Thursday, July 07, 2005

Pete, Rock God

Last night, I watched ABC's coverage of Live8. I skipped most of it but stopped when I saw they deeemed the Who worthy enough of half a song of coverage. Sheesh. I take what I can get. So I watched them play "Who Are You."

When Pete Townshend decides the mood is right, he is simply on fire. His playing, attack and demeanor were awesome to watch. My favorite part was when he did a birdman, going into a half-windmill and an attack pose, ending with a machine gun.

I'll elaborate, using pictures from Pete's official website, taken beautifully by Matt Kent (a nice guy who started out a nutso Who fan and ended up running Pete's site - cue Napoleon going "luckyyyy").

The Birdman

The Birdman is a pose that I believe Pete first started doing as a teenager with the Who, but I didn't see many examples of it until the 2002 tour, when he did it during "Sparks" almost every night. Pete strikes a chord and lets it ring out, sometimes with a trickle of feedback mixing in with the chord, and extends his arms to each side.

Image hosted by Image hosted by

The Windmill

Ahhh, The Windmill. What to say about the windmill that hasn't already been said? The story goes that Pete again started windmilling as a teenager. The Who were on the same bill as The Rolling Stones, and Pete saw Keith warming up his arm by windmilling it around. Keith doesn't remember this, but what does that really tell you, anyway?

Pete and The Windmill have had a dangerous history. It's not uncommon for Pete to literally rip off a fingernail when doing a windmill. In 1989, shortly after the Who reunited for a 25th Anniversary Tour, Pete vowed he wouldn't be doing any of his jumps or windmills that colored his past. (This vow lasted approximately 25 seconds into the first gig of the tour.) In Tacoma, Pete did a windmill and forgot about the whammy bar hanging on the end of his Fender Strat. The bar pierced his right hand, going all the way through, between his fourth and fifth fingers. (Shot from 1989 shown here.)

Pete still windmills constantly. I tend to think that he's probably not hitting the strings as often with his right hand anymore, but is just using his left hand to play the chord while the hand swings. Still, I've seen him do anywhere from 5 to 15 in a row, and regardless of whether you're hitting the strings...try swinging your arm at that velocity and frequency and see how it feels.

Image hosted by Image hosted by

The Attack Pose

I love the Attack Pose. (I just gave it that name.) This pose usually happens either right after a windmill or a hard chord hit, and it's ferocious. This is why Pete is a guitar superstar. He can play the thing, and he uses it emotionally and physically. Poses like these punctuate those amazing power-chords in "Won't Get Fooled Again" and a zillion others.

Image hosted by

The Machine Gun

I've only seen Pete do this in recent years. He tends to do it when he's pissed off. Sometimes it looks a bit dopey, but when done correctly, it's also pretty powerful.

Image hosted by

(You'd think that machine-gunning the crowd at the Concert For New York would have been a poor choice of moves, but they went wild.)

So anyway, Pete did a combination of all these moves - within maybe 1.5 seconds - during "Who Are You" at Live8. It was this brief moment in time that most - including Pete, possibly - never noticed - but it was one of those moments that really showed how powerful Pete can be.

Poor Roger gets no love. Let's give Rog some love.

Image hosted by

And final pic for today, from Madison Square Garden '02. I just wanted to point out that, to the bottom left of Zak's drum kit, right above the monitor - that's me. (I swear.) That was the night Roger threw me his harmonica. Good night. Two years later, I tried to get him to sign it and he looked like he was going to punch me in the face. It remains unsigned for obvious reasons.

Image hosted by


Post a Comment

<< Home