The Who Rock Perth
brianinatlanta2001 at yahoo.com
Sun Apr 5 11:54:53 UTC 2009
>From The Sunday Times (Perth, Australia):
The Who have still got it after 40 years
April 04, 2009 10:00pm
THE Who's first ever Perth concert - and first Australian tour in over 40 years - had all the makings of a nostalgia fest.Merchandise featured images of the band as young men or let logos replace their faces altogether - and the setlist showed that Pete Townshend stopped giving his best material to The Who a long time ago. But in the two hours plus the band was on stage at Members Equity Stadium, they showed you can embrace a generation’s collective past with dignity, grace and power.
Even with a winning setlist that included such classics as Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere, Substitute, Pinball Wizard, The Kids Are Alright and Who Are You? it rarely looked easy. More than any other of the super successful bands of the ’60s, The Who’s music was filled with testosterone. It not only swaggered and strutted but it yelled and threatened. From Townshend’s trademark windmill routine, through the thrashing of Keith Moon’s drums – the role now taken with great skill by Zak ‘Son Of Ringo’ Starkey – this was a very physical music.
Along with the Starkey, the sound was filled out by Simon Townshend on guitar, Rabbit Bundrick on keys and Pino Palladino on bass. They re-created the songs in a fashion where they were at once recognisable in relation to their studio versions. Still the focus was never going to be on the hired hands, but rather on the remaining principles Townshend and Roger Daltrey, both now in their mid-60s.
Keeping it relevant in 2009 meant that there were important elements that needed to be true. That they can still sing My Generation with a straight face speaks volumes for the power of the tune. But it took a detour when Townshend repeatedly growled “My generation – we f**ked it up, you fix it.” He sounded like an old man who realised the baton had been passed and his place in the world had changed. The sweetness of his voice had disappeared and if the new approach was a little tougher on the ears, it was without doubt his true voice. The old bugger still had plenty of spirit though, as shown when he announced that no amount of requests would get them playing Magic Bus.
And if indeed it was only rock and roll how great it was to be in the presence of true masters as they slaughtered their songbook. They opened with their first single (as The Who)I Can’t Explain and finished with Tea & Theatre from their 2006 album Endless Wire. In between came a selection of genius. Who’s Next brought forth Baba O’Riley, Behind Blue Eyes (dedicated to Moon who passed away in 1978) and Won’t Get Fooled Again; Quadrophenia was represented by 5:15 and Love Reign O’er Me and Tommy was reduced to a blistering 15-minute medley in the encore, which ended predictably in a crowd sing along on See Me Feel Me/Listening To You.
Momentum was lost at a couple with Sister Disco, Fragments and worst of all, Eminence Front, from 1982’sIt’s Hard, the album where it seemed both band and audience had had enough. It was as if they placed such songs in the set to resist being a hits and memories jukebox, but surely there are much better album tracks in the catalogue.
These moments were few though, as the set built steadily to the climax of Won’t Get Fooled Again, where the sporting ground rippled with anticipation to see if Daltrey, who had sounded a touch hoarse at times, would tackle the most famous scream in rock history. Of course he nailed it and in doing so provided the evening’s absolute highlight.
Before leaving the stage for the last time, Townshend apologised once again for ignoring Australia in the past. Like every other word he had uttered it appeared to come from the heart. It was one of the few signs of sentimentality on show all night.
-Brian in Atlanta
The Who This Month!
More information about the TheWho