Who Are You
Who Are You / Eminence Front
Who Are You
You Better You Bet
You Better You Bet
I Can't Explain
I Can't Explain
My Generation / Cry If You Want
Won’t Get Fooled Again
Won't Get Fooled Again
Behind Blue Eyes
The Real Me
Love Reign O’er Me
Zak falls off drum stool
Review by Tom Matchett
A night full of surprises and highlights. The orchestral accompaniment is now seamlessly embedded and honed as part of The Who’s sound in this particular era.
Only one song came from this side of the 21st century. Instead there was space for I Can’t Explain, My Generation, The Kids Are Alright and Anyway Anyhow Anywhere. The tour is called The Who: Hits Back for a reason. But in a different kind of space, there was a joyful, sophisticated and cheese free sonic depth with these and other classics sandwiched between a fresh sounding slices of the rock operas Tommy and Quadrophenia.
Eminence Front was in a tight funky groove expanded with its range expanded by the orchestral accompaniment.
Roger’s voice was rich and strong. Pete’s guitar is exactly where it should be for this kind of line up; lyrical, free and disciplined when it needed to be. They are a model for the roles of principals within this expanded format. Masters of rock and nothing less.
Much was brought to the table by Simon Townshend. It was good to see Zak Starkey on a full kit again and a relief to see him get back on it after a brief dalliance with the floor.
Last time I saw The Who it was in a small club in Kingston; that could have been the last time. But it wasn’t. I was thankful to be helped out with a ticket in a superb spot at the last minute, which I think brought me closer to the full band at a concert for many years and one of advantages of turning up to a Who gig for once in my own city solo was that I had limitless scope for dancing, whooping and punching the air. The spirit of the night deserved it and I was happy to be part of it.
I found myself taking the tube and the bus home having a terrific chat with Lawrence Ball who collaborated with Pete on the Lifehouse Method Music project. Its one of those things that has kept The Who refreshing and enthralling to me that it makes music to fight and dance to while encompassing artistic innovation. These worlds all co-exist within the Who’s creative sphere and probably nowhere else with such potency or integrity.
I’ll end this review as it began with flurry of superlatives about this glorious, celebratory, emancipating, genial, powerful performance; and so to the next one, whenever that may be with optimism and enthusiasm.
Review by Melissa and Gary Hurley
Wow and more wow! The Who never ceases to thrill us and every so often throw a spanner into the works. The O2 arena was almost full to capacity. The punters had been there to see this amazing band named The WHO and just not a nice evening out to see icons of RnR.
Tommy with orchestra. It started a little slow-almost the tempo was a bit different. Pete complained that the two drummers from orchestra are becoming brazen and loud. By the end of the Overture the music was bang on! Amazing Journey was full of enthusiasm especially from Roger. Pinball Wizard was a show stopper. The crowd knew every word. We’re Not Gonna Take It was very spiritual and a bit serene as Roger and Pete whispered WNGTI.
Eminence Front, Pete put his all playing some really new riffs and emphasising the lyrics.
Band only- they added Anyway,Anyhow, Anywhere, Substitute, I Can’t Explain, My Generation with Cry if You Want as a filler in the middle of Generation.
The songs needed more rehearsal time but, a very welcome delight to our ears. Smiles all around and the crowd went crazy. WGFA and Behind Blue Eyes, twice Roger said we need to start it again. He said he didn’t have a soundcheck as he was stuck in traffic on the way to the venue. The cello and violin and Pete on acoustic guitar give the song a new dimension.
Orchestra returns and a selection of Quadrophenia is performed. The French Horns and strings are very much in the front mix and works so well. Pete introduced the band. Zak lent back on his stool and didn’t get up. Roger said- is there a medic in the house? Pete said we have a Keith Moon situation. He didn’t seem concerned at all. Final song Baba everyone was on their feet and singing.
Everyone left the stage except for Pete and Roger to perform Tea and Theatre. After the song finished Pete rubbed Roger stomach and they hugged. They look so joyful with each other more than any tour ever. Pete looks like he accepted that this is WHO he is.
