Review by Pat Stanton
The last show of the Who Hits Back tour at the Dolby Live theater in Las Vegas was one of my top 5 concerts that I have ever attended. It was a joyful, energetic and loving performance - for both the fans and the performers. Both Roger and Pete were playful, chatty, insightful and totally on point the entire show. All misgivings of Roger's ability to perform back to back gigs were dashed quickly as the band took the stage. Pete announced immediately upon coming on stage that this was the last show of the tour which meant that Roger would be working extra hard and that he could just relax. Roger gave him the typical stare across the stage and they both laughed.
Pete was extraordinarily chatty the entire show. Before he told a particularly poignant and long story about his father, he said that Roger would probably get annoyed as he doesn't like it if he gets too chatty. He then told us about a Jewish couple who were very close to his parents in his early years, so close that the woman, Ivy, was his godmother. He mused if a Jewish person could actually be a godparent and concluded, why not. The man was a musician and performed with his father before he moved to Vegas and became successful and prospered financially. Meanwhile, his father stayed in England, continued to muddle around with his music, drank, played snooker, and ran a small second hand shop, never gaining the success his friend did in America. He continued that he did become rich from writing songs, reminding us that he and Roger have been playing together for more than 60 years. He said that he was just a wet back when he met Roger, not knowing what he wanted to do, attributing much to his partnership with him. It was an extraordinarily poignant moment.
The concert continued through the Tommy set, with a very lively See Me, Feel Me. Pete then started his intro about the new album, when Roger quietly walked over to him and just said, "Eminence Front". Pete laughed and went into an energetic version of it. Followed of course by Ball and Chain.
The band only set was particularly good tonight. At one point, Pete was tuning his guitar on stage so Roger came upfront to fill time. He told us that he had just learned that day that in the 1970s, the US Military had studied the band's touring plans and methodologies to see what was successful and what wasn't. He laughingly then dedicated the next song to them, The Seeker. A side note on The Seeker - Roger has not been singing one line of lyrics correctly for some time. In the verse that begins "I learned how to raise my voice in anger" he changed the last line to "I'm a Seeker, I'm a really desperate guy", repeating this from earlier in the song, not the line as written "I've got values but I don't know how or why". When he sang it correctly tonight, he turned around and looked at Billy Nichols and smiled. Billy must have reminded him of the correct lyric.
Pete then talked about Vegas, and the band's reluctancy to do a residency years before they did one in 2017. He admitted that he had always been a Vegas snob, but that also Vegas was a difficult place for he and Roger because they lost John here at the Hard Rock. He complemented how the city has changed and how many wonderful musicians now live here. He talked about doing another residency, saying it is hard for them to do multiple concerts in a row. Not sure how staying in one city and spacing concerts over a period is tougher than touring multiple cities but perhaps both are difficult at this point. He laughingly told us they are just old and dead meat anyway.
Roger danced around the stage and twirled his microphone much more than usual. Several times, he twirled it in Pete's direction, although never that close. Even during the last song, Baba, he danced energetically with Katie Jacoby during her violin solo. Katie tried to engage Pete in a dance but he just laughed. Roger's voice was strong all night even though this was the first back to back gig in years. He did rub his throat vigorously before and after his WGFA scream, but he continued the show with no apparent ill effect. His LROM, the second to last song, was incredible as was Loren Gold's original intro.
Pete's voice was also very strong, with an outstanding rendition of I'm One. Band intros were comical. Pete forgot Jon Button's name, calling him Jon Lauter (I think). Roger went over and reminded him of his name and Pete apologetically corrected it, laughing. He continued by then calling Zak Keith Moon, although his mistake was by design. Pete was extraordinarily complimentary to this orchestra. They were quite good.
Roger gave a tambourine to a young girl at the end of the show.
My general sense was that they left nothing in reserve after this concert. Hopefully it will not be their last show.