herald

Wednesday 19 June 2019

Who legends play a stormer

"Roger is allergic to smoke and would greatly appreciate if you could stick to brownies."

Good man, Daltrey. Or might that have been Pete Townshend that decided on such a witty pre-concert message? It doesn't matter. The lights are down. Both men are in place, surrounded, as always, by a gang of well-oiled supporting players. The sea swells (so that's what those enormous, circular screens are for), Townshend throws on his shades, and we're off.

Lest we forget, tonight is all about The Who's 1973 rock opera, Quadrophenia. 81 minutes on record, 100 in a live setting. At least, that's how they play it in 2013. And it does go on a bit. Call it a bad day at the seaside; a musical tale of Jimmy and his 'friends' struggling to find The Real Me. Call it an entertaining exercise in prog rock. Whatever you call it, it's a testament to Townshend and Daltrey's skills as both showmen and musicians that they just about manage to paper over the cracks to deliver a storming rendition of one of their most recognised works. With more than a little help from their friends, of course.

Townshend (68) and Daltrey (69) are never far from each other's side, yet both men have different ideas about how to keep an audience entertained.

Stunning

A brilliant guitarist, Townshend still waves that right arm of his around and around, making like a teenager and shaking his behind. Roger – still a phenomenal rock vocalist – prefers to keep it, er, cool, popping his shirt buttons and dancing like your granddad. But in a good way.

The aforementioned screens present a visual history of time in and out of The Who since the British band formed in the mid-Sixties. It's great to watch.

Most effective, though, is a stunning clip of the late John Entwistle on bass during the sublime 5.15. It's one of the finest 'live' moments of the year. The trick is then repeated in tribute to drummer Keith Moon on Bell Boy.

And then there is the curtain call. Townshend acknowledges how tricky it is to get Quadrophenia right. They're still practising. "But the stuff coming up now," he smiles, "we don't need to practise."

Cue an encore that includes Baba O'Riley and the outstanding Pinball Wizard. Wonderful stuff.

4 STARS

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