lakewood Amphitheater and it was great. And I remember telling people: "I can't believe these guys are still this good when they're this old."
Twenty-three years later I'm saying the same thing. I've gone from worrying that the group would quit touring to having the chance to see the band (sans two original members, of course) twice right here in my own county. By the effort they gave Monday night at the Arena at Gwinnett Center, it looks like there's a better chance of me giving out before them.
Roger Daltrey is 68 and Pete Townsend, 67, but they looked and acted much younger during their performance of the album "Quadrophenia." Even when it comes to rock gods, not many can get away with the unbuttoned shirt look, but there was Daltrey, showing no interest in acting his age while twirling his microphone and belting out some of the band's iconic tunes. And when Townsend did his signature windmill move, everyone felt young again.
It used to be that rock bands lived up to the famous Who line: Dying well before they got old. Whether it's healthier living or the allure of continued big paydays, that's no longer the case. It seems the Beatles asked about the wrong age. With the way bands are going now, the question is: Will you still love them when they're 74? Or more?
The road, it seems, goes on forever for many of these groups, which is why, if you are inclined to shell out big bucks, you can see The Rolling Stones later this year as they celebrate their 50th anniversary. (Another aside: I saw the Stones at the Orange Bowl in Miami in 1988. Again my thought was: I may never get another chance.)
Nostalgia sells, but if the music was subpar you could just buy a T-shirt and call it a day. To hear a famous anthem like "Baba O'Reilly" done well and live is a pretty cool experience no matter how long the band has been around. These aren't your father's "oldies."
Funny thing is, that when it comes to age, The Who doesn't even rank at the top of the list of performers I've seen in concert. I once saw Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan in succession. Their common thread? Each was over 70. All were entertaining.
The good news is these days there's a good chance you'll have plenty of years to see your favorite artists.
The bad news? In 30 years that might mean Miley Cyrus taking the stage in Duluth.
Email Todd Cline at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Wednesdays.