I Can't Explain
Who Are You
I Can See for Miles
My Generation / Cry If You Want
It's a Boy / 1921
The Acid Queen
Sparks / Pinball Wizard / See Me, Feel Me
Won't Get Fooled Again
Pete's power slide
Review by Ewan Lee Trehearne
The Who, as always played top of their game last night. The show was supposed to be back in September 2016 underbelly name ‘Back to The Who Tour’ which was supposed to be just a greatest hits show like the ‘Who Hits 50’ anniversary tour but they cancelled the UK tour and promised to come back in March and April with ‘Tommy’ to coincide with the 100th anniversary concert at the Royal Albert Hall for Teenage Cancer Trust, which Daltrey is patron of.
The support act was the fabulous The Stand Lamps who played a really bluesy type set and got the Brummie crowd pumped up for what was about to come!
The boys walked on stage and went into I Can't Explain and with the first slam of the guitar by Townshend and the first microphone swing from Daltrey, I promptly had tears down my face (No shame!)
The show then went into The Seeker, Who Are You (Which included the typical sweary dialogue from Daltrey), I Can See For Miles and the feedback from Townshend’s guitar was phenomenal! Onto My Generation/Cry If You Want which had the typical long introduction from Pete, who was very chatty all night! Pete talked about his age and said how he has a back brace to keep him all night and he was called Zak Starkey which prompted laughs from the band and the crowd. Also, during Cry If You Want, Pete came out with the line “The robots are coming”. Fuck knows what that actually means but who cares, it worked! The boys then soared through Bargain and Join Together which was accompanied by the recurring line from Daltrey of “You're sounding good tonight”
After that, straight into Tommy! 1921 sounded good although there was some lyrical mishaps. Next onto It's A Boy with Townshend taking lead vocals and he succeeded although he had a sore throat and chewed a cough sweet on stage, not a single fuck given. Onto Christmas which had some roaring vocals from Daltrey and Townshend’s guitar sounded on fire! Townshend then retook the reigns for Acid Queen and aced it!
Townshend goes into play Amazing Journey/Sparks but after the few first chords he realised he was playing the wrong song and immediately stopped much to the amusement of the crowd. I'm Free provided some of the best guitar I've ever heard in my life! Loud, fast and clear which was backed up by Daltrey's roar of a voice.
Actually onto Amazing Journey/Sparks this time and it sounded heavenly… Typical microphone swinging from Daltrey, windmills from Townshend and of course, the return of Townshend’s Birdman pose. Fantastically psychedelic from the band. Starkey came into his own on the song, too.
Onto Pinball Wizard, Townshend’s guitar was fast and accurate, Daltrey's voice was loud and bellowing but the real highlight for me was John Button’s bass playing, who's replaced Pino Pallidino but Button plays slightly louder and more aggressive giving the song more edge and more of a return to Entwistle’s playing, although no one could replace him. The song then drifted into See Me, Feel Me which was typically awesome and emotive. A good end for the ‘Tommy’ section
Next came You Better You Bet, with Daltrey strolling up and down the stage with his typical swagger and Townshend’s fast guitar and soothing backing vocals, it was a nice treat. Next onto, I'm One which had every mod in the arena blaring their hearts out, myself included. Then to The Rock which showcased some of Townshend’s best guitar work and the backdrop was politically provocative.
Onto Daltrey's highest points, Love Reign O’er Me, his vocals were like something I've never heard before! When he was supposed to go high, he went high like a 9 year old choir boy which surprised even himself, I think. Boy, for a 73 year old, he can hold a note.
Baba O’Riley was obviously the crowds favourite song of the night with the whole crowd singing along. Daltrey’s harmonica work was loud and strong. Townshend was windmilling all through the song and even surprised us with a jump at the end. Won't Get Fooled Again, next. The song rang smooth throughout. Daltrey improvised in the synthesiser solo before Starkey came in hammering down on the drums. Pete produced feedback then slid across the stage while Daltrey did his famous scream.
