Review by Paul Varey
When I walked out of Madison Square Gardens back in March, I decided that it was a good point to stop following The Who Hits 50 tour. That was before more European dates were added, and so on a June I found myself heading for Le Zenith Toulouse. The mear thought of a concert at a “Zenith” brings back images of the impromptu sauna held at the Zenith in Paris. If the thought of that terrified me goodness knows how the band feels!
One of the very best things about seeing this tour at intervals has been being witness to how both the set and the band have developed. The gig at Le Zenith was a casual affair Roger even stated that they were making parts of it up as they went along.Thus although the setlist stayed within the normal, rather than exceptional, the audience were treated to extended guitar work out by Pete during My Generation, Bargain and Eminence Front.
The Toulouse gig showed just how far the band as a whole have come from that first ‘proper’ gig in Glasgow. They have been sloppy, tight and ferocious. Last night showed a band playing at its peak. Pete was able to go off where ever he wanted and despite WTF looks from Roger the band steamrollered on taking it all in their stride. Playing like this is a difficult balance to maintain. Overfamiliarity with the material and your band mates can breed an attitude of ‘it will be ok on the night’ or it can produce music which transcends all else and the band and audience are one on a journey of discovery. Thankfully it is the latter which applies to The Who. This is a band that has proven it can go on and wants to go on.
I got the feeling Roger would have liked to do a couple more songs but simply wasn't up to it. As he said ‘its old age’ and, no amount of the tan that they have picked up can disguise the fact that age has caught up with them. I always like to put in a word for Zak, and yet again he was exceptional and there is a definite link between him and Pete that goes beyond playing together. Pino in leather jacket and dark glasses appears to have morphed into some threatening Cousin Kevin and Simon appeared to be having a great time and said that he had enjoyed his support slot. On to Madrid and what will be less intimate venue.