The Small fucking Who

My very first real concert (apart from tagging along with Graham Horne and his band (Jim Partridge, Larry Elliot, Pete Calvert and Roger Hickson) to church socials and going to Surfside in Milford to see a guy called Dennis in a blue and white striped T-shirt sing rhythm and blues) was The Who and The Small Faces on 29 January 1968 at the Auckland Town Hall.
Paul Jones was supposedly there, too.
I honestly don’t remember.

I’d wanted to see the Beatles in 1964 or 1965, but tickets cost £7 and in those (school) days I was getting maybe 10/- a week pocket money. And I was spending that on books and (once in a while) records.
Byrds, mostly.

But this was 1968 and I’d been working for a couple of years, had a Suzuki 150 (with the intakes modified to give it the “yooooowl” of the Yamaha YDS3 that I couldn’t afford) and I was earning OK-ish money at Blows Travel and Customs Agency.

There were three Blows brothers – Keith, Ron and Bruce – who had a big chunk of the forwarding business in Auckland tied up.

Bruce was the rough diamond. Ran a bonded customs warehouse in downtown Auckland.

Don was a bit more up market. He had the Auckland Customs Agency and imported virtually all the cars into Auckland. Drove a Reliant Scimitar and used to call us up when something interesting was on its way. Anything Ferrari. NSU Ro80. Lotus Elan.
In those days, you knew all interesting cars by sight. Auckland was a village. (People used to recognise my fake YDS3
“yooooowl”.No kidding.
And Don did the import for the Formula One cars that came through for the Tasman series every January. Bruce McLaren, Jimmy Clark, Chris Amon, Piers Courage, Jochen Rindt, Jack Brabham, Denny Hulme. So we got free tickets and pit passes for the races, which was pretty cool.

And then there was Keith, my boss. Keith was a real smoothy. Dressed in Italian suits, had an Italian Wife and a really snotty daughter called Bonita who drove a Fiat 850 fastback He’d branched out into the travel business and employed all sorts of slick, if not greasy, sales people and dolly birds. The REAL dollybirds didn’t normally last long before Italian Wife had them sacked.
Sort of Robert Palmer Sneaking Sally through the alley “You’d better find something wrong with her. KEITH.”

So we got the more flash sort of business in the forwarding field, with the tie-ins to the travel side of the business.

Like concert promoters.

Buy the travel arrangements from Keith and we’d do the customs bit.

The Who and The Small Faces turn up with tons of equipment, so you go out to the airport and clear the stuff (guitars, amps, mikes, drums, pyrotechnics… PYROTECHNICS?) through Customs and pay a deposit that you get back when everything’s re-exported after the concert.
And I got a couple of free tickets.

In between girlfriends at the time so I took my mate Martin Jones’ ex-girlfriend Annette Bierman (trainee nurse, nod, nod, wink, wink) along and I recall thinking

“I’ve never seen anything like this and I want more”
(Well yes, about Annette as well, but about the concert.)

The sound was probably crap, there was probably much deafening screaming, but I was hooked.
Electric piano, organ, drum ticking time on the lead-in, guitar, drums, Steve Marriott grabs the mike stand and screams “C’mon” and they rip into “Tin Soldier
And on and on

And then The ‘Oo


They wrecked their guitars, of course, and it became immediately apparent what the pyrotechnics were for.
You put them inside the drum kit and flick the switch.
BOOOM. No more drum kit
And then they sauntered off stage to create more havoc.
(This is what things were like back then.Sort of as if Attila the Hun, Cossacks and 3 SS divisions had invaded the country within minutes of each other, if you believed the papers)

I walked out in a trance.

I kept saying “That was so great! Wow! That was phenomenal! Weren’t they brilliant?” and Annette is going like “Well, they were good, but not THAT good to get so excited about it all” and I said “YES THEY WERE AND YES THEY ARE”

I think the intensity made her back off a bit.

So I go into work next day still buzzing and I’m telling Graeme Wahlers who ran the forwarding bit about how great it was and that they smashed their guitars and kicked over the amp stacks and blew up the drum kit and it was GREAT and he turned ashen pale.

Things dawned slowly.

We’d only get the deposit back if…. we…exported….everything…that….we’d….imported…….

Intact.

So it’s out to the airport a day or so later and saying to the the Customs guy “Look, this neck belongs to this body and the rest is probably in that pile over there” and “Well, here’s the BASS drum – what’s left of it anyway, heh, heh – and the skin, well, the skin probably got thrown in the rubbish at the Town Hall. Big fucking bang, I tell yer. Clouds of smoke. I’m surprised there’s ANYTHING left, to be honest.”

Took all day and we weren’t missing much in the end. Drum skins. Pyrotechnics. Bits of guitar.

Got back to the office and someone asked how it went and Graeme – not your died-in-the-wool pop person – he was 40, for Christ’s sake. Old – yelled ‘The Small fucking Who and the fucking Faces. I never want to hear about them again”, stormed into his office and slammed the door.

Didn’t talk about the concert much for a few days and then only in whispers.

But this is probably what they played.

Can’t explain
Happy Jack
Ithycoo Park
Tin Soldier (For sure…)
Whatcha gonna do about it
Summertime Blues
My Generation
All or nothing

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3 Responses to The Small fucking Who

  1. >This is one of the best pieces in your blog. I know NZ music was even bigger in the 80’s than now… This would be before that, even, wouldn’t it.

  2. >Would have loved to have seen that concert! That's a list of songs I loved. Now I must go find Itchycoo Park and listen to it.Now I know how all the destruction started. "Auckland was a village." Wow.

  3. Pingback: “Meet the new boss… #1743 « Mainz Daily Photo

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