on The Who in Auckland

Brian Cady brianinatlanta2001 at
Sun Mar 22 13:25:33 UTC 2009

[comes with slideshow]

What a show. Even the stars came out to witness The Who perform at North Harbour Stadium after an absence of four decades. Reviewer Tracey Bond and photographer Shane Wenzlick were there.

From the opening chords ofI Can't Explain Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend displayed a level of showmanship and energy that singers and musicians half their age can't muster.

Daltry took to the stage dressed in his trademark white shirt, waistcoat and necktie; Townshend in a checked flannel shirt, hat and sunglasses.

It didn't take long before the band were showcasing their signature moves - Daltrey whirling his microphone around the stage and Townshend thrashing the living daylights out of his guitar.

A massive LCD backdrop featured electrifying visuals of still images and moving pictures.

On Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere Townshend's windmilling was accompanied by images of the union jack, and pictures of the band in their younger years.

And the packed stadium lapped up every single chord. Who Are You brought appreciative whoops, but even silence was met with cheers.

There were occasional long pauses between set ups for songs, which the pair filled with banter and humour: "It's great to be here in Auckland. You're a nice bunch of guys."

Introducing Sister Disco as a "pseudo-classical track" Townshend recalled that he was fond of the disco era.

"You should have seen me on the dancefloor... what a c!#$!"

The Who still have what it takes - demonstrated by the fact that a bra and a wedding ring were thrown onto the stage during the perfomance.

There were problems with a misbehaving amplifier during 5:15 but the band quickly recovered.

"Shit happens," Daltrey told the crowd, before explaining that in his younger days he would have had a "hissy fit". These days he is much more chilled out about things.

Daltrey's soulful vocals on Love Reign O'er Me were accompanied by moving scenes from the film Quadrophenia.

For an open air stadium, North Harbour performed admirably in the sound department. And drummer Zak Starkey more than held his own against the two giants of rock.

On You Better, You Bet, Ringo Starr's son was a particular stand out, and by this stage even the bleachers were up out of their seats and dancing.

And the hits kept on coming.

It would be hard to top the rousing version of My Generation but the bar was somehow raised even higher with Won't Get Fooled Again.

"Thanks for coming to see us in these hard times," Townsend said.

"We won't leave it 41 years next time," Daltrey promised, before pointing out glibly they'd be dead by then anyway.

For the encore the stadium was treated to a medley of songs from rock opera Tommy, beginning with Pinball Wizard and finishing with Overture, See Me, Feel Me/Listening to You.

For the night's final song they pared everything down to the basics - Townshend on acoustic guitar and Daltrey's crystal-clear vocals to perform a touching version of 2006's Tea & Theatre.

"Be lucky, be happy, be healthy," advised Daltrey as he left the stage.

Be back soon.

 -Brian in Atlanta
The Who This Month! 


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