The Who Tour 1989

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The Who Tour 1989
Tour by The Who
Start date 21 June 1989
End date 2 November 1989
Legs 2
Number of shows 50
The Who concert chronology

The Who Tour 1989 was The Who's reunion tour in celebration of their 25th anniversary and their first without drummer Kenney Jones, who had replaced Keith Moon in 1979. It was the band's only tour between 1982 and 1996.


The group debated on how to celebrate their 25th anniversary (actually the 25th anniversary of their being joined by Keith Moon, as opposed to when the group first formed), eventually deciding on a tour instead of a new studio album. However, there would be widespread changes in the band's live presentation from their previous tours, largely at Pete Townshend's behest. Citing difficulties with his hearing due to tinnitus, Townshend wanted the band to play at a lesser volume than in previous years and now preferred to play acoustic guitar for much of the act, necessitating a second guitarist to handle much of the lead guitar duties, though Townshend would still play a fair amount of electric guitar and play lead on certain numbers. The original picks to play lead were Joe Walsh and David Gilmour (who was Pete's first choice when he told Bob Coburn on 'Rockline' that he wanted Gilmour for the tour; Gilmour bowed out due to a Pink Floyd tour of Europe in 1989), the group eventually chose Steve "Boltz" Bolton, who had played with Atomic Rooster and Paul Young in years past. The group also decided to part ways with drummer Kenney Jones and recruited Simon Phillips, with whom Townshend had worked on his 1980 solo album Empty Glass, to take his place for the tour. A number of additional personnel were added as well, including a five-piece horn section (playing on roughly half the songs in the set) and backup singers, for a total of 15 band members in all. The large number of performers and the playing styles of Bolton (who relied heavily on the tremolo arm and made occasional use of the wah-wah pedal) and Phillips made for a very different sound than anything the band had presented in the past, drawing mixed reviews from fans and critics.

The tour started with an eleven-week stint in the US over the summer, followed by ten dates in the UK in the autumn. These included three charity shows featuring the rock opera Tommy, performed more or less complete for the first time since 1970 and with special guests such as Elton John, Phil Collins, and Billy Idol; another Tommy performance at New York City's Radio City Music Hall did not feature special guests. Two live radio broadcasts also occurred during the tour, the Radio City Music Hall date in June and the show at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas on the last night of the North American tour; an edited broadcast of the charity concert at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles later aired on the Fox Network.

Shows on the tour often ran for three hours or more and the set list varied from one point to another, with group mixing in familiar material with lesser-known songs like John Entwistle's "Trick of the Light" and a few tracks from Townshend's solo efforts. The band occasionally performed "Dig", one of the two new Who songs included on Townshend's latest album, The Iron Man, as well as acoustic performances of rare numbers such as "Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand" and "Too Much of Anything", neither of which the band had played more than a handful of times in the past. Additionally, they played a number of cover tunes: "I'm a Man" (familiar from the band's debut album, My Generation) featured electric guitar solos from Townshend, as did "Hey Joe", played in an homage to Jimi Hendrix; Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Born on the Bayou" was also performed sporadically. Meanwhile, the four performances of Tommy were even more complete than when the band played it in 19691970 and included both "Cousin Kevin" and "Sensation".

Following the 1989 shows and the band's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in January 1990, The Who would not reunite again until 1996, the longest period of inactivity in their history.

Live releases[edit]

Live material from 1989 has appeared on a number of different releases:

Tour band[edit]

Touring Personnel:

Typical set lists[edit]

North American leg[edit]

The group's first concert in six and a half years took place at the Glens Falls Civic Center in Glens Falls, New York on 21 June and the tour ran non-stop (save one five-day break) until the final date on 3 September at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Earlier shows on the tour featured very experimental set lists that included material from Pete Townshend's most recent album The Iron Man, as well as songs like John Entwistle's "Too Late the Hero" and the Boudleaux Bryant standard "Love Hurts", which the band had covered occasionally from 19651967. They also performed "I'm a Boy" for the first time since 1974 during a show at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. With a few exceptions, the shows opened with selections from the rock opera Tommy.

