The Who Newcastle City Hall 24th Feb 1981

The Who Newcastle City Hall 24th Feb 1981
who81tixThe Who went out on a full UK tour in 1981, their first since 1975. They called at Newcastle City Hall for two nights, I went along with a group of mates to the first night’s concert. The Who were on top form, playing a set which consisted of classics, a couple of covers, and a few new tracks from “Faces Dances” including “You Better You Bet”. Support came from R&B band Nine Below Zero. The brass section which had been with the band at Wembley didn’t feature; this was the four piece Who plus Rabbit on keyboards. Daltrey retained his short hair style, and seemed fitter than ever. Townshend was in good spirits and on top form. An amazing concert, it was great to see The Who close up in such a small venue again. We had seats close to the front, to the side of the stage.who81progTheir new album “Face Dances” was released the following month. “Face Dances” received rather luke warm reviews and it is generally recognised as not being one of their best albums. Trouser Press magazine said at the time: “Face Dances is a pleasant and rather meaningless album that proves, not the Who’s continuing genius, but rather their ability to churn out “product,” watered down from their days of glory.” But the Who live was a different thing altogether, the band was still firing on all cylinders. However, things weren’t so good in The Who camp. Pete Townshend was drinking a lot, and taking cocaine, and Roger Daltrey and Kenney Jones weren’t getting on. This was to be the Who’s last full UK tour for a long time. The next time I saw The Who was at Live Aid in Wembley Stadium in 1985, where they played a short, but excellent set. It was then 11 years until I saw them again, this time in Hyde Park, where they performed Quadrophenia, sharing the bill with Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton. By then the drum seat was taken by Zak Starkey. I’ve already posted about those two performances. For my next Who blogging, I’m going to roll forward to the year 2000, when the band returned to Newcastle to play the Arena.
The Who 1981 Setlist: Substitute; I Can’t Explain; Baba O’Riley; The Quiet One; Don’t Let Go the Coat; Sister Disco; Dreaming From the Waist; You Better You Bet; Drowned; Another Tricky Day; Behind Blue Eyes; Pinball Wizard; The Punk and the Godfather; Who Are You; 5:15; My Generation; What’cha Gonna Do About It (short snippet of Small Faces song); Won’t Get Fooled Again.
Encore: Young Man Blues; Dancing in the Street (Martha and The Vandellas cover); Dance It Away (Pete Townshend solo song); The Real Me

7 responses to this post.

  1. Can you recall on one of the nights The Who doing two shows – an early and a late show? I seem to remember the concerts selling out fast and then putting on another show? I’m sure that my girlfriend at the time, Judith Chicken, went to the early show and hid in the toilets upstairs until the evening show – either that or she blagged her way into the sound check and then hid (actually that sounds more like her!) I’ve loved reading your Who memories – sadly I only got to see them at this show and Wembley. You were right about the travel chaos after Wembley – me and my mates stayed till the end, missed the last tube and slept the night on the street in Wembley! Things we did in our youth hey!


    • Posted by vintagerock on December 31, 2014 at 1:46 pm

      Hi Garry Funny you should mention a third show, as when I started to write this post I had it in my mind that The Who played three nights, not two. However, I have checked on the main Who websites, and they all say that they played two nights, and there is no record of a second show on either night. I note my ticket says 7.30pm which is probably a little too late for it to be an early show, and a little too early for it to be a late show. So I’m pretty sure there can’t have been two shows on the first night. Also, my ticket has a No 1 printed on it, which I assume refers to the concert being the first night. But hey, who knows. Pleased you are enjoying my memories Cheers Peter


  2. I have a recording of this show. I can post it if you can not find it.

    I could never understand why The Who played such small venues in Europe and were forced to play 15,000 to 20,000 arenas here in the United States.

    Maybe there was just no larger place to play. Here I’ve seen The Who about a dozen times and always in large hockey arenas or huge football stadiums.


  3. First time I saw the Who! It was as I recall a really good gig, but a huge regret of mine is never seeing the Who with Moony, I remember them playing the Odeon around Who’s Next but I was too young to be allowed to go sadly! After that I think they were too big for the Theatre gigs for a while. For a band I do love, this is one of only twice that I’ve actually seen them, the second being 26 years later at Newcastle Arena, and they were absolutely storming I must say. I had tickets for the ‘farewell’ tour show at the arena a few years back but had the flu so gave up my ticket to my mate, who reported back that they were pretty underpar and Roger sounded in his words like a wounded buffalo, so I didn’t in the end feel too bad about it! But I’ve got Who’s Next playing as I type this and dear me, what a band they were! Long Live Rock!


    • Posted by vintagerock on July 13, 2020 at 12:28 pm

      Along with the Rolling Stones Craig, The Who are probably my favourite band and I have seen them more than 20 times over the years since 1971. Of course they are not the same as they used to be, but on a good night the are still pure class happy days Peter


  4. I wish I’d seen them more Peter! I used to listen to Who’s Next and Meaty Beaty Big & Bouncy endlessly when I was a kid, and those records still sound unbelievably fresh and vibrant. I kept hoping they’d play Newcastle but by the time I was going to gigs I think they were just playing massive open air shows, and nowhere local. I was devastated when Moony died and I realised id never seen that band! I had an almost similar feeling with Zeppelin – although in their case I did at least see them once, at Knebworth, I was always envious of people like yourself who saw them in theatres and ballrooms, which must’ve been a real experience. Anyhow, useless having regrets I guess…


    • Posted by vintagerock on July 14, 2020 at 12:25 pm

      Yes indeed Craig. Regrets are no good. Just enjoy the happy memories you have happy days Peter


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