Guardian review of RAH
pkeets at hotmail.com
Sat Jun 26 00:35:28 CDT 2004
Maybe I wasn't keeping up well, but I don't recall seeing this review of RAH
posted. There's a link to it from Brian's latest posting. Little does
Alexis know that there's still plenty of unpredictibility there. It's
another of The Who's strong point.
What about the menace? Does anybody have an opinion on that? Are they
Royal Albert Hall, London
Wednesday March 31, 2004
Rock opera. Is there a phrase in popular music more likely to bring about a
total collapse of the will to live? Probably not - it seems so redolent of
pomposity and excess - so tonight's concert counts as a narrow squeak. It
was initially billed as a complete acoustic performance of the original 1969
rock opera Tommy - a plan the Who have abandoned, instead playing the
album's highlights as an encore. No one in the audience looks particularly
distraught at this turn of events.
For their main set, the Who play the singles that made them famous: I Can't
Explain; Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere; Substitute. They lunge belligerently
forth, a series of sudden, sharp impacts that do not appear to be blunted by
the cold that turns Roger Daltrey's voice into a bark, nor by the absence of
Keith Moon's unique percussive whirlwind, nor indeed by the presence of Pino
Paladino, the characterless session musician's characterless session
musician, in place of the late bassist John Entwistle.
Neither of the band's surviving members look particularly like rock legends
- in full flight, Daltrey most closely resembles a man confronting a
neighbour about branches overhanging into his Essex garden, while
Townshend's dark suit, cropped hair and jowly features make him look like
Will Self's dissolute great uncle - but their appearance makes their
performance all the more surprising. Daltrey attempts to play two
tambourines and ends up smashing them both. Townshend runs to the front of
the stage, jabs his guitar violently at the audience and windmills his arm
in time-honoured style. It should look ridiculous. Instead, it's a thrilling
reminder of the unpredictability and menace that underpinned the Who in
Up in the balcony, a man rips off his shirt and begins miming the drums,
while in the stalls, an entire family are frantically pogoing in unison. The
Who, it seems, still have the power to move an audience in ways far beyond
the standard reverence afforded heritage rock acts.
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