Courier Mail on Brisbane

Brian Cady brianinatlanta2001 at
Wed Mar 25 10:55:31 UTC 2009,23739,25240267-7642,00.html

The Who show who's best
By Noel Mengel 
March 25, 2009 11:04pm
NO TROUBLE with arthritis in the shoulder cuff then.

That much was clear as Pete Townshend raised the right arm high, whirled it around in another windmill and slammed out yet another power chord. Ahhh, the joys of the D and A chords when blasted at high volume through four 100 watt Fender tweed amps.

Just to put you in the picture, one of those amps cranked past halfway would be enough to attract the noise police in most venues these days. At the opening night of The Who's Australian tour at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre on March 24, Townshend had four, plus another four stacked behind them just in case he blew up the first lot.

The show highlighted not just what a great guitarist Townshend is but what an original one, too, the way he combines lead and rhythm playing, as well as the unusual chord inversions he uses in his writing.

You have to be a mighty force to compete with that on stage but Roger Daltrey manages to do it. He's one of the few rock vocalists whose power hasn't diminished with age. 

In fact, he's gained a rougher edge to the voice that only adds weight to the songs, while hitting some jaw-dropping notes on songs like Love Reign O'er Me from Quadrophenia. Yep, he still nails the scream in Won't Get Fooled Again, too.

Set list? Too busy dancing to take notes, but it kicked off with '60s tunes I Can't Explain and The Seeker, ranged through Who Are You and You Better You Bet and Who's Next songs Behind Blue Eyes and Baba O'Riley.

Behind, a large video screen showed some beautiful images, '60s Swinging London, scenes from Quadrophenia and, of course, The Who target and Maximum R&B logos. 

And behind Daltrey and Townshend, Zak Starkey put on a non-stop show on the drums, attacking them with all the gusto of Keith Moon at his best.

Encore: The Kids Are Alright, Substitute and a suite of Tommy songs from Pinball Wizard through to We're Not Gonna Take It.

After which the band left the stage and Pete and Rog delivered Tea & Theatre, their song from 2006 album Endless Wire about being the two survivors of The Who.

Rock 'n' roll used to be solely a young person's game. It is no longer, as proven with so much passion and conviction and pride by Daltrey, 65, and Townshend, 63.

Some of us were there with walking sticks, some with our kids, some no doubt with grandkids. But rock 'n' roll will always be music that makes us feel young again, especially in the hands of The Who.

I've seen them twice now, 30 years and three months apart, and both of them are two of the most memorable gigs of my life. If you were there on Tuesday, you will know why.

Kings are another thing

THE all-guns-blazing performance of The Who was in stark contrast to the show I had seen at the venue the week before, from the Kings of Leon.

Sure, it's heartening to see a young band coming through that can get played on the radio and attract that size of crowd.

But I've never seen a band play a stadium venue and make less concession to the fact they had graduated from playing smaller rooms to the big stage, although Bob Dylan is an example of someone who made a career of that.

Sure, KoL have a big light show, but basically they just stand there and play as if they were playing The Zoo. No stage patter, no stage presence. And the crowd goes nuts.

I love it that new bands send their generation of fans wild. Obviously the Kings of Leon are a different kind of band to Coldplay who, like The Who, love to entertain as well as to play. But was I the only one in the room wishing that KoL would shake a hip, crack a joke, smash up an amp, maybe offer up a windmill of the arm?

 -Brian in Atlanta
The Who This Month! 


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