Review by Dante DiCarlo
It was with mixed feeling I made my way to Wembley, just as I had had mixed feelings when the tickets went on sale. I've never passed up a Who gig in theirs and my home town of London in the last 14 years (well except one time) and even managed to win tickets to an event you couldn't buy tickets for (Stand Up To Cancer taping) , but was this a gig too far?
Hyde park in the summer of 2015 had been such an energy filled and yet note perfect concert, in a way it seemed the perfect last hurrah, now to see yet another arena gig would surely be an anti climax. But since Hyde Park the band had cancelled an entire American tour thanks to Roger falling ill, and left some questioning the future of the band, if this is not ridiculous for a band over a year into a “the long goodbye.”
Perhaps lower expectations led to an enjoyable gig, the band foregoing debut single as The Who and opener of the majority of their gigs for the last 50 years “I Can't Explain” for an opening salvo of “Who Are You” and “The Seeker”. Pete seemed full of energy though he claimed to still be carrying “Christmas pud”. Roger, minus the beard he sported for a lot of last year, seemed fresh and happy to be back. There were a few vocal flubs and at times he appeared to be struggling a bit, but a slightly retooled setlist that saw Roger take a break for I'm One and The Rock before his most vocally demanding track “Love Reign O'er Me”, followed by another break as Pete took to the mic again to deliver Eminence Front, seemed to do wonders. “Love Reign O'er Me” was sung wonderfully and despite a few moments of weakness in the set, the almost 72 year old Mr Daltrey finished the show in strong voice.
There were plenty of jokes, Roger telling the crowd that they used to pick Keith up from nearby and the place hadn't changed much, it was still a pisshole. Pete explained that on tour he had been using his Ipad to show his setlist and footpedals to control the display of words (he still messed up the lyrics of a Quick One nearly every night on the UK 2014 tour) but had gone back to a piece of paper on the floor, but it was so far away he'd have to bend down to look at it. And if he bent down, he'd never get up. He did get up, though ironically the next song was “I Can See For Miles”. Before My Generation he said “Hope I die before I get old... who wrote that?” He also informed everyone he wasn't allowed to say “c**t” anymore at shows so he’d say it backwards.
Overall the band sounded tight and the sound was powerful and not too quiet like some of the gigs I have seen this tour. Pino sounded like he kicked on some added distortion to his bass solo. Pete did some lovely soloing on Eminence Front and Sparks, and overall seemed strong and very comfortable and happy to be onstage.
The gig had no real surprises in the set apart from the addition of “The Rock” but given the task of following Hyde Park this wasn't half bad, The Who once again played a great show that left you wondering just when it will end as it seems presently they are still able to deliver in a way no other band can. These arent men who got old, they are still living their youth, still able to offer up 2 hours of rock excellence that prove they are the masters and at even 50% of their former ability they are still an act to inspire awe. It's a shame then, that the audience was the real downer of the night. Huge sections of the first few rows (many competition winners I think) sat during the entire show, some eventually standing for “Won't Get Fooled Again” which sounded like it was no longer using a 1971 Roger Daltrey scream piped in thankfully. As the song ended Pete looked to Roger and sang “meet the new boss...” reminding him he'd forgotten, before a quick mini reprise to close the night. Some of these people barely tapped a foot, this was a perfect example of what the line “hope I die before I get old” means to me. Pete and Roger haven't got old, some of the crowd obviously have!
Pete said they hoped to be back, and I wouldn't be shocked to see them back in London, for my money Pete has enjoyed the tour more than he would ever let on and probably more so than many a recent tours. If they are still here it will be hard to rule it out, especially when they still have so much left in the tank. Enjoy the shows America!