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The Who Reigns O’er Love

 

 

 

Madison Square Garden, New York, December 12th.  Photo – Kevin Mazur

 

Last night, The Who – Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend and their touring band – joined their friends and peers at Madison Garden to do their bit for the victims of Hurricane Sandy performing to a packed house and an estimated 2 billion on line/broadcast audience. Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, accompanied by their fine supporting band,  played a rousing 7 song set  – ‘Who Are You’, ‘Bell Boy’, ‘Pinball Wizard’, See Me/Feel Me’, Baba O’Riley’, Love Reign O’er Me’ and ‘Tea and Theatre’. It was an emotional performance. Not the first time, of course, that The Who have rallied to support a city they love and which clearly loves them.

 

Reviews:

New York Times

Ultimate Classic Rock


Ironically, Hurricane Sandy swept up through the East Coast just as The Who arrived in Florida to rehearse for the first leg of their North American tour of ‘Quadrophenia and More’; and last night’s 121212 Sandy Relief Concert occurred just as they were due to fly home for a well-earned Christmas and New Year break before the second leg at the end of January.

 

The tour has been a roller coaster ride, beginning with a first night at which Pete Townshend left the stage because the on stage monitors were too loud, proceeding with some extraordinarily powerful performances of Quadrophenia, which were enthusiastically received by fans and press alike.

 

“The Who’s 1973 rock opera, Quadrophenia, is one of their boldest and most fully realized albums,” wrote Andy Greene in Rolling Stone, “ but it’s never quite gotten the live show it deserves – until now.”

 

 

Scotiabank Place, Ottawa, November 21st . Photo – Sandy Sharkey

 

“Joie de vivre reigns o’er The Who, Boston audience”, wrote Craig S. Semon of telegram.com. “Townshend uttered one of rock’s most famous rhetorical questions, “Why should I care?” and then gave us many reason to do just that on “5:15,” which had a “Live At Leeds” worthy blues jam that was more powerful than a locomotive and had so many windmills on Townshend’s guitar that Don Quixote would have thought he died and gone to heaven.”

 

“The complete “Quadrophenia” recitation was received by the crowd with the sort of transfixed adulation reserved for religious epiphany,” wrote Rick Koster in The Connecticut Day. “A subsequent mini-set — including “Baba O’Reilly,” “Who Are You,” “Pinball Wizard,” “Behind Blue Eyes” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” — was a celebratory reminder that, if their legacy demands that The Who must continually revisit their own history, there are far worse places to be than in the past.”

 

Rehearsal – Kissimmee,  October 30th.  Photo – Rob Lee

 

There’s always an edge of volatility about The Who’s live performances. This was evident even during the rehearsals in Kissimmee, Florida. Everyone there – crew, band, management, merchandisers – knew that Roger Daltrey’s new interpretation of Quadrophenia was going to be big, bold, ambitious and technically very demanding. It would be wonderful – if it worked. Pete had had no input. He’d generously and trustingly left it all to Roger. So would he like it? “I won’t actually see it,” he said. “But I’ll feel it from the audience.”

 

The original stage version of Quadrophenia merged the four personalities of Jimmy Cooper with character traits of the four original Who members. Roger’s new production focuses, by necessity, on the two surviving members of the band. Indeed, key to his vision was to add a new dimension to the piece, the dimension of time. Four personalities and four dimensions. A beguilingly simple device, through which the two Who survivors could come together to celebrate what many fans consider to be Pete Townshend’s greatest music and The Who’s most complete work, Quadrophenia. Roger’s vision was as crystal clear as day, as sharp as a knife. He worked it meticulously through the entire production, personally supervising every aspect of it.

 

Roger gave Quadrophenia a fresh perspective rooted firmly in the rich history and heritage of the album, using the best of the fabulous content that already existed but adapting and adding to it through a unique display. Above all, he wanted the visuals and staging to support the band and allow the audience to respond.

 

Prudential Center, Newark, December 6th.  Photo – Joe Russo

 

 

Being true to the album meant removing the narrative, which was present in previous stage versions, on the grounds that it slowed up the pace and rhythm of the music. The result was a roller coaster of stunning music and songs with very little space in between.

 

On first sight, this was a risky thing to do. The story of Jimmy is dear to the heart not only of Who fans but also, of course, to the creator of the story. On the other hand, no one is more in tune to the indefinable chemistry that happens and needs to happen between a rock band and it audience at any successful live rock show.

 

“If theatre is about suspending disbelief,” Pete Townshend wrote recently, “rock is about suspending any suspension of disbelief and merely throwing oneself into the middle of the music like a willing sacrificial victim.”

