Chicago: The Who’s Kind Of Town

The Chicago Tribune reviews The Who’s show last night at Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL


A swaggering Who blasts through ‘Quadrophenia’

By Joshua Klein, Special to the Tribune



The Who's Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend during the band's show at the Allstate Arena on Thursday.


Photo by Scott Strazzante/Chicago Tribune


“Hope I die before I get old.” Pete Townshend will never escape those fantastically fatalistic words he wrote – and Roger Daltrey first sang – nearly 50 years ago. There is no way around it: Pete Townshend is old, Roger Daltrey is old, the songs are old, nearly everything about the Who is old. If the Who’s previous reunions have proved that “old” and “timeless” are not mutually exclusive, it’s always been up to the surviving pair of Townshend and Daltrey, along with their latest recruits, to inject life into material frozen agelessly in the minds and hearts of millions.


Even at its most precarious the band has seemingly taken the burden seriously, and it was no accident the Who sounded renewed at the Allstate Arena Thursday. The 1978 death of drummer Keith Moon and, in 2002, bassist John Entwistle left holes in the Who that many thought could not be filled, but Townshend and Daltrey transformed tragedy into opportunity, firming up the group’s foundation with the addition of drummer Zak Starkey and journeyman bassist Pino Palladino, a pair of invaluable additions that helped boost the first night of two complete performances of “Quadrophenia” to its full grandeur.


Decades of overpraise as Townshend’s reigning achievement have robbed “Tommy” of some of its power — or at worst reduced elements of it to kitsch — “Quadrophenia” has only gained in stature. The 1973 album still courses with an energy and violence befitting the Who’s roots, and therefore suits the band’s swaggering live resurgence. Best of all, the album’s numerous split-personality characters take some pressure off Daltrey, who got to occasionally rest his surprisingly well-preserved pipes while both Townshend and, sometimes, Townshend’s younger brother Simon got turns at the mic. Even so, despite blasting out of the gate with “The Real Me,” the first half of the show found the group easing into the material, with Daltrey and Townshend strong but somewhat restrained.


But then came “5:15” (or, as lovers of the double-album might know it, the start of side three). Suddenly the energy level lifted, with the barrel-chested Daltrey belting his heart out and Townshend slashing away at his Strat through an extended solo. From “Drowned” though “Love, Reign O’er Me,” the set maintained this high output for the remainder of the night, finding time to pay tribute to its late members (by way of video montage) while daring you to take your eyes off the surviving principals on stage. Townshend and Daltrey frequently smirked and smiled to themselves when struck by certain line readings, and provided plenty of their trademark mic-swinging, arm-windmilling moves, much to the enjoyment of the crowd, which respectfully remained on its feet the entire evening.


Maybe Daltrey and Townshend performed a little less physically than they used to, maybe a little more in check. Certainly the three keyboard players and two horns provided some extra support. But watching the group pound through a short encore of hits, from the anthemic “Baba O’Riley” to the immortal “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” having a blast while celebrating its past, suddenly getting old didn’t seem like so bad a deal. Who knows how many more tours the Who has in it, but if Thursday night was any indication, it intends to go out swinging.




15 thoughts on “Chicago: The Who’s Kind Of Town”

  1. Pete Kilmer says:

    just a tremendous show that night. Hope there is a dvd and live album from this tour.

  2. Mike says:

    My very first Who appearance, all I can say is brilliant!! The numbers behind the age of Roger & Pete mean nothing. They perform their craft at a level that is simply unachievable by the majority of musicians these days. To play such a complex piece of music straight through such as Quadrophenia, LIVE, I was there in total awe of these two men, and the rest of the band. The very tasteful way they incorporated John on 5:15 kicked that song to another level, and I was wondering who was going to sing Bell Boy, and again, Keith was there in all his glory. It was as if we were transported in the mighty Who machine back in time. I find myself very lucky to have witnessed this up close and personal. The Who is still very much THE REAL DEAL!!

