Variety review of The Bowl

Brian Cady brianinatlanta2001 at
Wed Aug 11 06:43:59 CDT 2004

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The Who

Tue Aug 10, 6:23 PM ET  

Richard S. Ginell, STAFF 

Hollywood Bowl; 17,376 seats; $254.50 top 
Presented by Andrew Hewitt and Bill Silva Presents.
Reviewed Aug. 9, 2004. 

Band: Pete Townshend (news), Roger Daltrey (news), Zak
Starkey (news), Simon Townshend (news), Pino
Palladino, John "Rabbit" Bundrick (news). 

With half of the founding members now dead, the
repertoire from two to four decades old and economics
seemingly a driving motivation, one wondered if the
Who has any kind of meaningful future as a performing
band. The answer came slowly but inexorably Monday
night -- and the news is as affirmative as the sound
of Pete Townshend's music. This is still one of the
world's great rock bands -- and as long as Townshend
and his best interpreter, Roger Daltrey, are around to
front it, the potential for future greatness remains. 

The Bowl concert was the last stop on a short tour
that has taken the Who to Japan, Australia, Hawaii and
the West Coast -- and at first, one could forgive them
for sounding just a bit weary. They went through the
motions of early anthems like "I Can't Explain" and
"Substitute," "Who's Next" staples "Baba O'Riley" and
"Behind Blue Eyes" and "Who Are You" -- the band's
big, majestic sound held back by a square rhythmic

Townshend still cranks up his pinwheeling right arm,
though the old flying leaps are gone, and the
bespectacled Daltrey still does his lariat act with
the mike now and then. But that's nostalgia for the
consumption of the fans who sang along with almost
every oldie, not signs of artistic vitality. 

Yet gradually, the music came to life in a series of
three excerpts from "Quadrophenia," initiated by a
moving demolike solo spot for Townshend and his
acoustic guitar ("Drowned") and crowned by a fine
"Love, Reign O'er Me." 

Mechanistic post-Keith Moon numbers like "Eminence
Front" and "You Better, You Bet" seemed to ignite a
fire under Zak Starkey, the Who's now-resident
drummer, and his work grew more insistent and
explosive with every succeeding tune, while bassist
Pino Palladino was a capable if inconspicuous
replacement for the late John Entwistle. By the time
the six-piece band got to "Won't Get Fooled Again,"
all were in high gear, and the concluding suite from
"Tommy" had plenty of the old dynamism to spare. 

The most encouraging thing about this show, though,
was the willingness of Townshend and Daltrey to expand
the scope of the act beyond that of a mere oldies
band. The latest Who release "Then and Now" (Geffen)
is not just another retread of the same old hits
thanks to the inclusion of two newly recorded Who
tracks -- and the band trotted out one of them, "Real
Good Looking Boy." 

A tribute to Elvis Presley, it's a fairly modest tune,
and it got only a tepid response, but at least it
shows that Townshend is thinking creatively in terms
of the Who again for the first time in more than two

Even more interesting were the variations on the
well-worn "The Kids Are Alright," which now has new,
reflective added lyrics from the other side of the
generation gap over an attractive vamp. 

"Won't Get Fooled Again" now has a post-script,
segueing into a boogie jam where Townshend urges us
pointedly, " Don't Get Fooled Again." 

In a gracious gesture, Daltrey thanked the fans for
their support at the band's 2002 Bowl date only four
days after Entwistle's death. But Townshend added,
"This is another era," and at the close of the show,
he made a point of saying, "We'll be back soon."

-Brian in Atlanta
The Who This Month!

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