It turned out to be less than halfway through the band’s enduring lifespan, but on 24 August 1989, as part of the 25th anniversary tour by The Who, they played Tommy and much more at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles.
The LA gig was a star-studded affair. The Who’s performance of Pete Townshend’s rock opera featured guest appearances by Elton John (reprising his role in Ken Russell’s ‘Tommy’ film as the Pinball Wizard), Phil Collins, Billy Idol, Steve Winwood and Patti LaBelle, who played the Acid Queen. Robert Plant was billed to perform, but he pulled out of the LA show.
Ticket prices started at $75 and went all the way to $1,500, with proceeds going to charities for abused children and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The band were coming towards the end of the massive reunion tour of 1989 by the time they got to California.
The itinerary began on 21 June in Glen Falls, New York, filling stadiums throughout North America until 3 September. In October 1989, the tour finished with four shows in Birmingham, four at Wembley Arena and two closing nights at the Royal Albert Hall.
After featuring the whole of the Tommy opus, the Universal Amphitheatre gig followed the pattern of the North American tour with a second set of greatest hits, as well as three Townshend solo numbers, ‘Face The Face,’ ‘Dig’ and ‘Rough Boys.’ The band encored with two more enduring favourites, ‘Who Are You’ and Eddie Cochran‘s ‘Summertime Blues.’
Some songs from the Los Angeles show were included in the Join Together live album that followed the tour in the spring of 1990, which only nudged the bottom of the US chart at No. 188 and the UK listings at No. 59.