The band intros were funny and emotional with both Daltrey and Townshend being extremely complimentary towards each other, which contrasts the days where they'd fight, sometimes ending with Daltrey punching Townshend and knocking him out cold.
As a little surprise, the band went into their hidden gem of Relay which used up every ounce of energy they had spare.
This was my third time seeing The Who, and it was the best. The crowd were in high spirits, the band were in high spirits and everyone was there to enjoy themselves.
“This is the biggest band you'll find, it's as deep as it is wide.”
Review by Pat Stanton
The concert in Birmingham was the last in a mini 7 gig tour, if you count the two in RAH, and was a fitting end. The entire band and Pete and Roger were dynamic, energetic, in top form and seemed to be happy to be at the end of the tour. Pete admitted as much when he took the stage, telling us he was glad it was over but happy to be in Birmingham.
Pete mentioned all the cranes that seem to be everywhere as the city is undergoing massive renovation as part of its 20 year plan that began in 2010. The Library renovation was part of that plan and it is unbelievably gorgeous on the inside so I can only imagine how the city will be transformed by 2030. The city is a very interesting mix of old and new architecture blending together.
For the last few shows, Pete has spoken about when he was writing the Lifehouse project that it was so forward thinking and prophetic about the internet, saying that it wasn't just his ideas but that he was surrounded by smarter people who thought of it. Last night, Roger laughingly agreed to the smarter people part, looking over towards Simon and mugging. Of course with his back to Pete. Funny moment.
Roger was back in form, having recovered from his off night in Sheffield. He sounded great all evening through the end of the show. He was again a bit too self indulgent in Love Reign with the attempt at the extended high tenor start of the ending, faltering a little and then hitting his neck on both sides to help the notes come out, and then joking about it after the song.
Pete had throat problems during the night and actually used a throat lozenge just before I'm One as he told us that he had lost his voice. It must gave been a strong one as he spit it out and said it would probably burn a hole through the stage floor in jest. He did make it through the song, albeit a little croaky, but he got a big ovation for trying.
Pete was very energetic through the show, doing a decent leap at the end of Baba and a very good slide across the stage at the end of WGFA. He also rocked the entire stage during The Rock.
The Tommy set was again brilliant. The question of whether Pete would finally get the opening lines of 1921 correct was answered by Roger taking it over and singing the beginning himself. Pete looked surprised and a bit annoyed when Roger stepped on his lines and even then started the response verse that starts "So you think '21 is going to be a good year?" although Roger just kept singing over him. Funny thing is that Roger didn't get the opening right either, improvising the lyrics a bit.
After Acid Queen, Pete looked to Zak and started the first few chords of Amazing Journey. Problem was that I'm Free was the next song on the list so everyone just stared at him, not joining in. No problem, he just stopped and started up again, this time with the correct next song.
During the band intros, Pete again said glowing things about Jon Button fitting in so well and said that it looks like he will be part of the band for the foreseeable future. I guess Pino has other commitments that will keep him busy. I have always enjoyed Pino's performances but Jon has been excellent and a little louder. Perhaps some of the diehard fans will be more accepting of Jon than they have been of Pino as the band's bass player.
The set list was the same as it has been for the last few show with the exception of the bonus song at the end, which had been 5:15 the last 2 shows. Roger started by telling us we were lucky to be getting another song and then introduced it as a song that they hadn't done in 4 or 5 years and that they would probably fuck it up. I was thrilled with the prospect of hearing something different. The band then broke into Relay, a song that they did during the first 3 European shows last fall and not one of my personal favorites but they did it well and the fans around me enjoyed it.
According to the attached set list, it was a toss up which they would do, 5:15 or Relay. The attached set list was Roger's as it is in a very large font and takes up 2 pages rather than the normal one page, presumably so he can read it.
At the very end, the entire band gathered together for group shots, pointing greetings to people in the audience. A great ending to a wonderful show.