Pete Townshend walks offstage during concert.

This is what Pete would have done if the stage wasn’t too loud.

This is almost certainly old news, since it covers a gig that occurred on November 1, 2012, but since I’ve got a backlog of articles that need to be written, I think it deserves to be noted. In a gig at Sunrise, Florida, the first date in the Who’s first tour in four years, “Quadrophenia and more,” the band was playing an encore of “You Better You Bet” when, all of a sudden, Pete Townshend stopped playing. He shouted the words “Too Loud” to the sound engineer, and shortly afterwards, just walked off the stage.

The band had played all of Quadrophenia and a few of their greatest songs before the volume became too much for Pete. By the time they got to “You Better You Bet,” he got so frustrated that he just couldn’t play. And, of course, the band didn’t last much longer than him. He didn’t tell anyone else on stage why he got off, leaving the rest of the band confused so that they went into “Baba O’Reilly” without him. While I’m not sure if I can get away with posting Youtube clips of pirated concerts, there is footage of the concert on Youtube and you can see it if you search for “Baba O’Reilly sunrise,” and it’s clear that even though Pete doesn’t really have much to do in the song, the song becomes a lot less awesome without him. Apparently, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and “Tea and Theatre” (from their latest album Endless Wire) would have followed were the volume not too loud.

Pete’s brother and rhythm guitarist Simon Townshend would later tweet: “Pete walked off tonight because it was too loud. Was a good show but had some technical problems.” Hopefully, the soundmen have learned their lessons; Pete has yet to do a repeat of what happened in Sunrise.

For what it’s worth, I saw the Who live once, and there was something odd about the sound there, too. It was ten years ago, and they were playing what was then the Tweeter Centre in Tinley Park. The band was playing “Love Reign O’Er Me,” and, somehow, Roger’s hearing aid went out. He missed an entire verse, but he made up for it by playing the song again, never missing another note.


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