"Keep calm and listen to the feckin Who." That's what the big-screen message reads, folks. "Seems like yesterday we were here," announces a silver-haired Roger Daltrey behind a pair of spiffy shades. "Two years!" adds Pete Townshend, fixing up his Fender Strat. "Where'd that go?"
How about 50, then, boys? After all, this is it, innit? This may well be The Who's final appearance in Dublin. Well, the party can't go on forever, and in a week where Daltrey and Townshend also find themselves at the right end of a Glastonbury bill, The Who seem determined to go out on a high. Drummer Zak Starkey rolls it up behind his glass case, with Roger tossing his microphone wire and Pete initiating the first of several iconic windmill strums. In other words, we're off.
The lads and their capable supporting players traipsing down a muscular, marathon rock 'n' roll path under a visually stunning backdrop (all the best photos and videos of yesteryear, basically).
There are moments on tour, declares Daltrey (still flashing a bronzed chest at 71), where he and Townshend (70) touch down, unsure of their surroundings. "But you never not know when you're in Dublin," he smiles. As it turns out, he spent the night before in Skerries ("a wonderful drinking village with a really bad fishing problem").
Shoulders hunched, eyes shut tight, Daltrey - looking like a man midway through a frightful sneeze - almost bursts an artery up there. That seasoned howl of his has held up. Sure, Behind Blue Eyes is a bit wobbly, but Love, Reign o'er Me is simply outstanding. Fret-master Townshend is in awesome form, too, even if he does get a little grumpy throughout (the man wants some f***ing air conditioning, pronto).
It wouldn't be a Who gig without the odd flash of conceptual madness (A Quick One, While He's Away), but we'd sit through anything to get to the remarkable Baba O'Riley (still boasting one of the best intros in rock) and Pinball Wizard (likewise). The most solid rock 'n' roll show in the world? It's up there. We might yet get one more round out of them... HHHHI