 

The Arena at Gwinnett Center, Duluth, November 5th. Photo – Rick Diamond

 

The staging, dominated by six giant screens, three of them circular, in front of which the working Who band, lead by Roger and Pete, perform, helped create this chemistry with the audience along with, of course, the timeless nature of the work itself and the uncanny ability of Pete Townshend to be way ahead of his time.  Nonetheless, during this first leg of the tour, culminating in the 121212 concert last night, something significant has happened with The Who. The playing and replaying of Quadrophenia to increasingly enthusiastic audiences has somehow reignited the passion within the two surviving members of The Who. It’s difficult to define exactly what happened. Perhaps it was a sense of relief that the production worked so well, a sense of “Where did we go right?” Perhaps it was due to the fact that Quadrophenia is still as relevant today as when Townshend wrote it.  Or perhaps it was because of the added ‘time’ dimension, which conjured up on screen performances by the late greats John Entwistle and Keith Moon. These had a huge impact on the audience. Clearly, these touched Daltrey and Townshend too, creating not only a sense of yesterday and tomorrow coming together but also, frequently, especially after John Entwistle’s extended bass solo in ‘5:15’, explosive, wild guitar solos from Pete Townshend.

 

There is always a feeling with tours like this by the handful of iconic rock bands which still tread the boards that they are doing so merely for commercial gain, that perhaps the focus is on marketing the brand rather than celebrating the band. However, if the the virtually unanimous praise of The Who for this tour by fans and press alike is anything to go by, one thing is clear: this is not just a band churning the same old same old to prop up their pensions. No. The Who, Roger and Pete, older and wiser, are a band at the height of their game, loving what they do, performing with skill, honesty  and passion, unerringly in tune with their audiences. Perhaps that is why more and more new fans are coming to these shows, realising that they have a unique opportunity to see the greatest live band of all time doing what they do best, performing Quadrophenia, their most difficult and challenging love child and, in so doing, to witness The Who reigning o’er love.

 

Rob Lee, editor, www.www.thewho.com

 

The Who’s North American tour of ‘Quadrophenia and More’ resumes on January 28th at Anaheim, Ca. and concludes on February 28th in Providence, Rhode Island.

 

To buy tickets for the next leg of The Who’s North American tour of Quadrophenia and More and to read reviews and see photos of the last leg, click HERE.   

 

 

 

 

 

38 thoughts on “The Who Reigns O’er Love”

  1. Mary Godwin says:

    Watching The Who’s performance at the hurricane Sandy benefit last night was a pure joy. Thank you, and much love!

  2. cek100554 says:

    To adapt a phrase from the C. Thomas Howell film “Soul Man”. “The Who, there is no substitute!”

  3. Freddy Voak says:

    Hairs on my head rose. Only band in the concert t do that

  4. Caleb says:

    They completely stole the show last night! After seeing the Stones perform just 2 songs, I thought The Who would be finished after Pinball Wizard, but they just kept going. See Me, Feel Me was the highlight of their set.

  5. Michael says:

    Great show last night. Special shout out to Zak Starkey. Fantastic drumming!

  6. veghead says:

    WOW !!! saw the 121212 show last night.
    You guys blew me away- I cant belive how much energy you guys have! (I would have been out of breath after “Who Are You”)I LOVE THE WHO

    1. veghead says:

      ps- If you’re ever in or around Akron Ohio, please stop by for a cup of tea

  7. VALERIE says:

    Roger, Pete and Company-Enjoy your break. I hope all of you have a warm and blessed holiday back home.
    I am sooooooooo anticipating seeing the show in Anaheim, CA in January especially after seeing a taste last night on telly at the 121212 concert. The British are coming!!!!!

  8. Carole Reed says:

    I just wished it all would last for eternity. Sorry to see it end. They were superb. I love them and their music so so much.

  9. Their performance last night at 121212 Hurricane Sandy Relief blew all those who played before and after them out of the water. No disrespect meant to any other performers, but it was stellar and I was lucky enough to be in the 13th row at the tour stop in Chicago on 11/29/12 with my husband, who is a Brit, and we were mesmerized. Brilliant, just brilliant! Luv, luv, luv The Who!

  10. Druidic says:

    The Who came to 12/12/12 to GIVE to all who were there. They obviously sang from their heart…it wasn’t just a job or forced appearance like some of the others who played. Loved the choice of songs, of the background graphics….especially for Rei’n o me. Wonderful experience you gave everyone, and a few new generations who didn’t know you.

