Hollywood Reporter on MSG
brianinatlanta2001 at yahoo.com
Tue May 25 05:58:37 CDT 2004
Concert Review: the Who
Mon May 24, 2004 07:34 PM ET
By Frank Scheck
NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - The most striking
aspect about this performance by the Who, or at least
surviving members Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, is
how much the latter actually seemed to enjoy being
For the past two decades, the guitarist-songwriter has
made no secret of his disdain for getting up onstage
with his former partner and rehashing his past hits.
But now, for whatever reason -- nostalgia, age, money
-- Townshend seems to be relishing his identity as a
The result is that the performance resonated with a
relaxed joyfulness that hasn't always been the case in
the band's many reunions over the years. Clearly
appreciative of the audience's support -- at one point
he thanked them for selling out the show in a mere 20
minutes -- Townshend, beginning with a trademark
windmill power chord to start off "I Can't Explain,"
performed with a ferocity that demonstrated that he
had something to prove.
Performing behind "The Who -- Then & Now," the latest
in an endless series of hits compilations but the
first to feature new material, the band again features
the lineup from the last, post-Entwistle tour: Zak
Starkey on drums, Pino Palladino on bass, Simon
Townshend on guitar and longtime member John "Rabbit"
Bundrick on keyboards.
The hit-laden show differed little from those in
recent years, but with a song catalog this brilliant
and iconic, that's not much of a problem. While the
magical instrumental chemistry that was the hallmark
of the original band is now necessarily gone, the
music still comes through with incredible power,
thanks to Daltrey's little-changed vocalizing ability
and Townshend's fiercely passionate guitar playing. A
song like the venerable "Who Are You," which now
mainly brings to mind the Las Vegas landscape thanks
to a certain hit television series, was delivered with
such force that it seemed to eclipse any previous
renditions. Equally impressive were the performances
of such classics as "Substitute," "Baba O'Riley,"
"Love Reign O'er Me" and "Won't Get Fooled Again."
While most of the numbers conformed to the brilliant
original arrangements, several of the songs were
allowed to breathe. Townshend brought a new urgency to
"Eminence Front" with his clipped phrasing and angular
guitar leads; "My Generation" was enhanced with long,
bluesy interludes; and the encore of a medley from
"Tommy" and "Magic Bus" was elongated to Grateful Dead
proportions. It was during the encore that Daltrey
uncharacteristically lost control of his trademark
whirling microphone and beaned an unfortunate audience
member, who apparently felt no ill effects.
With the spotlights remaining firmly fixed on the two
frontmen, there was no doubt that this was more of a
duo than a band performance. Indeed, it might be an
appropriate gesture if the remaining pair, like their
contemporaries Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, retired
their band name for good. Not so the music, however,
which even decades later still resonates with a
timeless vitality and urgency. And the performance at
this show of one of the new songs, the Elvis-inspired
"Real Good Looking Boy," demonstrates that there may
still be more great music to come.
© Reuters 2004. All Rights Reserved.
-Brian in Atlanta
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