Detroit Free Press (photos)
Review by Ryan Clark
My beloved and I named our first born Townshend and last night in Detroit we took “T” to his concert to see his namesake. Brian Kehew came up for a surprise visit in between sets, Handed him some guitar picks and pointed to the screen to find a message! What a special first night. our boy was so geeked by the visit.
Now… as far as the show... for everybody in the room it was an uphill battle. The performance was mired by technical issues the entire night. Pete’s in-ear monitors, which operate through Bluetooth, were not connected as they should. I’ve seen this in the past with him where he very much depends on the click in his ears. Pete had to walk off for a few minutes to reconnect or recalibrate them during “Were Not Gonna Take It.” This was an annoyance through the entire Tommy set.
The middle set the band just could not get in sync. Several times Roger losing his place or Pete losing his place. Roger seemingly gave up during the first 2 verses of WGFA. Simon through vocals or Zak through nods trying to get everybody back in place with the orchestra. During the lulls, Simon would toss picks into the crowd to keep them engaged. Pete was going through 2 or 3 guitars per song. They nixed the initial start of Eminence Front and WGFA probably should’ve just been restarted as well. It just seemed like a concert from Spinal Tap where nothing could go right. This lacked that infamous Who punch that I have had been privileged to view at every other show. The only way they seemed to get the crowd back on their side was when Pete would start shredding. I wish he and the band should’ve collectively tried to earn back some momentum.
At one point while holding his phone, Pete jokingly raised the phone to his ear and said. “Hello, mom? The show is not going well. The crowd is great but I’m playing like shit tonight.” (Paraphrasing)
I’m not the type to be too critical of a band, but it just felt like a stale show. I really do love this band, but I feel for the price, the issues they had should’ve been polished up before touring began. By comparison, their classic rock peers will rehearse for 2 weeks and considering how super technical this show is, it deserves a lot more respect than it was given by just 1 day of rehearsal from Pete.
I still love The Who, I still will see them. however I’m skeptical they won over any casual fans last night for the next time they visit Detroit.
On another note! Steve Page was the perfect opener for this show. He brought his Barenaked Ladies hits with him and having a cello for the bass part fits the theme for the night. Barenaked Ladies album “Stunt” was the very first album I ever bought at 11 years old so when he was announced as an opener I was so pleased. Their set last night had great harmonies and good banter. His solo material as an independent artist is still just as fun, feisty, and delectable as his most popular years with BNL.