Indianapolis Star on Conseco Fieldhouse
brianinatlanta2001 at yahoo.com
Wed Mar 7 12:04:32 CST 2007
The Who draws on the big picture
By David Lindquist
david.lindquist at indystar.com
The Who's entire career seemed to unfold as a seamless concept album Tuesday night at Conseco Fieldhouse.
The rock band is famous for individual works of connected songs ("Tommy," "Quadrophenia"), but this performance created a picture larger than might be reasonably expected for an act 25 years past its first farewell tour.
Songwriter-guitarist Pete Townshend has spent his career examining music and the meaning of life, and the former may be the answer to the latter.
Chronologically, the Who's thesis began with "Real Good Looking Boy," a tribute to Elvis Presley recorded for a 2004 hits compilation.
Vocalist Roger Daltrey introduced the tune by reverently recalling his first exposure to the King of Rock 'n' Roll.
The Who's primary contribution to the 20th century's cultural revolution arrived with a sprawling rendition of "My Generation." As Townshend pursued instrumental tangents and Daltrey danced the dance of a hypnotized raver, video screens cycled through decades of youngsters making their own scenes.
But selections from "Wire & Glass" -- an abbreviated rock opera found within the band's current and lightly regarded "Endless Wire" album -- truly pulled together Townshend's ideas:
"Pick Up the Peace" imagined a trio of young musicians excavating good from the idealistic 60s. The musicians find mainstream rewards during "We Got a Hit," yet they're selfless in their celebration ("We were the carriers"). Fame eventually roughs them up and sharks circle on a video screen, but closing segment "Mirror Door" saluted a legacy that stretches farther back than Presley by mentioning Mozart and Bach.
On the other side of "Wire & Glass," the Who rewarded its encouraging audience of 9,000 with an epic version of "Baba O'Riley."
From Daltrey's scene-setting vocals to Townshend's "teenage wasteland" vocal spotlight to Daltrey's harmonica solo, the tune grew more tremendous at every turn.
At 63, Daltrey remains a singing marvel who combines tenderness and blast-furnace intensity on "Behind Blue Eyes."
Townshend played electric guitar for most of the program, and he gravitated to slashing single-note micro-solos in addition to his esteemed array of monster chords.
The multidimensional efforts of keyboard player John "Rabbit" Bundrick and guitarist Simon Townshend (Pete's younger brother) overshadowed the no-frills playing of drummer Zak Starkey and bassist Pino Palladino.
Starkey and Palladino, of course, fill the roles of late drummer Keith Moon and late bassist John Entwistle.
After botching his "My Generation" solo at Verizon Wireless Music Center in 2002, Palladino at least proved he could nail it at Conseco.
-Brian in Atlanta
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