Review by John Hughes
I've had a chance now to reflect on the show on Thursday. I saw the tail end of Wilko's set, very energetic, pretty loud and Wilko's trademark staccato stage moves in evidence. The audience loved him.
There was quite a moving film shown before the Who's performance set in the TCT ward in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, that I have driven past many times, with staff and patients talking about what TCT means to them. Just before the set started, Roger brought several people on to the stage to introduce them as the people that these events are about, ie young people with experiences of Cancer.
The Who's performance was as I am sure you'd hoped, energetic, with plenty of beefy sound and a touch of sturm and drang from Zak. Some very good harmonies throughout, and no missed cues or mistakes that I heard. Those with better ears who were there are free to correct me:- ) Yes, they dropped SSSAU and SK (see? I can do acronyms too!) and 5.15, which was a little surprising to me.
I thought it was amusing when someone shouted "Get on with it" Pete said OK, we'll get on with it. What was more amusing was Pete introducing a song, then saying "I was going to tell you about this but you want me to get on with it, so I won't." Funnier if you were there than written down. He introduced one song as one he'd written in a swamp, in Florida. For the life of me I can't remember whether it was the Seeker or Join Together? And he started at one point to talk to someone in the front, and for some reason Rog started going on about him holding things up (I think) and Pete said to Roger "hold on, I don't fucking moan at you for talking to people when you're on stage". All in all both Pete and Roger seemed quite chirpy.
Roger's voice seemed to deteriorate badly during Bo'R, neither did he do the scream in WGFA. Highlights? Well, AQO with Pete's rambling intro about doing it at the Stones Rock n Roll Circus was pretty damn good, and I thought the harmonies in this were excellent. At one point in the Cello Cello chorus Roger was air bowing a cello. I thought Amazing Journey/Sparks was excellent, a chance for Pete to stretch out a little. Join Together was also pretty good. It was interesting to me how good Pino sounded during Pinball Wizard and on the MG solo's. I loved Pete's I'm One. It's been one of my favourite songs from Quad from when I first heard it, it's such a poignant song and I have always loved the lines I've got a gibson without a case, I can't get that even tanned look on my face. But, the show was bookended by three utterly great songs.
You know, we talk about the Who's career lasting 50 years, but let's just think about this fact for a moment - I can't explain is a 50 year old song that the band always start their shows with. How utterly fantastic is that, that a song written 50 years ago can be so powerful it is the perfect show opener? And then straight into Substitute, which as I think I've mentioned before, is my personal favourite Who single, and again, a song 49 years old that can still move you? And at the end of the show, Won't get fooled again, a song now in its 44th year, and still the most thrilling, gut churningly exciting finale for a concert I think I could ever hear. From the opening triple drum beat to the very last chord, its relentless and pulsating synthesiser theme never stops underpinning the most exciting drumming (at least on record) to drive it on, underpinning the lyrics of hope, rebellion, frustration and ultimately despairing cynicism - I mean, "meet the new boss, same as the old boss"?
If that was the last live Who show I see, and that was the last live Who song I hear, what a wonderful finale to 47 years of going to Who concerts. Thank you and let's hope it's not good night.
Review by Mark Thompson
The Royal Albert Hall is a very special venue, especially to see The Who and I am wearing a T shirt purchased in the year 2000 at the first TCT Who concert for the first time. After Wilko Johnson performed a short blistering set, Roger came on stage with some of the teenagers (Pete later during the show referred to them as 'young adults') suffering from cancer or in remission from it. This is always one of those lump in the throat moments.
It wasn't long before the band came out to great cheers from the audience. Then they were off into their usual starting number Can't Explain. The set included all the songs you would expect from a great band celebrating fifty years of their music along with a back drop of film clips from their earlier days.
Just before My Generation Pete and Roger had a little altercation about who Pete could talk to in the audience (the front rows) and who Roger could talk to (everyone else). After the song Roger said 'that got him going' referring to Pete. Pete walked over and gave Roger a hug.
They played for a little over two hours and Rogers voice was on top form. The two hours flashed by and the boys finished with WGFA. Pete did the band intros and as Roger walked off stage he said 'we have to go or we will get fined'. So no encore. Roger has said that encores are a load of b2lloc@ks, but what a fantastic night.
Review by Dante DiCarlo
Marking 15 years of Teenage Cancer Trust, The Who returned to the Royal Albert Hall, a much more intimate setting than the O2 shows a few days earlier. As usual the sound at the RAH was fantastic from the opening chords of “I Can't Explain”. Pete and Roger would later bemoan soundchecks, dubbing them useless and stating that in the old days they never bothered, instead just turning up, playing and smashing their gear.
Pete told the crowd that they had been awarded two plaques earlier that day, which were the RAH apologising for banning them twice. This is at least the 8th time the who have played the RAH for TCT so you wonder what took them so long.
The set was much the same as the second night at the O2, minus “So Sad About Us” but they were even better performance wise. On “The Seeker” Pete offered up a blistering solo, while “Love Reign O'er Me” again gave me chills due to the vocals of Roger.
Pete also bantered with the crowd telling us he could tell us the story behind “Pictures Of Lily” but we'd just tell him to get on with it “If you've seen The Inbetweeners you'll know” he added – this being at least the third time on the tour he's mentioned that TV Show. Before “A Quick One” He told how at the Rolling Stones Rock N Roll Circus, the Stones ended up going on at 3am, at which point the Who were the only ones watching them. He added “And we were better (as a crowd) than you too. We're great at being up here but we're also great at being down there” All in good humour of course.
No point in repeating myself, this show was much like the second O2 gig only it was better. Better sound and better performances. Can they raise the bar even further? I could say you better you bet, or who knows? Both terrible puns, but US fans get excited because the London shows seem to prove they mean business and they're coming to a town near you. A tour not to be missed!