Set lists included the following most nights (all songs written by Pete Townshend unless otherwise specified):

  1. "Overture"
  2. "It's a Boy"
  3. "1921"
  4. "Amazing Journey"
  5. "Sparks"
  6. "The Acid Queen"
  7. "Pinball Wizard"
  8. "Do You Think It's Alright?" (dropped after 16 July; except for 24 August)
  9. "Fiddle About" (John Entwistle) (dropped after 16 July; except for 24 August)
  10. "I'm Free" (dropped after 16 July; except for 24 August)
  11. "Tommy's Holiday Camp" (Keith Moon) (dropped after 16 July; except for 24 August)
  12. "We're Not Gonna Take It"/"See Me, Feel Me"
  13. "Eminence Front" (appeared regularly starting 16 July)
  14. "Face the Face"
  15. "I'm a Man" (Bo Diddley)
  16. "I Can't Explain"
  17. "Substitute"
  18. "I Can See for Miles"
  19. "Trick of the Light" (Entwistle)
  20. "Boris the Spider" (Entwistle)
  21. "Who Are You" (followed by 15-minute intermission)
  22. "Magic Bus"
  23. "Baba O'Riley"
  24. "My Generation"
  25. "A Little Is Enough"
  26. "5.15"
  27. "Love Reign O'er Me"
  28. "Sister Disco"
  29. "Rough Boys"
  30. "Join Together"
  31. "You Better You Bet"
  32. "Behind Blue Eyes"
  33. "Won't Get Fooled Again"

In addition to the list above, the set was also supplemented by a few of the following additional songs each night, appearing in various places in the set (all songs written by Pete Townshend unless otherwise specified):

  • "I Won't Run Anymore"
    • Performed on 21 and 23 June.
  • "All Shall Be Well"
    • Performed on 21, 23 and 30 June and 10 July.
  • "A Friend Is a Friend"
    • Performed on 21, 23, 24, 27, 29 and 30 June; and 2, 3, 6, 7, 12, 14, 16, 21, 22, 23 and 29 July.
  • "Love Hurts" (Boudleaux Bryant)
    • Performed on 21, 23, 24, 29 and 30 June; and 2, 3, 6, 9, 10 and 14 July.
  • "Too Late the Hero" (John Entwistle)
    • Performed on 21, 23, 24, 29 and 30 June.
  • "My Wife" (Entwistle)
    • Performed on 21, 23, 24, 27 and 29 June; and 2, 3, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14 and 16 July.
  • "Give Blood"
    • Performed on 21 and 23 June; and 25 July.
  • "Too Much of Anything"
    • Performed on 21 and 30 June; and 10 and 14 July.
  • "Save It For Later" (Roger Charlery, Andy Cox, Everett Morton, David Steele, Dave Wakeling)
    • Performed on 23 and 29 June.
  • "Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand"
    • Performed on 24 and 29 June; and 2, 6, 7, 12, 16, 23 and 29 July; and 8 and 9 August and 2 September.
  • "Let My Love Open the Door"
    • Performed on 24, 29 and 30 June; and 2, 7, 9 (as encore), 27 and 30 July; and 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 13, 18, 22, 26, 29 and 30 August.
  • "I'm One"
    • Performed on 3, 6, 9, 10 and 14 July; and 9 and 13 August
  • "Secondhand Love"
    • Performed on 9, 10 and 12 July; and 5 and 7 August.
  • "Dimples" (John Lee Hooker, James Bracken)
    • Performed (loosely at the end of "Sister Disco") on 9 July.
  • "Boom Boom" (Hooker)
    • Performed (loosely at the end of "Sister Disco") on 9 July.

