Boston Globe on Boston

Brian Cady brianinatlanta2001 at
Sat Oct 25 15:16:47 CDT 2008

Rock of ages

The Who
At: TD Banknorth Garden, last night
By Jonathan Perry
Globe Correspondent

With the Who – that most epic of bands – even small moments can seem
majestic. In a strong two-hour show at TD Banknorth Garden last night
that picked up momentum as it progressed, some of the group’s most
meditative, introspective passages were also some of its best.

The sense of elegant calm that resided inside “Amazing Journey” and
“Getting in Tune,” for instance, was striking. “Sea and Sand,” a
questing half-ballad, half-rocker about family dysfunction, was a
potent reminder that for all its legendary Sturm and Drang, the Who
were and are a frequently vulnerable band: guitarist-songwriter Pete
Townshend’s sensitive artistic soul wrapped inside surly singer Roger
Daltrey’s gruff, tough (but since softened) exterior.

The Who is down to two – officially, anyway. The deaths of original
drummer Keith Moon in 1978 and bassist John Entwistle in 2002 have cost
them dearly. But just as they demonstrated here two years ago, Daltrey
and Townshend are still capable of delivering a boom and a bang bigger
than themselves.

It was always about the live spectacle with the Who, and so it was
before a near-capacity crowd of 12,000 last night. They’re far less
staggering a storm now – more a collective of professional companions,
capably delivering a catalog as deep and wide (to paraphrase a lyric
from one of the Who’s anthems) as the band itself once was. But
occasionally – when they brilliantly lit out for the territories of
“Sparks,” for instance – you got a glimpse of the Who as fearsome force
of nature.

Backed by Townshend’s younger brother, Simon, on second guitar,
bassist Pino Palladino, keyboard player John “Rabbit” Bundrick, and
drummer Zak Starkey, the band opened with a clutch of early classics:
the confusion-as-bliss salvo “I Can’t Explain”; a nonchalant version of
“The Seeker”; and the Mod anthem “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere.”

There were fewer tunes from the Who’s perfectly fine 2006 album,
“Endless Wire” – only “Fragments” and the tender encore-closer, “Tea
& Theatre” made an appearance. But that, thankfully, meant more
selections from 1973's classic “Quadrophenia” album: “Sea and Sand”
soared; “5:15" roared; and “Love Reign O’er Me” was an Olympian elegy
built on power chords and yearning.

Now 64, Daltrey, as always, had nowhere to hide when singing his
partner’s towering melodies and sky-high choruses. Although he began
somewhat sluggishly, reaching for the high notes of his youth, his
grizzled voice further burred by the decades, Daltrey grew improbably
stronger with each declaration. By the time “Baba O’Riley” and “Won’t
Get Fooled Again” rolled around, he had hit his stride.

Speaking of youth, Townshend turned the brazen impudence of "My
Generation" back on itself and himself. “Hey kid,” the 63-year-old
guitarist ad-libbed with a smile, “I think I’m far too old for you.”
Despite the song’s infamously stated desire to “die before I get old,”
the far trickier and tougher task -- as the Who have discovered -- was
finding a way to survive and connect. On this night, they met the

 -Brian in Atlanta
The Who This Month!


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