  11. Mark the Spark says:

    After seeing the boys in Chicago and then watching the performance last night, the band is firing on all cylinders!! My wife, sitting next to me last night was bemoaning her decision NOT to go with me to the Chicago show as a mistake!!! Long Live Rock!!!

  12. Rosemary Leone says:

    THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR PERFORMANCE FOR THE BENEFIT OF HURRICANE SANDY. THERE ARE NOT WORDS GREAT ENOUGH TO DESCRIBE YOUR PERFORMANCE.I WAS PLEASANTLY SURPRISED AS MANY OTHERS TO THE NUMBER OF SONGS YOU PLAYED AND TRIBUTE TO KEITH AND HURRICANE SANDY.SAW YOU IN BOSTON A YEAR AGO AND MY SON IS AN AVID FAN AND HIGHLY RESPECTS YOUR TALENT AND HAS ATTENDED MANY OF YOUR CONCERTS IN BOSTON.THANKS FOR MAKING THIS WORLD A BETTER PLACE.WENT RIGHT THROUGH OUR HEARTS!

  13. keith moon reichard says:

    all my years of beating the skins is the who’s fault…the best of the best…great performance WHO….

  14. Steve Krubeck says:

    After seeing last nights benefit performance in New York all I can say is “Oh my God”!! Pete and Roger have never sounded better, and more importantly, it was evident that they are still having fun bringing some of the best rock ever produced to their fans. February’s concert in Denver can’t come soon enough. Merry Christmas to everyone and long live The Who!!

  15. Ronny Lapine says:

    Deeply powerful, emotional, spiritual performance at MSG last night. The Who stole the show!!!!

  16. Dan Busler says:

    I originally saw the Who at the Factory in Philadelphia … it was probably 1967. They were all teenagers as was I. The way the band played with complete abandon and at the same time such perfect structure – like four cogs spinning wildly in perfect harmony set The Who as my favorite band. Last night at the 12-12-12 performance I saw again how hard the band strives to entertain us – “good” isn’t “good enough” – perfect is the least they will provide. They are a bunch of hooligans and we totally love them for it. http://www.danbuslerphotography.com

  17. Dan says:

    Not surprised at how important and received The Who are by the people of Ne York!
    This type of spectacle has been going on for decades.
    And rightfully so!!
    I knew in some way they would play some Quadaphenia.
    But seven songs…
    How great is this band?
    Time to go pick up my tickets for the Hamilton show .
    For the second leg.
    Best of the season, all you Who fans…

  18. Armond Binni says:

    I have been a fan since a friend let me listen to the album ‘ A Quick One” in the 60’s. I haven’t been let down since. I couldn’t attend the concert this tour because of medical conditions but my son is continuing my love for this band. Keep it up guys!!

  19. John Hughes says:

    It’s a shame though that we British fans were lied to by the organisers when they said it was going to be broadcast live in the UK, when it wasn’t.

    I am so disappointed that of the 5 British tv channles said to be showng the concert live not one did.

    All we get is a 2 hour highlights package on Sky Arts a day later which after commercials will be reduced to to about 100 minutes.

    So we won’t see any of the artistes’ full sets, including the Who’s.

  20. Bruno Facini says:

    The performance at 12-12-12 was one of the best performances I have seen from the band. These are 2 guys living their dream and loving it with passion. It is sad that only 2 are left, but seing the Quadrophenia tour at the Mohegan Sun Arena, they paid tribute to both the late Keith and John. I am sure that it touched and inspired Pete and Roger along with myself and all The Who fans who got or are going to see it. That is what makes The Who what they are today. I am glad that The Who didn’t die before they got old, cause they are only getting bigger and better!!! Thanks Roger and Pete for the music and memories…hopefully more to come.

  21. Darin Crouse says:

    Great set! The keith Moon tribute was very touching. He was my first drumming influence. You are my favourite band. Thank you for being great influences in music and life.

  22. Jim Lott says:

    I have to agree with Darin. It was a very touching move to have Keith sing Bell Boy. The man is dearly missed and will never be forgotten. Thanks for putting that in and I am looking forward to seeing the show live when they come to Southern California

  23. hoot252 says:

    cant wait 2 hear this on disk…the entire concert.’.sounded so much better on radio……who stole the show

  24. LyndaGrace says:

    It was magnificent!

  25. Barbara Jacobs says:

    Wow!
    You guys rocked Madison Square Garden!

    On a night of so many great performances,
    yours was the stand-out.

    In the audience I heard so many agreeing with me:

    “THAT WAS FANTASTIC!!!”

