Sydney Morning Herald on Acer

Brian Cady brianinatlanta2001 at
Thu Apr 2 16:57:34 UTC 2009
That deaf pair of old gits sure leaves the crowd enthralled
Reviewed by George Palathingal 
April 3, 2009

Acer Arena, March 31
WE'VE been here before. That is, seeing a band long past its recorded prime in a large venue they're no longer popular enough to sell out - curtains obscuring entire sections of unsold seats attest to that.

It's not as if this even is that once-great band; sure, the Who have been playing for years without long-deceased drumming powerhouse Keith Moon, but when bassist John "the Ox" Entwistle died in 2002, the Brit rock giants' light dimmed almost to blackness.

Yet to say "all that's left" of the Who is a still-buff singer with an aptly beefy bellow (Roger Daltrey) and a mostly bald, hearing-impaired guitarist (Pete Townshend) quickly proves to be an understatement. The duo walk onstage with their current line-up without fanfare, pick up their weapons of choice and, thanks to one of the fastest-acting axe riffs ever, tear into I Can't Explain.

Townshend is the star at that scintillating first moment and pretty much for the rest of the gig, and not just for his constantly thrilling guitar playing and windmilling right arm. Between songs he plays to the whingeing-Pom persona with entertaining wit; Daltrey doesn't get a single (spoken) word in as Townshend banters with the crowd, explains songs' contexts and drily acknowledges no one's going to buy the Who's sole studio album of the past 27 years (2006's Endless Wire) before playing a fairly decent track from it, anyway.

Then again, how is anything new going to match the swaggering grooves of The Seeker or Relay? To iconic, still-electrifying singles such as Pinball Wizard and My Generation? (For those curious, Daltrey roars the latter's line "hope I die before I get old" without even flinching.) To the brilliantly dramatic Baba O'Riley, with synth lines the Presets probably wished they'd written, or the rabble-rousing, hackle-raising Won't Get Fooled Again?

This line-up is prone to strange flights of fancy - even Baba O'Riley and My Generation evolve into jams that take the songs to places you wished they hadn't gone, while a lengthy Tommy medley induces the occasional yawn.
The rest of the time the Who sound as exciting as most young bands out there. The kids may be all right but, on this evidence, they shouldn't underestimate the oldies.

 -Brian in Atlanta
The Who This Month! 


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