Quadrophenia Tour Will Provide Further Focus On Mod Life

the who quadrophenia tourWith The Who once again bringing their Quadrophenia tour to the UK and Ireland in the summer of 2013, there is no doubt that there will be a media wide focus on mod culture. The film, for all of its successes or failures, remains one of the most potent visualisations of mod culture and it remains a huge influence on so many people turning to the mod way of life. Great music, fashion, spending time with friends and having an attitude towards life lies at the heart of the film and it is easy to see why the film lies at the heart of what is important for so many mods and people who hold mod culture close to their heart.

Long before the film was released in 1979, The Who released ‘Quadrophenia’, their sixth studio album in 1973. It was billed as a rock opera, the band’s second release of this nature after ‘Tommy’. Weighing in as a double album, songwriter Pete Townshend classed it as the peak of writing career and it was the album that re-connected the group with a younger audience.

The narrative of the album was based upon the social, music and even psychological state of minds for teenagers in London in 1965. While the album was focused on the lead character Jimmy and his different personalities, the film took a more rounded approach and drew heavily on mod culture.

Music is always a part of youth culture

Virtually every youth culture movement of the last 100 years has been linked to music so it is no surprise that music is central to the image and identity of a mod. The Who provided the majority of the soundtrack for the film but a number of other major artists who were popular on the scene in the mid-1960s were also included. With cafes and parties packed to the rafters with people and powered by the up-tempo soundtrack, it is no surprise to see dancehalls as being the main places where people would congregate.

Whether people flocked to hear the latest songs, to show off their dancing skills, to look good in their latest clothes, or to catch the eye of someone they were attracted to, music was the element that brought people and the whole culture together.

Everybody wants the party to keep on going

While the use of drugs remains a controversial subject for many, and it is possible to be a mod without the use of illegal substances, many people will agree that mod culture and drugs went hand in hand. The film captured this very well with the liberal use of amphetamines from all of the lead characters. Whether it was to keep partying all night or to feel more liberated and in touch with the music, amphetamines featured strongly in the film. It is not as if mod culture is unique in having a close relationship with drugs. At the time, Northern Soul was similarly linked to amphetamines, rock n roll is strongly associated with various drugs and in modern times, dance music has been almost universally linked to ecstasy use by the media.

For music and cinema fans outside of the mod scene, the liberal use of amphetamines in the film may have been shocking but, it was a true representation of the average weekend lifestyle of many mods.

The above factors formed the basis for the life of a mod and this is one reason the film Quadrophenia touches on employment. Throughout the first half of the film, the monotony of Jimmy’s working life is reinforced but of course, anyone that wants to be able to afford the music, the fashion, the scooter and even the drugs needs to be able to pay for it all. When Jimmy is chided for taking a day off work, he is reminded that if he wants to be able to afford the good life, he needs to be able to pay for it all, emphasising the need for balance in life.

Even today, even though times have greatly changed since the height of mod popularity captured in the film, or even the resurgence which came after the film’s release, many of the driving forces which encouraged people to turn to mod culture are alive today.

The feeling of living for the weekend and looking to enjoy yourself as much as possible outside of work to take away from the humdrum nature of work and family life is as prevalent today as it was back then. While the album stands as one of the best Who albums, the film managed to connect with so many people and the tour will be a great way for young and old to see the story of their lives played out in front of them once again. The price of the tour may cause debate and conjecture but the stories and songs played out on stage will resonate with every attendee, regardless of age or background.

The Who Parka

Functionality At The Heart Of Mod Culture Too

While fashion sense and not wanting to be the same as everybody else will always remain at the heart of mod culture, it would be fair to say that other aspects have been an influence on the style and development of what is seen as mod culture. The term mod is almost used as a by-word on staying up to date and being in the latest fashion, which is certainly some of the story and culture of being a mod, but it is far from being all of it.

While the fine-style and good cut of clothing is one of the most important factors in the choices a mod makes, there have been many instances where functionality has been the important element in introducing something to mod culture.

With public transport stopping early, there needed to be a way to get home late at night after clubs and coffee bars closed up for the night. Walking home wasn’t always a safe idea and the idea of walking for hours was an unappealing idea. This meant that mods needed to find a vehicle that would allow them to travel safely late at night, but also be within their budget. Nowadays the scooter is seen as one of the most important icons of mod culture, but when the culture was just starting out, there were options available before the scooter found itself to be the number one choice for a variety of different reasons.

Price is always a factor

The price of a scooter was a strong factor in why it quickly became the vehicle of choice. While many mods would think nothing of ploughing all of their disposable income into their lifestyle, there were still a lot of choices to be made. Music, clothes, entertainment and even drugs all had to be factored into the calculations of how money would be spent so anything which provided a good transport solution, but ensure that there was money left for other elements was going to be a great option. In this respect, the scooter was an obvious choice being available for a more affordable price than a car or motorbike.

The financial benefits of buying a scooter were soon added to by their convenience. In comparison to bikes, scooters were a far cleaner vehicle. Grease stains were a common complaint for many bikers and in some ways necessitated the wearing of leathers. Very quickly the whole culture of the youth groups started to become tied up in their vehicles and the clothes that would go well with their vehicles.

Rockers on motor bikes would inevitably get messy so the use of black leather would ensure that grease was never too much of a problem. This was not as prevalent for mods, but while the vehicle itself was not a problem with regards to clothes getting dirty, there was little protection provided by the scooter itself.

Stay clean and look good

In many ways, this is why the use of a parka became synonymous with mod culture. When driving a scooter, splashes from puddles, dirt and rain could all mess up the best clothes so wearing a long parka was a convenient and functional way to keep a mod’s main attire clean while driving. Very quickly, the parka became strongly associated with the mod movement, but its initial introduction was linked to the convenience it brought drivers and passengers.

A lot is made of the use of amphetamines in mod culture and many people have focused on the fact that taking drugs can be viewed as an act of rebellion, or as a way to alter the current reality. In reality, the use of amphetamines was so prevalent because it allowed mods to stay awake and have more time for fun.

With the working week impacting on the lives of so many people, there was a need to squeeze as much fun out of the weekend as possible. Time spent sleeping on a Friday night into a Saturday morning or a Saturday into Sunday was time lost from the pursuit of breaking away from the monotony of the working week. Using amphetamines provided people with the impetus and drive to stay up for much longer, providing them with the chance to dance and socialise for a lot longer. It also helped to ensure that drivers were more awake when driving late at night.

Even though there were less drugs to choose from during the initial mod era, the benefits and functionality of amphetamines made them the obvious choice.

Given that mod culture managed to impact on every aspect of a person’s life, it makes sense that many of the elements were initially chosen to make life easier, or to make life better. Fashion may always be a major factor for mods but functionality has played a big part too.