The set list from the show on 27 June in New York and the show from 24 August in Los Angeles featured complete versions of Tommy, the latter with special guests (all songs written by Pete Townshend unless otherwise specified):

  1. "Overture"
  2. "It's a Boy"
  3. "1921"
  4. "Amazing Journey"
  5. "Sparks"
  6. "Eyesight to the Blind" (Sonny Boy Williamson II) (featuring Steve Winwood in Los Angeles)
  7. "Christmas"
  8. "Cousin Kevin" (John Entwistle) (featuring Billy Idol in Los Angeles)
  9. "The Acid Queen" (featuring Patti LaBelle in Los Angeles)
  10. "Pinball Wizard" (featuring Elton John in Los Angeles)
  11. "Do You Think It's Alright?"
  12. "Fiddle About" (Entwistle) (featuring Phil Collins in Los Angeles)
  13. "There's a Doctor"
  14. "Go to the Mirror!"
  15. "Smash the Mirror"
  16. "Tommy, Can You Hear Me?"
  17. "I'm Free"
  18. "Miracle Cure"
  19. "Sally Simpson"
  20. "Sensation"
  21. "Tommy's Holiday Camp" (Keith Moon) (featuring Phil Collins in Los Angeles)
  22. "We're Not Gonna Take It"/"See Me, Feel Me"

Encores on this leg (variations of the following list):

  • "Pictures of Lily"
    • Performed on 21, 24 and 30 June; and 9 and 22 August.
  • "Twist and Shout" (Phil Medley, Bert Russell)
    • Performed on 21 and 24 June; and 2, 10, 12, 16, 23 and 29 July; and 5, 7, 11, 13, 19, 22, 26, 29 and 30 August.
  • "Summertime Blues" (Eddie Cochran, Jerry Capehart)
    • Performed on 21 (not as encore), 23 and 30 June; and 3, 6, 9, 14, 18, 19, 21, 22, 25, 27 and 30 July; and 8, 9, 18, 19 and 24 August.
  • "Naked Eye"
    • Performed on 21 (not as encore) and 30 June; and 3, 6, 16 and 23 July; and 13 and 29 August.
  • "Hey Joe" (Billy Roberts)
    • Performed on 21 (not as encore), 24 and 29 June; and 3, 7, 9, 10, 14, 18, 19, 21, 22, 25, 27, 29 and 30 July; and 5, 7, 8, 11, 16, 18, 26 and 30 August; and 2 and 3 September.
  • "Barefootin'" (Robert Parker)
    • Performed on 29 June.
  • "I'm a Boy"
    • Performed on 30 June.
  • "Shakin' All Over" (Johnny Kidd)
    • Performed on 2 July.
  • "Tattoo"
    • Performed on 3 and 9 (not as encore) July.
  • "Dig"
    • Performed on 14, 16, 18, 21 (not as encore), 22, 23, 25, 27 and 30 July; and 8, 9 (not as encore), 11 (not as encore), 11 (not as encore), 18, 24 (not as encore), 26 and 30 August.
  • "Born on the Bayou" (John Fogerty)
    • Performed on 23 July; and 16 and 30 August; and 2 and 3 September.
  • "Night Train" (Oscar Washington, Lewis P. Simpkins, Jimmy Forrest)
    • Performed on 11 August.
  • "The Real Me"
    • Performed on 11 and 30 August; and 2 and 3 September.

Three shows on the tour featured slightly shorter set lists: the show on 27 June at Radio City Music Hall in New York was shortened due to the live radio broadcast, while the last two shows of the tour in Houston and Dallas on 2 and 3 September featured Stevie Ray Vaughan and The Fabulous Thunderbirds as the opening acts (the Dallas show was also broadcast live). Townshend was forced to miss the encore during the show on 16 August at the Tacoma Dome when he impaled his right hand on the tremolo arm of his guitar while doing one of his trademark "windmills" during "Won't Get Fooled Again", barely escaping serious injury.

English leg[edit]

The band played a small series of shows in England following a one-month break, starting on 6 October with the first of four shows at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham and concluding with two concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Much like the show on 24 August in Los Angeles, the last two dates were charity performances featuring complete versions of Tommy, and with the same special guests (see above).