  3. jeff davison says:

    Was there both on the29th and 30th. have been to a dozen plus who shows since 1982. Absolutely awesome. Roger has never sounded better. The additional musicians just enhanced the overall sound without overpowering Daltry/Townsend. Hopefully they come back to Chicago at the end of the tour. Anybody who was a doubter because of the last several years of hit/miss shows should be a believer if they have seen the current version.

  4. Eric from Harding says:

    Going 12/612 at The Rock. Can’t wait. Excited! Long Live The Who!!!

  5. Dan says:

    So glad my friends south of the border are enjoying another Who masterpiece !
    Reflecting on thirty plus years as a loyal supporter…
    It’s been one hell of a journey.
    I saw them one week ago in Toronto , and I’m still hearing rave reviews from friends and perfect strangers.. So fitting!
    Especially when some lame ass radio stations(Q107) here in T. O expected The Who to go crawl under a rock , When founding members past..
    But, Pete and Roger never sounded better!
    If I want excited enough about the Toronto show. Well I can’t wait for the second leg in Hamilton ! Just like always..
    Long Live The Who!!

  6. Johnson Katt says:

    The Who are sensational survivors! Pete and Roger, having somehow survived their decades-long fights and feuds, delivered as good a performance as they ever have. Townshend, having realized after Entwistle’s death that perhaps they SHOULD be friends, ultimately has realized that the crowd (regardless of how talented the ventriloquist) come to see the dummy.

    Last night was the first time that my fiancee had ever seen them, even though we’re both “old” as well, but it was my eighth trip into Meaty, Beaty, Big & Bouncy land. (For those who never knew, that’d be Daltrey, Moon, Entwistle and Townshend, respectively.) And The Who’s amazing journey through QUADROPHENIA was my three-peat of that experience (saw them in 1996 at Madison Square Garden, when The Ox was still thundering on bass, and it was extraordinary) could not have been better….save for the physical presence of rock’s greatest rhythm section. But the multimedia magic brought Entwistle (whom I knew, and who died on my birthday in 2002) and Moonie back from beyond the pale by syncing previous performances of “5:15” and “Bell Boy” to the show.

    For the record, Zak Starkey is the only salient replacement for Moon, drumming-wise, and his dad Ringo’s close friendship with Keith clinches his legacy. Pino definitely “brought it,” which was no mean feat: Entwistle was the glue that kept The Who together, both before and after Moon’s death.

    The special surprise of the night was opening act Vintage Trouble, a quartet that brought old-school R&B to the night in the cleverest manner possible: the band, essentially, is The High Numbers (The Who’s previous group name) with an African-American front man whose vocal chops and physical energy meld James Brown, Otis Redding, Jackie Wilson and Prince. They set the wayback-machine clock to 1963 with their high-tempo songs and tight rhythms, putting us exactly in the mood for The Who to tell the tale that is QUADROPHENIA.

    1. Johnson Katt says:

      PS~We buried my Mom at noon, Thursday, so it was a rather exceptional “second line” (the funeral thing they do in New Orleans, from which my fiancee moved to be here in Chicago with me) to end the sadness with QUADROPHENIA. It was an extraordinary day, for me….both a loss and regaining of those things that matter!

  7. scott yanes says:

    I saw the Fri Nov 30th show. I thaught it was great Daltery & Townsend still rock pretty good even though there older. Ringos son did a good job on drums. Even though nobody could make up for Keith Moons great legendary style.
    I did go to The Whos 1st Guadrephenia tour back on Nov. 29th 1973 at The Chicago Ampitheatre.

  8. Dan says:

    Glad that Joshua Klein wrote the review for the Chicago Tribune. The Trib’s primary rock critic, Greg Kot, has NEVER been a Who fan and has dissed them repeatedly. The guy’s an a**hole.

