Memories of The WHO, at Manchester students union, 1970

When I was a student at UMIST, I saw The Who, a few days before the legendary Live at Leeds gig. They were awesome. So loud in fact it punctured my left ear drum. So loud in fact that if for a moment you could isolated yourself from the audience (no easy thing) you couldn’t stand up properly because your balance mechanism was disabled by the sheer volume.

All blokes.

No 'birds'!

Here’s how they got such power at the Leeds gig, if they applied the same technique at the Manchester gig I saw. The crowd expected them after the support acts. The curtains were drawn. No Who. Anxious audience, turning to irritated audience. Bottles started flying, some full and some not. Broken glass underfoot. Tremendous and dangerous heat. Then after nearly 2 hours, the fights. At this precise point, a head pops around the stage curtains and must have given a signal because …

The curtains opened and The Who, all plugged in (in more ways than one I guess) were there and the awesome opening chords of Can’t Explain burst out. All of that menace and energy in the audience was focused and then instantly amplified by the first few seconds of that first song.

The power that must have flowed onto that stage would have been staggering. The Who knew precisely what they were doing in terms of instigating, catalysing, focusing, absorbing and then reflecting back that fearsome energy. Truly one of the high points of my entire life.