JENNINGS: Memories of The Who's Buffalo show rain down

Kenney Jones, second from left, has fond memories of The Who's 1982 show in Buffalo.

A few weeks ago, I interviewed Robby Takac about the Goo Goo Dolls legendary July 4, 2004 show. As I was finishing up my interview with him, I asked about some memorable shows he attended and the first one he mentioned was The Who with the Clash at Rich Stadium on Sept. 26, 1982.

It was a Sunday afternoon performance, with gates opening at 11:30 a.m. for the sold-out show. The show’s opener was former New York Doll’s frontman David Johansen, who went onstage at 1:30 p.m.

Billed as a farewell tour for The Who, the group returned to Rich Stadium before the end of the 1980s, albeit with less fanfare. As it turned out, it was a farewell tour of sorts for the Clash. A year after the Clash’s performance in Buffalo, Mick Jones was out of the band, and by 1986 they were gone for good.

It had been a rough few years for The Who leading up to 1982. In 1978 their original drummer Keith Moon died of a drug overdose. In December of 1979, 11 fans were crushed to death at a show in Cincinnati and guitarist Pete Townshend was battling a heroin addiction.

By September of 1982 the band had released a popular album, “It’s Hard” and while the tour did not wind up being their last, the 1982 tour had a sense of urgency and was an opportunity for The Who to take a victory lap, performing to massive stadium crowds.

Drummer Kenney Jones had the unenviable task of taking over for Keith Moon. Jones had a different style, and by 1982 he was an integral part of The Who, and made a mark during his tenure with his drum work on song’s like “You Better You Bet,” and “Cry if You Want.”

Jones only performed with The Who in Buffalo twice but when I talked to him by phone last week, he didn’t waste any time talking about the show at Rich Stadium.

“I definitely remember that one. It was the third date of the tour and we drove to that one from Philadelphia,” he recalled.

“One of the songs we were doing was ‘Love Reign O’er Me’ and I remember Roger singing the word ‘rain,’ and the sky opened up and it started pouring rain. When he finished the song, it stopped. How can you forget a moment like that?”

When he was reminded that Pete Townshend told the Buffalo crowd, “Even the Rolling Bones couldn’t pull that off,” Jones let out a laugh and said, “Yes, that is exactly right.”

It was a raucous performance, and even many years later there are reviews online that point to the Buffalo show as one of the highlights of the tour. After “Love Reign O’er Me” the band broke into a fiery version of “Long Live Rock” and they closed the night with a bombastic version of “Twist and Shout.”

“That show and one we did in Toronto were the most memorable shows for me on that tour,” Jones recalled.

Our connection was spotty since Jones is in the U.K, but he recalled the era with fondness except for that fateful night in Cincinnati, and the following night when the band performed in Buffalo.

“The time we were there in Buffalo before that stadium show, it was right after Cincinnati, and we were all numb. I’ll never forget that either.”

When the Who returned to Buffalo in 1989, Jones had been replaced by drummer Simon Philips. Bassist John Entwistle died in 2002, which prevented a full reunion with Jones and The Who. Jones did perform with Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend in June of 2014 at a benefit concert for prostate cancer in the U.K.

 

Thom Jennings covers the local music scene for Night and Day.

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