Daily Trojan on Long Beach

Brian Cady brianinatlanta2001 at yahoo.com
Wed Feb 28 04:45:49 PST 2007


Who are you? 
Michael Cooper 
Issue date: 2/28/07 

Awe. Appreciation. Enthusiasm. These emotions usually abound when one sees a band as legendary as The Who. 

Unfortunately, all three were mostly lacking at the band's nearly sold-out show in the Long Beach Arena Monday night. While some blame must fall on the audience for its lack of passion, most lies with The Who themselves, who played too many unfamiliar tunes. 

After fans waited in line far too long in an excruciating will-call experience, the band emerged exactly on time, a rare occurrence in the world of concerts. 

The night began on a fairly high note with "I Can't Explain," but the band quickly turned to material from its latest album, Endless Wire. 

Whatever energy the audience had was rapidly lost. A few older songs such as "Behind Blue Eyes" and "Who Are You" were sprinkled among the profusion of new songs, but even these classics were not enough to renew the crowd's energy. One notable exception was the performance of "Baba O'Riley," which pumped up the otherwise limpid crowd. 

As lead singer and guitarist Roger Daltrey skillfully played his harmonica at the song's conclusion, it felt, for the first time that night, the way a Who concert was supposed to feel. Even guitarist and songwriter Pete Townshend noticed the spike in energy, joking that the song always gets the most applause, despite the fact that it's "not about anything." 

The fervor was lost, however, as the band once more retreated into the boring shell of their most recent songs. The audience sat firmly in their seats with dull, uninterested expressions, often paying more attention to the surprisingly well-made backdrop videos than to the band itself. 

People understand that bands, even ones famous for hits of the '60s and '70s like The Who, will inevitably mix contemporary songs and beloved classics. But a band like The Who should know to pander to an audience hankering for a nostalgic injection of rock music's heyday, and their bland set seemed designed to disappoint. 

Toward the end of the show the entire arena awoke from its daze of boredom for "My Generation" and "Won't Get Fooled Again," vigorously clapping along to the beat of the latter. It was a bit ironic hearing Daltrey sing I hope I die before I get old in "My Generation," but Townshend at least acknowledged the band members' ages by welcoming the younger people in the audience "to this old people's home." 

For their encore, The Who started off with "Naked Eyes," which satisfied only a select few, followed by a medley from "Tommy," which was met with more enthusiasm. The final song of the evening was the slow "Tea and Theatre," also from the band's latest album. 

Noticeably absent from the evening were Who classics such as "5:15," "The Kids Are Alright" or "Bargain," songs that could have raised the energy level to unspeakable heights. Instead, the show ended in the same way it had played out for most of the night: quietly, with a lack of awe, appreciation or enthusiasm. 

-Brian in Atlanta 
The Who This Month! 

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