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The Who plays first Cincinnati concert since 1979 tragedy; Pete Townshend: “There’s no words that we can say”

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Rick Kern/Getty Images for The Who

The Who made an emotional return to Cincinnati on Sunday to play their first concert in the city since the band’s infamous December 1979 show at the Riverfront Coliseum, where 11 young people died as fans rushed the venue’s doors before the event.

The British rock legends’ show on Sunday was the first concert ever at Cincinnati’s new TQL Stadium.

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Who guitarist Pete Townshend addressed the crowd during the show, saying, “I’ve been trying to think of why to say, what would be cool to say, what would be uncool to say, and really there’s no words that we can say that can mean [as much as] the fact that you guys have come out tonight and supported this event. Thank you so much.”

Townshend then referenced the fact the that The Who planned to donate proceeds from the concert to local charities, noting, “[Y]our money is going to great causes, many of which are related to what happened back here in Cincinnati in 1979, which is probably time for us to both remember and try to forget. … Anyway, it’s so lovely to be here.”

Prior to The Who taking the stage, a prerecorded video of Pearl Jam‘s Eddie Vedder was played, in which Vedder recalled how Townshend and Who singer Roger Daltrey gave him support after nine people were killed during a 2000 PJ concert in Denmark.

During Sunday’s show, photos of the 11 victims of the 1979 tragedy were shown on the video screen while Who touring keyboardist Loren Gold played the intro to “Love, Reign O’er Me.”

Also, 10 students from Finneytown High School, the school that three of the 1979 victims attended, joined the orchestra that accompanied The Who for the show’s final song, “Baba O’Riley.”

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