Men in their 70s who still hope they die before they get old
“We stopped playing this song in 1969…. I thought I was too old”.
So says Pete Townshend by way of introduction to “My Generation” and those words are kind of tonight’s summation.
In 2013 they were here to play “Quadrophenia” and some Greatest Hits to celebrate turning 50. They’ve been back since, but tonight is a similar format and sees some classics wrapped either side of what amounts to an abridged version of “Tommy”.
The first five are essentially The Who saying “yeah, we are one of the most iconic rock bands in history, we know.” “The Seeker”, “I Can’t Explain” “Who Are You” which still seems dangerous even though the two surviving members of the band are in their 70s.
And given that status – and let’s be honest – the ages of Daltrey and Townshend – we can forgive a missed note here and then in the vocals (the actual musicianship is flawless) on “I Can See For Miles” and if the premise of “My Generation” is ludicrous in 2017, it is still a great song – even if it is spoiled a little with a jam here.
There’s a raucous “Join Together” before the “Tommy” section. Now, in fairness it might have been where MV was sitting, but there is a lull here, certainly in terms of atmosphere and things only pick up again when they get to “Pinball Wizard.”
After this there’s three from “Quadrophenia”. Townshend’s voice has gone by the time he gets to sing the folky “I’m One” but the audio-visuals of “The Rock” and the sheer power of “Love Reign O’er Me” cannot be denied and these are highlights.
To their eternal credit the Who don’t do the whole walking off stage to walk back on bullshit (there’s probably too many of them – there’s a veritable cast of thousands here, the likes of which haven’t been seen at rock gig since The Eagles were up the road at the NEC a few years back) what they do instead is stop on and casually knock out “Baba O’Reilly” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” as if reminding everyone that even if there’s only two of them these days from the original band, they are The Who.
After this and before they close the show, Townshend casually points out that he’s never particularly enjoyed performing live. He’s done it for over 50 years mind you, and you can bet you haven’t seen the last of him doing it either. There’s simply too much history here for him – or the band he still was born to play in – to end it. It’s Who they are.