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Wed Aug 4 15:11:15 CDT 2004
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Posted on: Wednesday, August 4, 2004
The Who stage a no-frills show
By Derek Paiva
Advertiser Entertainment Writer
If one can still rock at age 60, why the heck not rock?
Roger Daltrey, left, and Pete Townshend of The Who performed in Mansfield,
Mass., in May. They performed last night at the Blaisdell Center and will be
playing tonight at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center.
That's the question The Who or what remains of it in vocalist Roger
Daltrey and guitarist Pete Townshend begged and answered last night at an
outstanding, if spontaneity-free, two-hour show for a near-sellout Blaisdell
Cynics may argue and rightfully so that The Who can't possibly be The
Who anymore without the primal drumming of Keith Moon and towering bass
presence of John Entwistle. But from start to finish, Daltrey, Townshend and
an accomplished crew of side players gave it their best working-class Union
Jack-waving go of it.
The Who's stage was a surprisingly no-frills affair, devoid of lasers,
special effects, elaborate lighting rigs or even video effects. The message?
The music and musicianship should still be potent enough to send you home
And bless 'em, Daltrey and Townshend delivered what amounted to an
altogether satisfying tour through The Who's monumental catalogue of past
glories with near-zero filler.
Opening, appropriately enough, with their 1964 debut "I Can't Explain,"
Daltrey and Townshend arrived on stage looking as fit, energetic and scrappy
as no senior-aged millionaire rock gods had any right being.
Clad from head-to-toe in black, with worn sneaks and a killer blue-eyed
glare, Townshend, in particular, looked ready to kick the posterior of
anyone bold enough to call him retirement ready.
The first of Townshend's signature guitar windmills arrived two minutes into
the song, with Daltrey's first signature microphone swing besting it by
exactly one minute, 58 seconds.
Early career Who faves "Substitute" and "Anyway Anyhow Anywhere" followed.
By trio's end, all it took was the synth opening of "Baba O'Riley" to
generate ear-shattering approval from the Boomer-heavy, herbally enhanced
Daltrey decked casually in a loose button-down shirt, tight faded jeans
and teal wire-rim shades possessed a vox still capable of stunning range
and speaker-decimating punch. His best moments in a mid-show run of hits
included "O'Riley," "Who Are You" and "Love Reign O'er Me."
On a sour note, a powerhouse medley of "My Generation" and the Entwistle
tribute "Old Red Wine" finally motivated grown adults in the back seats
who really should've known better to beat down woefully understaffed floor
security in a mad rush toward the stage. The far younger crowd at 50 Cent
knew how to treat its own better.
Townshend's rigorously inventive and polished guitar playing offered moments
of wonderful-to-watch brilliance, comparable and perhaps better than
anything out of his ax-smashing youth. He was, at all times, simply amazing.
A set-closing "Won't Get Fooled Again" had Townshend nearly fist-pounding
his ax into woodchips and showing off his closetful of guitar-god poses,
including a couple of well-planned concluding leaps.
Daltrey, for his part, wasn't capable of carrying off the song's required
waking-up-the-dead screams and wisely opted out of trying.
Offering fluid backup for the duo throughout were longtime Who keyboardist
John "Rabbit" Bundrick (solid synths on "O'Riley" and "Who Are You"),
bassist Pino Palladino (channeling Entwistle's sublime power) and rhythm
guitarist Simon Townshend (Pete's able, if subdued, bro).
The most impressive of The Who's substitutes, drummer Zak Starkey matched
and challenged Townshend's potent ax-grinding on his own terms, wisely
avoiding any hint of Moon-lighting.
The evening ended with a suite of songs from "Tommy" that, while sweet,
couldn't help come off a tad lackluster after the raucous warhorses that
preceded it. An amazing rendition of "Amazing Journey/Sparks," however, was
a highlight here.
A good deal of Daltrey's and Townshend's on-stage bravado after four decades
of playing live together might be as one armchair critic near me suggested
Who-by-the-numbers for the duo.
But we'd all be fortunate, indeed, if all rock legends carried off the
familiar with as much real good-looking panache as The Who still does.
Reach Derek Paiva at dpaiva at honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8005.
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