History LIVE: The Who @ Palace Theatre, 11/10/1969

The day Tommy reached puberty

by Ray Katz
(Originally published on 11-14-1969 Albany Student Press)

Entwistle’s pulsating rhythm danced around the musical twine, painting the words in leather black and the notes in a blood red. The four strings vibrated at a perfect rate to all around them, highlighting and underscoring, poking at the musical tones and aesthetic barbarism. Moon’s flailing arms crashed around the skins that circled him, flagellating the cymbals at a frantic pace, almost pounding the double basses with his flying hair.

Daltrey’s voice played hide and seek with the music, one minute occupying the platform upfront, leading the group down the briar path of primitivism, the next sticking its melodious neck through the chain mail wall of sound. All this while white fringes splashed around him, mikes and wires doing pirouettes through the air and finally settling in his hand.

The Who, 1969. This photo did not appear in the original article.
(Photo by Jack Robinson/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Townshend’s guitar was a weapon, spitting out its bullets of pure energy into an enthusiastic crowd. With every leap he seemed to stomp out another note, every kick producing a shrill whine, every jump causing the instrument to gnash its teeth, the right arm, a propellor building a rock-n-roll Tower of Babel to reach God. November 10, 1969. ‘The Who” came to Albany.

The Who are a wonderful group of individuals who turn out the best rock-n-roll of most anybody else today, with the possible exception of the Rolling Stones. The group’s debut album, filled simply, THE WHO, gave the listener a feast of good driving rock-n-roll. Their latest and most acclaimed project, the rock opera TOMMY is, again, rock-n-roll.

The Who went through close to seven years of rock development on their own. All this while The Beatles experimented with sixteen-track tape machines and forty piece orchestra’s playing backwards; while Ravi Shankar’s music influenced everyone from George Harrison to the Byrds; while well-known individuals got together to cut extemporaneous albums of midnight jams; while fivesomes added two saxes and a trumpet to become eightsomes; and while Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page made heavy music a top seller. Yet they remained basically the same and never compromised their position or ideas.

The Who playing live in the fall of 1969, this photo is not from the Palace Theatre show.

There are numerous people who, taken at face value, are individually better at their instruments than The Who. Townshend lacks the technique of an Eric Clapton or the speed of an Alvin Lee; Ginger Baker, it can be argued, is a more complete drummer than Keith Moon; numerous people qualify as better bass players than John Entwistle; Roger Daltrey is certainly not the finest vocalist in music today. However, throw these four personalities together, add a pinch of Chuck Berry, a dash of Elvis Presley, and a hell of a lot of energy, mix well, and the result is a truly meaningful entity.

The four have been together for years and know how the others think and play. Each other’s every move is known. This constitutes something entirely different from groups such as Blind Faith, Led Zeppelin, or the defunct Jeff Beck Group. These groups are transitory in nature, with members being together for a few months or a year and then spitting for another group.

The result is not a music group, but a group of musicians, an entity diametrically opposed to The Who. And it is these groups, the latter, that leave the permanent impressions upon rock music, the Who’s, Beatles, Stones, or Kinks.

Monday night a rock-n-roll group played at the Palace Theater to 2800 people. Monday night a rock-n-roll group put on a phenomenal performance, playing meaningful music. Monday night was the best musical night in Albany in six years. Monday night. Tommy reached puberty. Monday night…

The original article as it appears in the Albany Student Press on 11/14/1969.
5 Comments
  1. Richard Brody says

    I was at The Who concert. The Palace wasn’t sold out. The performance literally shook the walls. A great show.

  2. Sara says

    Ray Katz horribly misspelled DALTREY & ENTWISTLE. Any way I can contact him so I can call him out on his fatal error?

  3. Jim Gilbert says

    The article is 51 years old.. but you can try. 🙂

  4. Jim Gilbert says

    Better yet – I’ll just fix it. 🙂

  5. Johnny Soto says

    Hello,

    I am a college student studying marketing and I have to complete this marketing research project in order to graduate. I need your help. In short I have to select a rock band from the 60’s and once I find the band’s show dates, I then have to locate marketing materials used to market them. This is an illustration on how marketing has changed in the last 50 + years.

    The band I selected is THE WHO. I discovered in my research that they performed at:
    Palace Theater, Albany, NY on November 10, 1969

    The Dilema I have is that I do have a subscription for newspapers.com and it has papers from but no access newspapers in your area that has the newspaper concert ad. I was hoping your library has a more complete digital collection or microfilm for any paper from that time period, which would have hosted a newspaper concert ad for this show from THE WHO.

    What I am looking for is a concert ad from the local newspaper at the time which would have been used to promote this particular show. What newspapers existed in 1969 that your library would have an archive for? Perhaps there was a local entertainment type paper back then? This particular concert advertisement most likely will be found in the Student newspaper.

    I can’t express enough how important this is and how much I appreciate your help! Please let me know what we can do. Thank you so very much.

    Johnny Soto

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