Honolulu Advertiser review

Brian Cady brianinatlanta2001 at yahoo.com
Thu Aug 5 06:43:23 CDT 2004

On line at:

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

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 Arena audience. 

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 sated, pal. 

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 Blaisdell crowd. 

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

-Brian in Atlanta
The Who This Month!

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