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The Who released their first album 55 years ago. Their raw power, exquisite songwriting and larger-than-life stage presence made them one of the most influential bands of modern music. The vibe of legend was everywhere at Blossom last night as Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend were joined by a half a dozen band members and a stage full of locally sourced orchestral players for a 22-song set that relied heavily on the rock operas Tommy and Quadrophenia.
You can see a slideshow of photos from the concert here.
Tommy tunes set the pace for a history lesson of music that defined a generation. The frantic frenzy of “Pinball Wizard” had the crowd at a fever pitch with windmills on and everywhere off stage and an outpouring of love that could only be elicited by a handful of songs in all of music. A phenomenal rendition of “Sparks” gave the super fans a deep cut that they always crave. “We’re Not Going To Take It” closed the half a dozen songs from Tommy and set the bar extremely high for the rest of the performance.
The timeless classics “Who Are You” and “Eminence Front” kept up the pace and kept the crowd on its feet. After a few more songs, Townshend sang the praises of the orchestra, and they left the stage for a short break.
The eight-piece band tore through “Substitute,” “I Can See for Miles,” “You Better You Bet” and “Behind Blue Eyes,” proving that Daltrey and Townshend are still in fine form and a force to be reckoned with. Their six-piece band consisted of Zak Starkey, son of Beatles drummer Ringo Starr on the drums. Starkey received a drum set as a gift from the late great Keith Moon, setting him on a path that would eventually lead him into Moon’s chair in the mid-’90s. Townshend’s younger brother Simon provided stellar guitar and vocal work and almost made it seem like there were two Pete Townshends on stage. His playing and vocals added much into the mix.
A definite highlight of the evening was an acoustic version of “Won’t Get Fooled Again” that found Daltrey and Townshend locked in to each other and simply excelling. They took the song heard on the radio a million times and transformed it into a fresh and emotive rendition that the crowd absolutely loved. The local orchestra returned to the stage to begin the Quadrophenia portion of the evening.
The set opened with “Guantanamo,” a song from Townshend’s 2015 album Truancy. The song and lyrics were very fitting given that yesterday was the day before Sept. 11, the tragedy that took place 18 years ago.
The band slammed into “The Real Me” and continued through a set of Quadrophenia classics that included “5:15” and “Love Reign O’er Me.” Fans who had been filling the air with an almost unprecedented amount of energy outpoured exponentially for the concluding bombast of “Baba O’Riley.” Violinist Katie Jacoby, who is touring with the band, soared during the ending violin solo, sending the audience over the top and ending the show perfectly. Patrons left the show out of breath, drained by the energy and excitement of the performance.
Daltrey put on a powerful and incredibly spot on performance. He only appeared to struggle a few times. His vocals were awe inspiring given that he’s a 75-year-old man who laid down his first Who vocal tracks in 1965. Townshend also appeared to have not lost much in the playing department. Despite their combined ages of a century and a half, they were animated, charismatic, dynamic and damn impressive. Some of the material was tuned down a bit, but Daltrey hit high notes almost always with ease, his power holding the notes. His charismatic and energetic stage presence was massively impressive.
Peter Wolf opened the show to an audience that was there to gush for the Who. They were not ready, in the heat, to give too much to Wolf and his set of mostly watered down J Geils tunes. Things were elevated at the end as Wolf played “Love Stinks” and “Musta Got Lost,” but without the harmonica magic of Magic Dick and the late Geils on guitar, the rest of the set fell flat in its delivery and acceptance….