There was a time when The Who was known for crazy stage sets- for smashing equipment, kicking over amps, breaking drum kits, explosions, pyrotechnics.
Recently that hasn’t been the case, as both Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend are in their late 60′s. So again, that’s my parent’s generation. Now we’re talking about my generation.
The lack of exploding drum kits was perhaps the biggest disappointment of the night. The Who dropped a riveting performance, telling the decades old drama of a schizophrenic in the midst of mods and rockers without feeling the slightest bit like a tour for boredom’s sake.
Sunday night’s sold out concert at Mohegan Sun was the last show on the Quadrophenia + More tour in 2012. Original members Daltrey and Townshend were joined by drummer Zak Starkey (son of the Beatles’ Ringo Starr), bassist Pino Palladino, guitarist Simon Townshend (Pete’s brother), and several keyboardists and backing instrumentalists.
The group plowed through their 1973 rock opera, with Pete Townshend and company soaring from the epic introduction of the title track to the melodrama of ‘Sea and Sand,’ and finally the intense conclusion of ‘Love Reign O’er Me.’
If Roger Daltrey’s voice is feeling the slight pangs of time, it could be considered within expected wear and tear. He didn’t sound to suffer or strain, even bringing power to his trademark scream at the end of ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again.’
Simon Townshend filled in for deceased bassist John Entwistle’s vocal parts, though a recording of one of his extended bass solos played in homage at the end of 5:15. Original drummer Keith Moon also made a video cameo, on archival footage for his vocal part during ‘Bell Boy.’
After topping off Quadrophenia, The Who played some of their best known hits. Pinball Wizard’s video backdrop was full of bumper bonuses and multi-ball ramps, while the instantly recognizable arpeggio of Baba O’Riley was greeted with cheers.
To close the evening, Daltrey and Townshend stood alone on stage to play Tea & Theatre, a somewhat morose song from their most recent album. Daltrey held a cup emblazoned with the British flag while Townshend strummed away on an acoustic guitar.
In February 2013 the tour returns to the region, coming as close as Manchester, New Hampshire, and Providence, RI. Any tickets to The Who’s cancelled 1979 concert will be honored… but just a heads up, they don’t destroy their guitars anymore.