The Who Tour 1981

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The Who Tour 1981
Tour by The Who
John Entwisle 1987.jpg
Bass guitarist John Entwistle at the Apollo in Manchester, England during March 1981
Associated albumFace Dances
Start date25 January 1981
End date28 March 1981
No. of shows27
The Who concert chronology

The Who Tour 1981 was The Who's third concert tour since the death of original drummer Keith Moon, with most dates performed in advance of the release of their recently recorded Face Dances album. Aside from a performance on the German TV program Rockpalast at the end of the tour, it was strictly a United Kingdom venture, with four shows in Scotland, one in Wales, and the rest in England. It was the group's first UK tour since 1975.


Although the Face Dances album was completed by the end of 1980, it was not released until the 1981 tour had almost ended, meaning the new material played on the tour was entirely unfamiliar to audiences. Set lists from 1981 varied from one point of the tour to another, with the band experimenting with different song orders – for example, long-time show closer "Won't Get Fooled Again" appeared in the middle of the set early in the tour, with "Who Are You" serving as the closer. New songs performed each night were "You Better You Bet", "Don't Let Go the Coat", "The Quiet One", and "Another Tricky Day", while "Did You Steal My Money" was played occasionally and a loose version of "How Can You Do It Alone" appeared in an encore during one show. A very obscure song-segment that has never appeared in any official release, "You Stand Naked", was also performed during the encore of the show of 31 January at St Austell. Additionally, early versions of "Communication" can be heard in improvisations during the first show in St Austell on 30 January; the final version of "Communication" was released on Pete Townshend's 1982 solo album All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes. This represented the most new material The Who had performed on a tour since they supported Quadrophenia in 19731974.

The brass section the band carried for most of 1979 and all of 1980 was not retained in 1981, meaning John "Rabbit" Bundrick was the only extra musician in addition to the four official band members.

Tour band[edit]


Typical set lists[edit]

UK tour[edit]

Following rehearsals at The Rainbow Theatre, from 19th - 22nd January, the UK tour began on 25 January 1981 at Granby Halls in Leicester and ended on 16 March 1981 at the Poole Arts Centre in Poole. Here is a fairly typical set list (all songs written by Pete Townshend unless otherwise specified):

  1. "Substitute"
  2. "I Can't Explain"
  3. "Baba O'Riley"
  4. "The Quiet One" (John Entwistle)
  5. "Don't Let Go the Coat"
  6. "Sister Disco "
  7. "Music Must Change" (Replaced with "Dreaming from the Waist" after 2 March)
  8. "You Better You Bet"
  9. "Drowned"
  10. "Another Tricky Day"
  11. "Behind Blue Eyes"
  12. "Pinball Wizard"
  13. "The Punk and the Godfather" (Added on 9 February)
  14. "Who Are You" (closed the regular set at some earlier shows)
  15. "5.15"
  16. "My Generation" (usually including "Whatcha Gonna Do About It" (Ian Samwell, Ronnie Lane, Steve Marriott) starting 31 January)
  17. "Won't Get Fooled Again" (played earlier in the set at some earlier shows)

Encores (variations of the following list):

There were some set list substitutions, variations, and order switches during the tour. "Sister Disco" was the second song during the first concert in Leicester, which had an especially experimental set list. Some other songs were played which are not in the above lists:

Live releases[edit]

Live material from the band's 28 March 1981 Rockpalast performance, recorded at the Grugahalle in Essen, West Germany appears on the 2009 reissue of Thirty Years of Maximum R&B Live as a second disc.

Rockpalast TV appearance[edit]

On 28 March, shortly after the UK tour, the group appeared on the German TV program Rockpalast, playing a slightly abbreviated set. This performance later appeared on the reissue of Thirty Years of Maximum R&B Live. All songs written by Pete Townshend unless otherwise specified.

  1. "Substitute"
  2. "I Can't Explain"
  3. "Baba O'Riley"
  4. "The Quiet One" (John Entwistle)
  5. "Don't Let Go the Coat"
  6. "Sister Disco "
  7. "You Better You Bet"
  8. "Drowned"
  9. "Behind Blue Eyes"
  10. "Another Tricky Day"
  11. "Pinball Wizard"
  12. "Who Are You"
  13. "5.15"
  14. "My Generation" (including "Whatcha Gonna Do About It" (Ian Samwell, Ronnie Lane, Steve Marriott))
  15. "Won't Get Fooled Again"


  1. "Summertime Blues" (Eddie Cochran, Jerry Capehart)
  2. "Twist and Shout" (Phil Medley, Bert Russell)
  3. "See Me, Feel Me"

Tour dates[edit]

Date City Country Venue
25 January 1981 Leicester England Granby Halls[1]
26 January 1981 Sheffield Sheffield City Hall
30 January 1981 St Austell Cornwall Coliseum
31 January 1981
3 February 1981 London Rainbow Theatre
4 February 1981
7 February 1981 Brighton Brighton Centre
8 February 1981 London Lewisham Odeon
9 February 1981
14 February 1981 Glasgow Scotland The Apollo
19 February 1981 Edinburgh Edinburgh Playhouse
20 February 1981
24 February 1981 Newcastle upon Tyne England Newcastle City Hall
25 February 1981
28 February 1981 Queensferry Wales Deeside Leisure Centre
1 March 1981 Manchester England Manchester Apollo
2 March 1981
6 March 1981 Birmingham Birmingham International Arena
7 March 1981
9 March 1981 London Wembley Arena
10 March 1981
11 March 1981
14 March 1981 Southampton Gaumont Theatre
15 March 1981
16 March 1981 Poole Poole Arts Centre[1]
TV appearance
28 March 1981 Essen Germany Grugahalle (Rockpalast TV program)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "1981 Archives - The Who". Retrieved 6 July 2019.

External links[edit]