The Who Hit 50 And Keep On Going In Los Angeles

The Who Hit 50 And Keep On Going In Los Angeles

first_imgThe world keeps spinning, and so do The Who.After an eight-month delay on account of singer Roger Daltrey’s bout with meningitis, the British legends were back in action at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA on Wednesday night, May 25th. They were as loud as ever and, more importantly, bigger and brighter. Their show was as much a celebration of their 50 years as a band as it was a sign of the times, a performance transformed into a technological spectacular.A light rig with more bulbs than the eye of a house fly? Check.A high-definition screen behind the stage? Check.Trippy visuals to complement the music and captivate the audience? Check and check.Between all those elements and the sheer energy of the band itself, you’d hardly have known The Who were celebrating their golden anniversary, save for the digits plastered across the concert shirts—and the gray hairs on the heads and faces of those who wore them.Daltrey still found moments to soar, be it with his voice on “Won’t Get Fooled Again” or his harmonica on “Baba O’Riley.”Pete Townshend, who recently turned 71, sang and played like a man half his age. He melted more than a few faces with a wailing solo during “Join Together,” growled gruffly during “Eminence Front” and guided the audience deftly through his instrumental opus, “The Rock.”The remaining original pair seemed to funnel fresh energy from its more youthful (but plenty decorated) support: Simon Townshend, Pete’s brother, on guitar and backing vocals; Zak Starkey, Ringo Starr’s son, on drums; Pino Palladino, plucked from the John Mayer Trio, on bass; Loren Gold, John Corey and Frank Simes, veterans of the classic-rock world all. Together, they brought the band’s timeless catalogue to life in a way that was as fitting a tribute to Keith Moon and John Entwistle as any emotional montage. Indeed, the songs those two rocked into existence, along with Townshend and Daltrey, remain the bedrock of the band, the siren that still beckons fans into their seats and onto their feet wherever the Who may roam.But so, too, has the band long staked its reputation to progress, to the modernity of music. Townshend, in particular, was one of the great technological tinkerers of his day. Like his contemporaries in the Beatles and Pink Floyd, he toyed with the creation of new and different sounds, and wasn’t tethered to any traditional instruments or accompanying orthodoxies in doing so. He pushed the envelope across physical faculties, envisioning audiovisual experiences that were not only way ahead of their time, but too difficult to pull off well (Tommy) or at all (Quadrophenia) in their own days.Townshend still appeared torn about his efforts with those rock operas. In introducing the Quadrophenia portion of the set, he sounded at once proud of the album-based tour he and the band put together several years ago and wistful, as if he wasn’t quite satisfied. He even hinted that a similar tour for Tommy could be in the works.After all these years, Townshend remains a tinkerer, an artist, a perfection. He picks and pokes and prods at his own work, scanning for improvements and never quite satisfied with the ones he finds. Call him “The Seeker,” because he’s searching low and high.If “The Who Hit 50!”—in all of its sonic and visual splendor—is any indication, let’s hope he doesn’t get what he’s after ‘til the day he and the band die.last_img

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