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The Who "Leeds" Summer Tour Season

The Who camp is flush with activity as the band prepares to kick off its summer European tour Saturday at Leeds University, the site of its iconic 1970 concert album "Live at Leeds."

A number of rarely played old songs have been reintroduced to the band's live set thanks to "special requests from fans."

According to guitarist Pete Townshend's Web site (http://www.petetownshend.co.uk), they include "Relay," "The Seeker," "Another Tricky Day," "Naked Eye," "Bargain, "I'm a Boy," "Let's See Action" and "Tattoo," plus the obscure "Cry if You Want," from the Who's final studio album, 1982's "It's Hard."

The artist also is promising more rarities (including his ukulele song "Blue, Red and Gray") to be rolled out one by one by the time the Who hits North America later this year. Venues are still being nailed down, but that portion of the outing will run from September 7 to October 10 and November 5 to December 5.

Townshend said he is particularly excited to feature the band's new mini-opera, "Wire & Glass," in the shows.

The six-song suite ("Sound Round," "Pick up the Peace," "Endless Wire," "We Got a Hit," "They Made My Dreams Come True" and "Mirror Door") will be released July 10 internationally as a teaser to the Who's as-yet-untitled new studio album, which he says will be delivered in completed form June 28 to Polydor, the band's international record label.

"We are playing it. It sounds great," Townshend said of the "Wire & Glass" material. "It's new, and that feels strange. We haven't played anything new for such a long time, but it's also familiar -- I remember playing new songs to audiences who were really unsure they wanted to hear them. This selection is 11 minutes long, we will blast through it, and if the crowd gets distracted they can buy our fabulous merchandising."

Ever the iconoclast, Townshend has hinted at, but not revealed, "a very cool idea for how to launch our new record using the Web. If we can pull it off it will entirely change the way the music industry operates."

"If you are a Russian or Chinese Internet music seller, or a bootlegger, and you are refusing to pay a share of what you charge your customers to the artists who made the music, my cunning plan will ruin your year."

By Jonathan Cohen, NEW YORK (Billboard)

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June 22, 2006

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