O.C. Register HB review

Dennis Crow out_of_control at earthlink.net
Mon Aug 16 22:01:43 CDT 2004

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I'm not sure I saw this posted previously, apparently the L.A. Times
bother to review the show.  HB was one of my favorite shows of the 15 I
have seen since 1979

Special to the Register 

The prevailing opinion about the Who goes something like this: The band
should have ceased performing long ago and is touring only to milk the
cash cow again. Those naysayers probably haven't seen the veteran
British group live in recent years. Sure, original drummer Keith Moon
and bassist John Entwistle are both dead, and there have been numerous
reunion tours. But Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend shouldn't add the
final nail to the Who coffin just yet. 

When musicians put on a galvanizing concert like the Who did Monday
night, there's no reason to stop. Especially when guitarist Townshend,
59, rips off solos like an electric current is coursing through his
body. Sporting blue-tinted glasses, singer Roger Daltrey, 60, was in
good gruff vocal form before a near-capacity Hollywood Bowl crowd.
Whenever he did his trademark microphone cord lasso and Townshend
engaged in some guitar windmills, it was two classic rock forces of
nature at work. 

Drummer Zak Starkey (Ringo Starr's son), who has toured with the Who
since 1996, provided an exceptional and often explosive backbeat
throughout the evening. Bassist Pino Palladino, rhythm guitarist/backing
vocalist Simon Townshend and longtime keyboardist John "Rabbit" Bundrick
rounded out the personnel.

Though the Who is touring to support "Then and Now," a 40th-anniversary
career retrospective featuring two new studio tracks, a little more
set-list variety would've elevated the concert (14 of the 18 songs
played were repeated from a Verizon Amphitheater show in September 2002;
10 were in the same order). 

But those are minor complaints. 

Townshend struck a jagged electric guitar rhythm to launch the
110-minute gig with "I Can't Explain," the Who's first U.K. hit single.
He pounded the strings with a vengeance on "Anyway Anyhow Anywhere," as
Starkey pummeled his kit. Bundrick triggered the whirling sounds on
"Baba O'Riley" and the crowd intensity level increased (even more so
when Daltrey did his harmonica solo). 

One of the evening's surprising highlights was "Real Good Looking Boy."
The wistful new mid-tempo tune - loosely based on Townshend's teenage
insecurities and Daltrey aspiring to be like the young Elvis -
incorporates music and verse from "Can't Help Falling in Love." Bundrick
did some beautiful piano work here. 

Always a barnburner, "Who Are You," didn't disappoint, especially when
Townshend hunched over to do some slashing guitar work. Later, he'd
prove equally compelling with bluegrass-style picking for a solo
acoustic turn on "Drowned" from "Quadrophenia." The crashing sonic waves
during "Love Reign O'er Me" were dynamic as ever; somehow Daltrey still
nails that roar. 

Before a raucous "You Better, You Bet," Townshend mentioned that the
last time the band played the Bowl was four days after Entwistle's death
in June 2002. He thanked fans for helping them through a difficult time.
"We all miss John, but this is a different era." A tender, extended
version of "The Kids Are Alright" was dedicated to audience member Eddie
Vedder, whose wife just had a baby. Daltrey and Townshend both did
ad-lib vocal bits. Daltrey simply sang, "We are in the Who. That'll do.
We'll survive." Indeed.

The supercharged "My Generation" turned into a bluesy excursion, then
segued into the new tribute to Entwistle, "Old Red Wine." Even "Won't
Get Fooled Again" merged into slinky John Lee Hooker territory. Come
encore time, the Who delved into a "Tommy" suite, with "Amazing
Journey/Sparks" featuring a wicked, psychedelic jam. 

Some Who enthusiasts traveled across the country and shelled out several
hundred dollars to attend. They definitely got their money's worth. 


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