  9. Gary Davison says:

    WOW what a Who Week 😀 Pete is was great that Janice & I met you this past Monday Nov 26 at your book signing. We hope you enjoyed the photo’s we gave you and shared with Roger. We were 16th Row our stage right /you’re Left (LOL) What an amazing performance 😀 As difficult to perform as you expressed to us, you guys nailed it even with the ear monitor issues Roger was having on Thursday eveining. Having had seats for Friday evenings show in the back of the hall the sound was a bit different / not as intense. Zac’s drum sound was so intense 😀 being in the 16th row main floor that was not case seating ofd the main floor in the MEZ, but still was WOWED. Zac’s is over the top :-D. Roger you must have spent a very long time putting together all the video footage as you expressed to us on Friday. GREAT WORK. Your tribute to John & Ketih and had the perform was beautiful & touching. I was fortunate enough to have been stage front for your gig back in 1976 in Oakland Ca with the Greatful Dead. I was with 12 of my friends. Will never ever forget. As after the show we went back to our van to head back to southern Ca. but to our surprise the engine would not start. We were the 1st to arriveat the stadium now we are stuck. As cars drove away I was asking as many people as I could for a jump, but nobody had any jumper csbles.Finally a parade of limos were heading out. It was all of you. I approached your indiviual limo’s to as you all for help. 🙁 your drivers could but Roger “LUCK”. I took your ending words from the last to shows “BE LUCKY” and it broght me back in time to that moment in Oakland. As we were luck after pusing the van a coiple of miles we did find an auto parts store that had an alternator for our van. 😀

    Thanks for a amazing week & being a big part of our 30 year anniversary. God Bless & Good Health & Oh Yeah Be Lucky 😀 See you back in Chicago whenver that may be.
    Gary & Janice Davison

  10. Chris says:

    At the age of 9, going through my dads records I came across this odd cover that intrigued me. Threw it on the player and before the end of the first song was hooked for life.
    The Album was Tommy, and the entire album twisted my mind and creativeness into places not before known. I spent my childhood getting every piece of who music i could, and listening to it over and over again.
    I was a Drummer from an early age and I used to listen to their music with headphones on and try to match Keith’s fantastic stylings.

    Last night was the first opportunity that I had to see them live. Still phenomenal, even missing half of the original key members. Moon lives on through Zak, I am convinced.

    I have almost every Who album digitally and is the main element of my listening, and I also have a rather large collection of their material on Vinyl. All of the albums covered, and many singles.

    I Cannot wait to see them live again. It was almost as I got to experience it again for the first time.

  11. Jimmy says:

    It doesn’t how old they are they can still bring it.Daltrey has his voice back and Pete is in fine form.A great show! Go see them !

  12. Welcome to Music City, The Who!

  13. Marlene Siegel says:

    Twelve hours since the Nashville concert and I am already trying to figure out where we can go to see the band play again. I would describe the concert as sensory overload. I couldn’t decide what I should look at (performers or video)…who to listen to …what I should look at while I was listening …where to focus my eyes… who to look at… which giant screen to look at…to use binoculars or not… or to just close my eyes and listen. I tried listening with my ears and my eyes all at the same time. Wow–Wow–Wow and then some! It was like having a front row seat in the orchestra at a Broadway production. I felt like I was front and center even though our seats were one level up from the floor in a big arena (section 115 or 116 on row N) on the Pete Townsend side of the stage. Last time I saw the Who was in the summer of 75 @ Gator Bowl Stadium.Talk about Teenage Wasteland. Time to get ready for Las Vegas or Rhode Island. I can’t wait.

  14. Paul says:

    I have seen this band several times including Woodstock back in ’69.

    Pete and Roger, Simon, Zac and Pino have the power to transform.

    This is a great show and one that shouldn’t be missed.

    With history and histrionics on their side the group plays it’s way

    through some of the greatest music of the latter half of the 20th


    And you get a chance to see two original and inspiring musicians

    perform at their finest.

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