Monday 23rd March 2015
O2 Arena, London
Just under forty one years after their iconic Charlton gig in 1974 The Who returned to South East London again on Monday night for ‘The Who Hits 50’ gig - albeit two legends down - but still firing on all cylinders. Of course the line "Hope I Die Before I Get Old" has come back to bite them on the bum over the year's - but 'Who' gives a s**t? Rumoured to be their last ever tour, it was not surprising when talking to a few young and old faces before the gig that there were a few Who virgins present. For them it must have felt like one of those compilation albums and how on earth were they going to fit fifty years into a two-hour set?
Appropriately ‘I Can’t Explain’ circa ’64 kicked things off and the banter was warming up quite nicely after a slight mess up by Roger on the intro of Substitute. But ‘Who’ cared? Following ‘The Seeker’, Daltrey also took a pop at the powers that be for doing two nights in a row! Early doors and Daltrey was in good form with no sign of the illness that made them postpone the original gig. And Townshend was err… Townshend – jaw-dropping guitar - jaw-dropping energy - jaw-dropping banter! Stick the two of them together and you have an edge unparalleled despite a combined age of 140 years!
Then it was off to the late seventies with the powerful ‘Who Are You’ – the night’s most boring stat being that this was the youngest song in the set! The classic ‘I Can See For Miles’ was sandwiched in between ‘The Kids Are Alright’ and ‘Pictures Of Lily’ before we came to the aforementioned iconic ‘My Generation’. It wasn’t chronological but the set list mix was spot on - complemented by the amazing backdrops (check out our photo gallery) plus of course Zak Starkey stepping into the size nine sticks of Keith Moon plus Pino Palladino, with credentials as long as your Bass guitar, taking over from the much missed John Entwhistle. We were then driven back to the late 60’s with ‘Magic Bus’ and before we entered the realm of concept albums – it was the delightful ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ followed by ‘Join Together’ and ‘You Better You Bet’.
When we saw The Who perform Quadrophenia in July 2013 – the impressive Simon Townshend certainly put a shift in – not only on guitar but also helping Daltrey with lead vocals. No problems with Daltrey’s vocals tonight, although Simon is still an integral part of his brother’s band as are Loren Gold, Frank Simes and John Corey on keyboards/percussion. Back to Quadrophenia, and yes I know I’m biased, but just two songs?
Anyway, Townshend’s performance of ‘I’m One’ was brilliant but Daltrey’s vocals on ‘Love, Reign, O’er Me’ brought a tear to my eye for all the right reasons. The inclusion of the less popular ‘Eminence Front’, ‘So Sad About Us’ and ‘A Quick One’ was a surprise, however this is the perfect launch pad for a bit of ‘Tommy’ and we’re on that ‘Amazing Journey’ of ‘Pinball Wizard’ (have a look at today’s VOTD where Daltrey has another bit of a mare), ‘Sparks’ and the moving ‘See Me Feel Me’. Awesome. The evening is then complete with both ‘Baba O’Riley’ and ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ which brings back memories of the very first time I saw The Who along with cutting edge lasers firing across The Valley.
No encore’s – but hey – these two OAP’s deserved a rest! The show was certainly not faultless but what a great time we all had. Warning: If you have never seen The Who live - then make sure you see them either at the Albert Hall tomorrow or Hyde Park in June (we will be there) - otherwise you will never forgive yourself! Just ask tonight’s virgins!