Guardian review of RAH

L. Bird pkeets at
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 
still menacing?


The Who

Royal Albert Hall, London

Alexis Petridis
Wednesday March 31, 2004
The Guardian

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 
their prime.

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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