The Who in Florence, Italy 17 June 2023


The Who Setlist Firenze Rocks Festival  2023, The Who Hits Back!




Amazing Journey, Sparks, Pinball Wizard, We’re Not Gonna Take It, Who Are You
Who Are You
You Better You Bet
The Seeker
I Can See for Miles
Won’t Get Fooled Again
Behind Blue Eyes
The Real Me
I’m One
I'm One
Love Reign O’er Me
Baba O’Riley


Review by Antonio Pellegrini

The Who conquer the audience of the Florentine Rock Festival

I have loved The Who for a long time but, for reasons of age and the cases of life, I only started following them live since 2010s. Since then, I have attended several of their concerts, but I had never been to one of their shows in the context of an open-air festival.

Let's be honest: we Italian fans had our doubts about the Florence date. The age of Pete & Roger, now approaching eighty, the rock show that risked being mitigated by the presence of the orchestra, the open-air performance with all the weather risks – we all remember what happened in Verona in 2007 – together with the fatigue of standing for hours under the Florentine sun, were all elements that could give rise to some concern.

On the day of the eve things started to look promising. Some fans magically managed to enter the Visarno Arena without any major problems, they even stand on the stage, until suddenly Pete and Roger arrive. Our compatriots attend a beautiful soundcheck, in which the following songs are played: I Can See For Miles, Who Are You, Overture from Tommy (with orchestra), The Rock (with orchestra).

Someone then manages to get their picture taken with Pete or Roger. There's also our friend Raffaele Lombardi there, two steps away from Roger... What do you expect then? You take a picture with your idol, and ask for his autograph. Instead Raffaele, with great generosity towards fellow Who fans, turns into the most consummate interviewer and asks Roger to say hello to the Italian fans.

Raffaele: 'We are here with the great Roger Daltrey. Say something to the Italian fans, Roger."
The singer, immortalised in shorts and T-shirt by Lombardi, replies: 'Hi Italian fans, I wish we played in your country a lot more in the old days then we ever did. [Your country] is the only country in the world where if you pay my bills, pay hotel, pay the band, pay the food, give me the best sound, and the best lights, I'll sing for free!" The scene ends with Roger hugging Raffaele.

But let us come to the day of the concert.

Florence, 17 June, 4pm, 33 degrees. With my friend Chicco Gualco we came by car from Genoa. On arrival at the Ippodromo del Visarno, we were greeted by the colours of this venue surrounded by greenery and kissed by the sun of the Tuscan countryside.

Entering the huge arena, we immediately notice that the prices of merchandising, food and drink are very high indeed, but we are not here today to complain. We enter the pit, the area in front of the stage. I feel like I'm at a private event, rather than a concert, because both Chicco and I know so many of the people there, some through Facebook, and others because we've seen each other at previous gigs.

The supporting bands parade quickly. The most interesting is Tom Morello, who, among other songs, performs a medley of Rage Against The Machine, and dedicates the beautiful Like a Stone to the late Chris Cornell, singer first of Soundgarden and then of Audioslave with Morello himself: "If you know the song, sing the words with us, if you don't, say a prayer."

In the dressing room Pete Townshend and Morello meet. Tom recounts on his Facebook page, "I don’t often get overwhelmed but when Pete Townsend knocked on the dressing room door at Firenze Rocks to say what’s up and talk rock & activism and then gave me a shoutout from the stage and launched into “Who Are You” I kinda lost my f*cking mind."

Enter the Orchestra del Maggio Fiorentino, and finally the Who arrive. Pete wears dark trousers, a polka dot T-shirt, a nice light jacket too, a cute red cap and a pair of sunglasses that make him look younger. Roger shows up in nice jeans and a fluffy white shirt.

They start with Tommy accompanied by the orchestra. Roger mispronounces a few words, probably due to the near-absence of rehearsals with this orchestra, but his voice immediately appears in good shape. Pete has probably made a secret pact with some demon, because he is still a youthful rock grandpa in high spirits.

Contrary to what some might have feared, the orchestra does not limit the Who's expressive ability but, on the contrary, enriches it, and paints it, at times, with new and interesting colours.

After the excerpt from Tommy, they continue, again with the orchestra, with Who Are You, Eminence Front, and Ball and Chain, from the latest Who album.

It was time for a break for the orchestra, and The Who, in the classic rock formation, played You Better You Bet, my first emotional moment of the evening, The Seeker, beautiful, I Can See for Miles, Substitute, Another Tricky Day, which I had never heard performed live in front of me, Won't Get Fooled Again, in which Roger's scream is very powerful and sounds like that of a twenty-year-old, Behind Blue Eyes in an acoustic version with violins.

