Telegraph on IOW
brianinatlanta2001 at yahoo.com
Mon Jun 14 08:39:40 CDT 2004
>From the Telegraph (UK) at:
Sheer genius of the Who
Richard Wolfson review the Who at the Isle of Wight
Clapped out, over the hill, past it, out of touch,
devoid of energy, a bunch of wrinkly has-beens? Not
the Who. They may be well into late middle age, but
for a couple of hours on the Isle of Wight stage, the
scene of their historic instrument-smashing triumph in
1970, they delivered a masterclass in mind-crushingly
intense, but also wonderfully subtle power rock.
It's not exactly a disadvantage to be able to draw on
a back catalogue that includes classic songs such as
My Generation, Who Are You and Pinball Wizard. But to
deliver them with an urgent intensity, rather than as
some dinosaur-rock self-parodying tribute band (a
horrible trap for artists of this vintage), was
Daltrey and Pete Townshend, the two surviving members
after the deaths of drummer Keith Moon back in 1978,
and bassist John Entwistle in 2002, have assembled a
knockout band, capturing the energy of the original
outfit. Daltrey, dressed in trademark paisley shirt,
twirled the microphone lead nonchalantly around his
head as the black-clad Townshend hovered over his
guitar like a vulture, occasionally unleashing those
windmill-arm power chords. Both seemed completely
relaxed on stage, and, unlike more posy rock artists,
their stage act is based more on what's necessary to
produce the energy of the music, rather than being a
desperate act of narcissistic preening.
Banter flowed freely. To cheers, Townshend mentioned
that the police had counted 650,000 people attending
the 1970 festival: "They're still looking for 50,000
of them, Pete," quipped Daltrey. "I bet you all want
to go to Glastonbury to see Paul McCartney sing Mary
Had a Little Lamb," Daltrey remarked later.
The instrumental sound the Who produce is incredible;
the combination of power and space, the machine-gun
perfect timing, the forays into more gentle complex
harmonies. When Townshend picked up an acoustic guitar
for a solo song from Quadrophenia, his control of the
instrument, from delicate picking to precise
strumming, suggested that he could have had an
alternative career as a folk-based acoustic artist.
Daltrey's vocals remained accurate and controlled
throughout (after two hours he declared himself
The day before, Super Furry Animals, Groove Armada and
the Stereophonics had cruised through their sets
pleasantly enough. On Saturday, Steve Harley invited
the entire audience to sing Make Me Smile (Come Up and
See Me), which they did, and Jet and The Manic Street
Preachers did everything you might expect from a gutsy
Aussie rock band and a moodily intense Welsh pop act.
Perhaps the most exciting and violent moment of the
afternoon came with the intriguing new band British
Sea Power, who manage to fuse a New Order-like
maturity and intensity with anarchic madness; they
ended their set by attacking a nine-foot gorilla with
a plastic Pelican.
But, remarkably, no other act came close to the youth,
energy, clarity, and sheer genius of the Who. They
just don't make them like that any more.
-Brian in Atlanta
The Who This Month!
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