Review by Jon Pywell
I will be honest here, I was very unsure about this current tour given my only exposure to it has been the youtube videos I have seen of the US leg, which were of questionable quality and appeared (IMO) to show a lack of energy, poor vocals/sound and a more laboured rendition of this great album. Thankfully, and as I pretty much expected, I was proven wrong on Saturday at the O2 Arena.
As a whole this was an exceptional show and worked a lot better than the Albert Hall version of a few years back. Unlike the Irish shows the crowd were standing from the word go and were up for it big time, which created a fantastic atmosphere.
With no narrator to talk through the ‘plot’ it flowed a lot better and the band barely drew breath between the songs. With no real coloration between the images playing on screen and the film version it was left to the music to do the talking, which took it to a higher level, that was easy to relate to. Roger has done a good job with the visual imagery which complemented the music and was in no way a distraction.…all of our lives seemed to flash across those screens….. The band looked fresh and it showed in the quality of the performance. Personally, even though Scott did a good job I think Zak is really missing as he brings more power and drive to the mix. I really loved the work Simon put in, some great lead guitar work filling in the gaps, beautiful sound, and I was impressed by the varied selection of guitars he played throughout the night i.e. Gibson SG, Les Paul (I think he tweeted the full list of models used), definitely a valued member of the band. Pino was up in the mix and had a nice sound, grabbed my attention a few times and found myself watching him longer than I had done in the past.
Pete was on fine form, windmilling throughout and appeared very happy. Loved how after the ‘why should I care, Why should I care’ he mouthed….’but I do, you know me’. The images of John and Keith during 5:15 & Bell Boy was very moving and worked a treat, also moving was Pete waving to John just before he kicked off some aggressive playing himself, shouting at the crowd and thumping his guitar. Also really liked Pete playing acoustic, especially ‘I’m one’.
The gig just flew by and the highlights for me were the instrumentals, with ‘The Rock’ being just about the most amazing thing I have seen for a long time. I went somewhere during that song, somewhere beautiful, damnit I never wanted to come back!…The history of major world events playing out on the screen behind during this was perfect…and the moment it reached it’s massive power chord peak, perfectly timed with the images of 9/11 being shown was moving to say the least, ripped your heart straight out AMAZING! ‘Love Reign O’er Me’ was sublime, Rogers voice held out just fine. I did quite like the piano intro, very different but if I could choose I would prefer to hear Rabbit play it as of old…On the subject of Rogers voice, there were a couple of songs (can’t remember which) where his voice had a strange gurgling/vibrating sound, especially on the lower notes, not sure what was going on there, but sounded weird for a second or two?
No encore as such, they went straight into ‘sing-along a Who’ as Pete called it, with Baba O’Riley getting the biggest cheer of the night, also featured some good ‘Teenage Wasteland’ audience participation. ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ was a crowd pleaser as ever, finishing on a high with Pete looking like he was gonna smash, alas not to be. ‘Tea And Theatre’ is the perfect ending to the night with the crowd left wanting more, before the lights came up putting the end to a brilliant night.
All in all an excellent gig and the boys done good again, with Roger summing it up perfectly at the end….’That wasn’t too bad for old fuckers was it?’…till next time.
Review by Dan Di Carlo
I had seen The Who perform Quadrophenia once before, when they had performed a one off concert in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust. This would be different though. Gone were the special guests, gone was the between track narration, songs had been tuned down, “Drowned” was now a full band electric version, Keith and John would be slotted into the show courtesy of video screens and recordings of them. But the huge difference was the energy!
Unlike my first Quad show where Pete had remained calm, studying his music sheets through glasses, this one was a ”proper” Who show. Pete gave much of the disciplined lead work to brother Simon (who did a great job of recreating the classic guitar lines with a twist of his own) but on certain tracks such as The Real Me, 5.15, Drowned and Love Reign O'er Me, he came alive, soloing and windmilling like we all expect. 5.15 was especially powerful, Pete unleashing some tasty solos as well as featuring the resurrection of the Ox. Projected above us, John Entwistle from the RAH concert in 2000, blasted out that bass solo and it felt like he was in the house with us. A sublime moment and one that felt totally fitting. This was the way Quadrophenia should be live, and a rock opera which drew on the facets of the four members needed them all present. Later on in the show it was Keith's turn, his vocals lifted from the record with video from the Who's Charlton 1974 gig. Again it felt like he was there in spirit..
The gig was probably one of the quietest concerts I've ever been to. Though not a bad thing as I think it allowed the intricate instrumentation to breathe and not clash and become a mess. After Quadrophenia came to an emotional end, the band chatted briefly before launching into “The more” part of the show. My Generation was given the elbow which was a shame since they found time to play You Better You Bet, but apart from that all the main hits were played.. Pete had a senior moment on Pinball Wizard when he started singing “how do you think he does it” again instead of just going to the riff in the key change but it generally went smoothly.
All in all a really outstanding gig, Quadrophenia done the perfect way. Roger also sang well throughout, only struggling a few times towards the end of Quadrophenia before delivering on the rest of the set. Scott did a great job of filling the drumstool, Simon was amazingly solid on covering guitars and vocals, stellar job by him. Pino also did very well at pulling off the basslines and everyone else did great too.
One last mention must go to Vintage Trouble who were the best opening act I've ever seen! I would have paid the money just to see them. Great band with rocking songs and brilliant energy, the singer ran out to sing amongst the crowd and exited after the gig, through the crowd again where I got the chance to high five them. They later did a meet and greet which I didn't go to but maybe next time..