The orchestra returns to give us an excerpt from Quadrophenia. In my opinion, this is the most successful part of the marriage between The Who and the Orchestra del Maggio Fiorentino: During The Real Me, closing your eyes, you feel like you are in the seventies. It continues with I'm One, where Pete is the absolute protagonist and gives a performance that is both emotionally intense and full of energy. Then 5:15, the instrumental The Rock, during which the world history of the last seventy years passes on the back screen, and then there is Love, Reign O'er Me. How Roger can still sing it so well technically, in such a different way every time, and still give great emotion is a magnificent mystery to me.

The party is over, there is still time only for the disruptive Baba O'Riley.

We are all stunned, we didn't expect such a good concert. Pete and Roger gave us a rockin' evening that, in my mind, for the festival atmosphere, the location, the colours, and the quality, echoes that of the excellent Live at Hyde Park 2015 DVD. The Who Touring band was perfect and complementary to our beloved rock grandparents. In particular, to my ears, the vigorous drumming of Zak Starkey stood out.

My friend Chicco said a few months ago, 'It's the swan song. But what a song! And what a swan!" Actually, the swan still sounds pretty good to me, and I doubt this is his last song. It is probably the last time we will see them in Italy, but what more could we want, hope for, or even dream of?


Review by Melissa and Gary Hurley

Wow and wow! In comparison to the Barcelona gig this was a completely different WHO. The crowd went crazy as THE WHO hit the stage.

Pete was in a good mood as he loves Italy. Roger looked amazed at the large crowd. It looked as he was remembering the good ole days when the band was number one and all the venues had been filled to capacity. Roger was swatting at the bugs on stage and was pissed off with people smoking near the stage. Roger’s vocals suffered a little bit but, quickly recovered.

As for the set: Tommy with the Orchestra, followed by Who are you, Eminence Front (Pete’s vocals flawless) and Ball and Chain.

The Best bit, Roger, Pete, Simon, Zak, Billy, Loren, Jon, Katie without the orchestra. You better you bet, the Seeker (the Best), I can see for miles and miles and miles, Pete didn’t remember how many miles to sing to end the song. Roger said ‘we can’t see that far nor can’t see the set list in front of us? Pete couldn’t remember the order of the songs. Pete also complained that Roger doesn’t like when he (Pete) talks for too long between songs. Substitute, still needs more rehearsal time to get it right. The audience loved it! WGFA, the punters went ape shit and the entire crowd sung along in unison. The acoustic Behind Blue Eyes was breathtaking.

The usual Quadrophenia orchestra set followed. Every instrument on the stage was audible, simply amazing. After the Quad set the show ended with Baba O’Riley and once again the crowd was knocked off there feet with excitement and frenzy.

The show kicked off just as dusk set in at 9.25 and lasted 2 hours and 10 minutes. The venue was a horse racing track two miles out of Florence. The stage and audience was positioned on the perimeter of the horse track. The crowd was estimated at 20,000 plus. There were four opening acts starting at 4:30. None to write home about!

Nothing like walking into the upfront pit and having FRC. Too bad the stage was very high in order for all to see. The back drop and side screens had the brightest projection we can ever recall in a very long time.


Review by Simone Simo

The Who rock Florence, the European tour hits back

In more than 60 years of their career, The Who have managed to change modern music history with a long series of astonishing albums, including groundbreaking songs like My Generation and Baba O Riley. Accompanied by the Primo Maggio Fiorentino orchestra, Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend and their mates offered a two and a half hour performance, playing songs from their entire catalogue.

The first section included highlights from Tommy, such as Pinball Wizard, Amazing Journey and 1921. The crowd was encouraged to sing with the band to some less classic songs such as You Better You Bet, Another Tricky Day and Eminence Front, which became stage classics between the 80s and today. Quadrophenia came later making the fans go mad. Classics such as Love Reign O'er Me, The Real Me and the title track of the album, an instrumental suite accompanied by pictures of many important public characters and events of the twentieth century, which made everybody think about the past, the present and the future of our world.

Roger showed his incredible vocal talent making everybody scream at the end of Won't Get Fooled Again, which ends with the traditional scream by the legendary frontman. Pete showed he's still the best at the rhythm guitar, playing lines solid as stones, backed by the great drummer Zack Starkey and his brother Simon.

With the beloved stage classic Baba O Riley the show ends between screams and cries. The atmosphere suggests a painful farewell.