Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Who - Live 11.27.06 - Hershey, PA

It is an understatement to say I’m tired from the 400-mile round trip drive, but you will not hear complaints from me. The chaps from Shepherd’s Bush were worth every kilometer. The Who took the stage and went right into “I Can’t Explain” with astonishing energy. I had mentally prepared myself for the effects of time on The Who – Townshend & Daltrey in their 60s, playing without irreplaceable bandmates Moon & Entwistle. Well, the years were kind to Pete & Roger. Obviously, they aren’t young men anymore, but they are also not senior citizens. Daltrey has a hell of a body and voice, and still rapidly swung his mic around like a lariat. Even when his pipes wavered, his stage presence stayed strong. His scream on “Won’t Get Fooled Again” was hair-raising. Townshend was captivating; he looked like he could play all night long. I was surprised to see him repeatedly jumping around and thrashing those power-chords, in his signature Townshend windmill style. There is nothing that compares to seeing this man in action.

The musicians touring with The Who do an admirable job of filling the vacancies left behind. Pino Palladino on bass, Zak Starkey (son of Ringo Starr) on drums, Simon Townshend (Pete’s brother) on guitar/back-up vocals and John “Rabbit” Bundrick on keyboards (although last night “Rabbit” was replaced by his technician). Pete acknowledged the entire band, and said of Zak that they couldn’t do it without him. Starkey definitely knows his way around that drum kit, and there’s no doubt that he’s studied Keith Moon exhaustively. Pino, in Entwistle fashion, remained basically motionless. He held it down quite nicely though, and his solos during “My Generation” elicited a woot of praise from me.

In addition to the music, there was a nice selection of visual distractions – videos of the 1960s counterculture scene and the Who’s younger days, as well as other past rock icons including Hendrix and Elvis. Not to mention a killer light show. The arena was packed with all age groups – from young children to gray-haired groupies. There were lots of Union Jacks, even a full-sized one being paraded around the floor. Also had a good venue experience. The GIANT Center is located in Hershey Park; and as a result, I had the pleasure of seeing their Christmas Candylane light display upon entering, which was quite charming. The event staff was also uncharacteristically friendly. Our seats were in the back of the arena, but we had a great view of the stage and all the video/light action.

With some help from past setlists:
I Can’t Explain, The Seeker, Anyway Anyhow Anywhere, Fragments, Who Are You, Behind Blue Eyes, Sound Round, Pick Up The Peace, Endless Wire, We Got A Hit, They Made My Dream Come True, Mirror Door, Baba O’Riley, Eminence Front, A Man In A Purple Dress, Mike Post Theme, You Better You Bet, My Generation, Cry If You Want, Won’t Get Fooled Again
Encore: Pinball Wizard, Amazing Journey, Sparks, See Me Feel Me, Tea And Theatre

I was thrilled to hear “Eminence Front” – and the 20+ minute encore with the Tommy suite ended the evening perfectly. Apparently, these guys are touring for another full year. If you haven’t seen them, you should.

*Also, I neglected to mention that The Pretenders were the opening act. 55 year-old Chrissie Hynde, like Pete & Roger, looks amazing for her age. I can’t say that I loved their performance, but they deserve props for their longevity.

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