Last night, we added another great classic rock concert to our ever-expanding list when we saw The Who (finally) rock Portland’s Moda Center for their Hits 50! tour. It’s actually now been 52 years, making the fact that Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend were even able to walk onstage unassisted even more impressive. I’m glad they did not die before they got old.
This concert was a long time coming. Tara bought the tickets almost two years ago – a full 13+ months before they were scheduled to perform. And then, weeks before the concert, the band rescheduled a bunch of shows when Roger Daltrey developed viral meningitis. The September date was pushed back another eight months. I was beginning to doubt we’d ever actually get to see them play.
I’m so glad we did, though. We have seen a lot of great artists over the years: Bob Seger. Tom Petty. Crosby, Stills & Nash. Bruce Springsteen (twice). And those are only the old guys. Last night’s concert was so incredible, the experience felt almost transcendental. I rank it as one of the best I have ever seen. Only Springsteen impressed me more, and that’s probably because I’m such a huge fan of his.
Before the show, I was feeling kind of ho-hum about the whole thing. I love The Who, but the enormity of who they are (who who, who who) didn’t really sink in until yesterday. These guys were at Woodstock. They played the Monterey Pop Festival. Shared a stage with Jimi Hendrix. Their music kicked off many an episode of CSI. I don’t use the term “legends” loosely, but it’s The (freakin’) Who, man. They are rock royalty. And they were in fine form last night despite their advanced ages. Daltrey still swings that microphone around and Townshend’s still got his signature windmill pose. Maybe the voices are a little more gravelly than before, the notes sometimes a little out of reach, but what do you expect for guys who are 72 and 71 years old, respectively? They played every conceivable song you could hope for (unless you were dying to hear “Happy Jack” like the fella behind us). Their setlist included all their biggest hits (“Who Are You,” “Behind Blue Eyes,” “My Generation,” “Pinball Wizard,” “Love Reign O’er Me,” “Baba O’ Riley,” “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” etc.) and lasted a full two hours. It was nothing short of epic.
The concert was amazing. Good thing, because getting there and back was a clusterf*^k.
The last time we saw a concert at the Moda Center, back in March, we ran into one problem after another. We had planned on taking light rail to the arena, but as we were about to merge onto the freeway, a police car went roaring past and blocked the onramp due to an accident. We had to backtrack and ended up driving there, only to discover – once we arrived – that Tara had forgotten to bring the credit card she’d used to purchase the tickets, which was necessary due to some new paperless ticket scheme. It was all very stressful and we nearly missed the Springsteen show. This time, we figured, things would go much more smoothly.
Our first inkling of trouble came ten minutes into the ride. One second we were zipping along through north Portland, enjoying the scenery (if pay-by-the-hour motels and trashy liquor stores can be considered “scenic”), the next, we were at a dead stop on the tracks. The driver’s voice came over the intercom a moment later.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “Due to a fire a few blocks away, there will be a short delay while emergency response vehicles arrive on the scene.”
The “short delay” turned into 30 minutes. We were anxious, but had given ourselves plenty of extra time just in case, so we weren’t too worried about missing the show. Eventually we got underway again and made it to the Moda Center without further delay.
After the concert, we boarded the return train. “Well,” we confidently declared, “At least going back should be a much smoother experience.”
Ha. [Yes, again.]
Not more than a minute after pulling away from the Moda Center we were cruising down the tracks when there was a sudden loud crash, the grinding sound of metal scraping on metal, and a shower of sparks flying by our window. People were gasping and shouting. Turns out we had just hit a car.
Let me repeat. The train we were riding on had just hit a car.
Unbelievable, huh? Turns out some dumb-ass cab driver (don’t worry, he wasn’t hurt) decided to make an illegal U-turn across the light rail tracks. Never mind the fact that a train was bearing down on him at the time. Oopsie. In exchange for his stupidity, we took out the front of his taxi.
Our train came to a dead stop and was turned off. The driver came over the PA system.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” he intoned. “Due to the accident, there will be a delay while emergency response vehicles arrive on the scene.”
It was already 11 PM, and we had to be up early the next day for work. So naturally, that “short delay” stretched into half an hour, too. Eventually the train was taken out of service, and we were forced to disembark and board a shuttle bus, which finally deposited us at the park and ride lot a few minutes after midnight.
By the time we finally [FINALLY] got home, Tara and I had decided, quite simply, that – unlike Mr. Daltrey and Mr. Townshend – we have gotten too old for this shit. It’s a good thing The Who put on an incredible show, because the getting-there-and-back-again part straight up sucked. It’s going to be a long time before we decide to venture out to the Moda Center for a concert again. Led Zeppelin would need to get back together and have Pink Floyd open for them. Or vice-versa. Other than that, it ain’t happenin’.