Except for the first show in Birmingham and the first charity show at the Royal Albert Hall, the Tommy segment did not open the show as in North America. Below is a typical set list for most of the English dates (all songs written by Pete Townshend unless otherwise specified):

  1. "I Can't Explain"
  2. "Substitute"
  3. "I Can See for Miles"
  4. "Eminence Front"
  5. "Face the Face"
  6. "Pictures of Lily"
  7. "Trick of the Light" (John Entwistle)
  8. "Boris the Spider" (Entwistle)
  9. "I'm a Man" (Bo Diddley)
  10. "Overture"
  11. "It's a Boy"
  12. "1921"
  13. "Amazing Journey"
  14. "Sparks"
  15. "The Acid Queen"
  16. "Pinball Wizard"
  17. "We're Not Gonna Take It"/"See Me, Feel Me" (followed by a 15-minute intermission)
  18. "Magic Bus"
  19. "Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand"
  20. "Baba O'Riley"
  21. "My Generation"
  22. "A Little Is Enough"
  23. "5.15"
  24. "Love Reign O'er Me"
  25. "Sister Disco"
  26. "Rough Boys"
  27. "Join Together"
  28. "You Better You Bet"
  29. "Behind Blue Eyes"
  30. "Won't Get Fooled Again"

Three concerts opened with the Tommy set. The first Birmingham show on 6 October opened with the short set, while the final two shows at the Royal Albert Hall in London opened with nearly full performances of the album (although the second one had three songs before the Tommy set). "Secondhand Love" was also performed during the early part of the set on 7 October.

Encores (variations of the following list):

Roger Daltrey left the stage in the middle of "Behind Blue Eyes" during the show at Wembley Arena on 26 October, having struggled with the flu throughout the night; Townshend handled lead vocals for the rest of the song, plus "Won't Get Fooled Again", and the band played the encore without Daltrey.

Tour dates[edit]

Date City Country Venue
North America
21 June 1989 Glens Falls United States Glens Falls Civic Center
23 June 1989 Toronto Canada CNE Stadium
24 June 1989
27 June 1989 New York City United States Radio City Music Hall
29 June 1989 East Rutherford Giants Stadium
30 June 1989
2 July 1989
3 July 1989
6 July 1989 Washington, D.C. RFK Stadium
7 July 1989
9 July 1989 Philadelphia Veterans Stadium
10 July 1989
12 July 1989 Foxborough Sullivan Stadium
14 July 1989
16 July 1989 Pittsburgh Three Rivers Stadium
18 July 1989 Orchard Park Rich Stadium
19 July 1989 Cleveland Cleveland Stadium
21 July 1989 East Troy Alpine Valley Music Theatre
22 July 1989
23 July 1989
25 July 1989 Pontiac Pontiac Silverdome
27 July 1989 Raleigh Carter–Finley Stadium
29 July 1989 Tampa Tampa Stadium
30 July 1989 Miami Gardens Joe Robbie Stadium
5 August 1989 Kansas City Arrowhead Stadium
7 August 1989 Atlanta Lakewood Amphitheater
8 August 1989
9 August 1989
11 August 1989 St. Louis+ Busch Memorial Stadium
13 August 1989 Boulder Folsom Field
16 August 1989 Tacoma Tacoma Dome
18 August 1989 Vancouver Canada BC Place
19 August 1989
22 August 1989 San Diego United States Jack Murphy Stadium
24 August 1989 Los Angeles Universal Amphitheatre
26 August 1989 Los Angeles Coliseum
29 August 1989 Oakland Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
30 August 1989
2 September 1989 Houston Astrodome
3 September 1989 Dallas Cotton Bowl
6 October 1989 Birmingham England National Exhibition Centre
7 October 1989
9 October 1989
10 October 1989
23 October 1989 London Wembley Arena
24 October 1989
26 October 1989
27 October 1989
31 October 1989 Royal Albert Hall
2 November 1989

See also[edit]

External links[edit]