Listen to the audio of The Who’s performance at The Spectrum in 1973
The Who were riding the wave of success that followed the release of their sixth studio album Quadrophenia when they rolled through The Spectrum on this day in 1973.
After the release of massive successes, Tommy and Who’s Next, the UK rock group spent the year prior to their sixth full-length release fairly inactive. Depending on who you ask, the quartet was in the thick of their prime by the time they came to The City of Brotherly Love in 1973. Quadrophenia is the maddening narrative of a young mod named Jimmy who is searching for a stronger sense of self while combating his four distinct identities, meant to be representative of each member of the band.
The pitfall of this rock opera captained by guitarist Pete Townshend was not in the concept, but the execution. The idea of the four distinct consciences, representative of the psyche of the majority of British youth at the time, was brilliant — but the LP itself was caught in the distinctly singular mind of Jimmy, creating a sometimes stagnant narrative. Still, this doesn’t take away from the potency of such an innovative record.
This tour was representative of the tumultuous nature of rock and roll that persisted throughout the ’60s and ’70s. Keith Moon was on fire this particular night, never missing a beat and keeping pace with the set even in times of technical difficulties (which were frequent on this tour, for an album that required such seamless transitions — technology that is now easily accessible and often taken for granted). This is in comparison to a gig just four days before in Detroit, where the hard-partying Moon reportedly passed out in the middle of a song. Fear not, the show went on after the boys asked if anyone in the crowd played the drums and was willing to come up and finish the set.
The setlist, for the most part, followed the narrative structure Quadrophenia. The first four songs were various crowd favorites like “My Generation,” a sonic anthem for the youth of the period that was released in 1965. The Who played “My Generation” twice in a row during this set, the second round being a blues version of the track. A testament to the power and influence that this song had on rock and roll lovers of the time.
Their charisma on stage was one of the things that drove crowds across the world mad and begging for more. Something that can be largely attributed to the rowdy antics of lead singer Roger Daltrey. His signature microphone slinging in conjunction with his energetic stage presence probably made it impossible to look aways for more than a second. Sadly, having been born in the late ’90s, I’ll never be able to truly know the magnitude of a performance by The Who in their prime, but I hope I’ve watched enough videos of them performing in my lifetime to make a pretty educated guess.
You can check out the entire setlist here, and listen to the full audio below. Were you at this show? Share some memories with us in the comment section below.