The Who 1985 and 1988 reunions

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The Who 1985 and 1988 Reunions
Tour by The Who
Start date 13 July 1985
End date 8 February 1988
Legs 2
No. of shows 2
The Who concert chronology

The Who performed only twice between their 1982 and 1989 tours, both short reunions that were nonetheless highly anticipated. The first took place in 1985 for the Live Aid concert and the second in 1988 for the BPI Awards. These were the last two occasions in which the band performed with Kenney Jones on drums.


Two and a half years after the group finished their "farewell tour", they were persuaded by Live Aid organiser Bob Geldof to appear in the London segment of the monumental concert, which took place on 13 July 1985 at Wembley Stadium. They were rejoined by keyboard player John "Rabbit" Bundrick, who had played with them from 1979 to 1981, but not in 1982. The performance was energetic, but problematic: a problem with John Entwistle's bass guitar briefly delayed the start of their set, only to have the BBC's power cut out during the second verse of "My Generation", resulting in only the audio being transmitted for the last part of this song and "Pinball Wizard"; the video resumed for "Love Reign O'er Me". Prior to "Won't Get Fooled Again", Pete Townshend announced "I think we're just about getting there…wherever it is we're supposed to end up." The guitarist then lost his balance when doing one of his trademark kicks towards the end of the song, although he recovered quickly. Despite all this, the band's showing was well received and is one of the most lasting images from the event, although another two and a half years would pass before they would reunite again.

On 8 February 1988, the band reformed once more for a three-song set for that year's BPI Awards at London's Royal Albert Hall, having been honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the British Phonographic Industry. Again there was an issue with the program's transmission, as the ceremony ran late and the band's performance was faded out at the conclusion of the broadcast. This would be Kenney Jones' last performance with the group until a short one-off performance in June 2014.

Tour band (both performances)[edit]

Additional musicians

Set lists[edit]

13 July 1985 "Live Aid" Concert[edit]

The band had initially hoped to perform "After the Fire", a song Pete Townshend had composed about the troubles in Ethiopia that had served as the inspiration for Live Aid, but this did not come to fruition (although Roger Daltrey would record the song for his album Under a Raging Moon, released later that year; The Who would finally perform the track during a few shows in late 1999). Instead they played four numbers that had been mainstays of their last tour in 1982. Confusion resulted in the complete omission of the middle verse of "Won't Get Fooled Again", as the band missed the entire key change and only recovered when it was too late; an effective reprise (also typical in the 1982 shows) salvaged the number to an extent.

Complete setlist (all songs written by Pete Townshend unless otherwise specified):

  1. "My Generation"
  2. "Pinball Wizard"
  3. "Love Reign O'er Me"
  4. "Won't Get Fooled Again"

8 February 1988 BPI Awards[edit]

The three-song set performed here was truncated due to the time constraints of awards show's broadcast. Following a hurried introduction, they began with a very chopped-down version of "Who Are You" that ran less than three and a half minutes, whereas the song's usual length is well over six. Next was "My Generation", which took singer Roger Daltrey by surprise as he was removing his jacket, resulting in his missing the first verse and briefly throwing the band into disarray. They finished with a slightly abbreviated version of "Substitute".

Complete setlist (all songs written by Pete Townshend unless otherwise specified):

  1. "Who Are You"
  2. "My Generation"
  3. "Substitute"

Performance dates[edit]

Date City Country Venue
13 July 1985 London England Wembley Stadium (Live Aid)
8 February 1988 Royal Albert Hall (BPI Awards)

See also[edit]

External links[edit]