Even after 20 years, The Who still plays a mean rock opera. On the final leg of a 25-city extravaganza that began June 21, the group staged a star-streaked performance of 1969’s Tommy at Los Angeles’s Universal Amphitheatre. And the aging kids were all right, too, although bassist John Entwistle admitted, “I played two bars wrong in ‘You Better, You Bet.’ ” Nice cameos were turned in by Steve Winwood, Phil Collins, Billy Idol, Elton John and Patti LaBelle, the latter bringing the house down as the Acid Queen. “It was like a piece of history,” said LaBelle, coiffed as usual in her lacquered-hair halo.
With tickets going for up to $1,500 per, the concert raised more than $2 million for the Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Foundation for autistic children, among other charities, and for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But the evening’s really hot ticket was an invitation to the postconcert party at Universal’s Street of the World set, recently used for filming Dick Tracy. There much of the conversation focused on the difference between the original Tommy and this year’s model. “The music is better this time around,” observed Timothy Leary. “I was blown away.”
“I had better seats this time,” exulted Cheech Marin. “And no one was throwing up on me.”
The Who’s Roger Daltrey considered himself lucky just reaching the last note. “We don’t sing it very often, so it’s wonderful to have gotten through it. It was hair-raising.”
Just ask Patti LaBelle.