    Backstage, it was the same.

    Everybody talking about the great Who!

  26. Aimee Moon says:

    PLEASE ome to Europe aswell! Doesn’t matter which country, I’ll follow you anywhere, but PLEASE give me a chance to see my favourite band in the world live before it’s too late!!!!

  27. John S says:

    Thanks for the raw soul. The performance was instantly my favorite. Macca was playing hard ball. A lot of the acts lacked compassion, which yours had in plenty. Thank you again. If you tour this summer I would love to see ya all in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Man Art Center would be ideal, as if has a park like setting in a metropolis.

  28. Debra says:

    Outstanding performance with all the band at their best. They continue to give and we receive their musical muscle and spirit. Thank you!

  29. Leslie Dunleavy says:

    I’m hoping you will have tickets available to buy on payday 12/21- unfortunately heating oil and staying warm kind of trumps concert tickets. I’m surprising our son, a merchant marine – he’s due into port jan 9 missing Christmas but I’m quite sure this will lift his spirits!
    We are in MA and look for tix for your Manchester nh show.
    Can’t wait- fingers crossed!!

    1. Barbara Jacobs says:

      Hi Leslie:

      If you post an e-mail address here, I will contact you and send you money to buy tickets, via Western Union (which I think is the fastest way to get the money to you at this point in time.)

      Paying for heating oil is most important and your son coming home on leave from his merchant marine service on leave, is a great reason to see the Who.

      I don’t know if there are tickets available for that show there, I’m in NYC.
      Check to see if tickets are still available.

      I want you both to go.

      So check first thing in the morning.
      My comment may be posted here by then.
      I will check for your comment.

      Stay warm, and go see the Who.

      All best to you and your son.

  30. They have closed a whole i n my heart. By being in the front row at Greensboro NC show, it had reafirmed my faith in love, honesty and the desire to know what is right, the desire to put differences together, where they belong.

  31. Glenn from NH says:

    I have loved you guys since H S in 1967. I first saw you in 1971 after Whos Next came out-pefect concert in Saratoga NY. Pete smashed 2+John 1 guitar. I saw you twice since and have tix in Feb in NH;cant wait! Stay healthy,safe+strong.
    Have a great Christmas+New Year! Glenn

  32. Eileen Took says:

    When are UK dates going to be announced? Why do the US get The Who first? They’ll be pushing me in a chair if we have to wait too long!! Hurry hurry!!

  33. Jody says:

    Caught two performances, NJ and Philadelphia. Both were absolutely brilliant…been a fan since the beginning and I hope not to die before I get old, seeing these last 2 Who concerts only reinforced my belief they are the greatest rock&roll band of all time…honesty, raw emotion, exultant music that has proved to be timeless and as relevant as it ever was. Long live the bloody WHO!!!!

  34. The main difference between The Who and, say, the Stones, is that the former have always looked for ways to remove the barriers between band and audience, whether its the original idea behind Lifehouse, or the bank of lights under the drum riser that illuminates the audience during the “Listening to you, I get the music…” chorus. Thanks Rog and Towser for always including us as mates and fellow travelers in your amazing journey, and never “phoning it in.” Seeing the Quadrophenia show was like getting to visit with a couple of old friends, and getting a chance to share memories of a couple of missing friends as well. Incredibly moving, passionate, exhilarating, and satisfying. God save The ‘oo!

  35. Eileen Took says:

    Just watched The Who’s performance at the 12-12-12 concert. Staggering!! I’m totally knocked out. How do they keep on getting better?? The Quadrophenia and More tour is worth waiting for if it ever gets to the UK. So good to see Peter on top form and back where he belongs and, oh boy, how hot is Roger??!!

  36. Its a pretty warm night for it to be 12/2 in Nashville Tn and this left many a fella a chance to pull out their “HEY! Im old but still hip!” uniform spewed-out by LL Bean daily or in my case the I’ve lived harder then most and my black shirt,dark jeans,work boots and chain let ya know that although it may appear nonchalant I’ve worked hard at MY uniform.
    It was into the glass monster and immediately up to the “merch” table. a black simple “Quad” T for me and the wife snags up the famous “Birdman” shirt. A “hey how you” and a few ‘Whats up/’ and we are in. Its UPFRONT/MIDDLE/CLOSE and nice. And for a few hours my spirit and heart and mind were engaged and challenged and spoken to. If you were there you know. If you weren’t you will.
    THE WHO wore no disguises or uniforms on this nite. Maybe we all can take a numba’ and do the same. Thanks fellas. LL#

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