Review by Chris Elkins
The Who raised the roof @ 02 Arena in London
Brilliant, awesome, great, impressive, amazing, fabulous, outstanding.
These are the words I heard others say about this show. And yet, they still somehow don’t do it justice. This was definitely one for the ages. At the end, I felt like they should immediately put the video & audio of this show up for sale.
The setlist was very similar to the recent shows on the tour, that is until they got to Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere. They put on a blistering performance during this song. Just unbelievable. They then followed it up with I Can’t Explain. All I could say at the end of this song was WOW. Just blown away and so were many of the folks around me.
Pete, Roger, as well as the orchestra and the band all took it up a notch or two for this show. Pete gave us more windmills than I can remember in the last 10+ years.
Other highlights included Pete remarking that he looked down before the show and noticed that his Prada boots were on the wrong feet. Roger not getting a sound check so having to restart Behind Blue Eyes. He said it was because the traffic was so bad getting to the arena. He should have taken the underground like the rest us. Zak falling back out of his seat while clapping for the orchestra. Luckily for us, he was fine.
Pete remarked a number of times about how appreciative the band is of the fans who have to work so hard to buy their concert tickets. He remarked that he and his wife talk to Elton John almost daily and that Elton always talks about the love that comes to him from the fans. Pete said that he and the band feel the same way about their fans and the love goes both ways.
Review by Lauren J. Hammer
Never in my life did I imagine that I would pine away for an arena show, but after the shitty high stage in Berlin, and then another shitty high stage for the two in Edinburgh, I was SO HAPPY to be back in an arena - with security back on THEIR SIDE of barricade. And I was back home, on the fucking rail, in my exact sweet spot, a few seats Pete side of Roger. My magic happy place. And I had succeeded in getting a bounty of my friends FRC in their magic happy places.
It was GREAT!
As several of us agreed, in subsequent conversations, the big market shows, like NYC and London, are rarely the best. They are great gathering places for socializing, but the best shows, in our experience, tend to be in the smaller markets, where there is less pressure and attention. But tonight, they came out hot. I think it felt great to all of us to be back in comfortable digs (meaning an arena).
Overall, the Tommy segment was the best of my five shows. Not necessarily musically, but much like Saturday (Edinburgh 1), Pete was “on.” Roger’s performance and energy was, too, although his voice was not quite as consistent/strong as Edin 1.
But for most of the night, they were tight and energetic and in good spirits.
Pete’s most interesting chat was about hearing from Elton almost every day of his multi-year farewell tour, during which Elton would routinely express gratitude and appreciation for the outpouring of love he got to experience every show night. This led curmudgeonly-about-performing Pete to consider letting in the love - for which HE expressed some appreciation and gratitude. Did anyone capture this on video? I’d love to see/hear it again.
Another monologue, Pete was talking about how it’s not a bad thing to be the oldest person in the building - for Roger, at which time he put R on the spot, suggesting that he “impart some wisdom.” Roger deferred, in a genuinely humble, “Don’t bloody look at me. In today’s world, I know nothing.” Perfect segue into Pete dedicating I Can’t Explain.
What sadly, was never spoken aloud, was acknowledgement of Eddie’s 300th (!!!) show. Personally, I think it’s amazing. Roger’s not wrong, that he’s mad. That all of us are. That said, what an astonishing amount of dedication and love and support Eddie brings, night after night.
I can’t replace neither Roger nor Pete giving him a proper shout it, but I can shout it from the rooftops, here. Way to go, Eddie!
Eddie Hits 300
As for the band set - it was stellar! It was a mini-Who show within a Who show.
Kids and YBYB were solid but unspectacular.
But then Pete surprised us all with the opening plectrum strains of Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere, and the entire FRC went crazy. It was not the best version, but what a GREAT surprise. And while Pete cut loose a little bit, they kept it fairly short, unlike the Y2K long jam version. IMO, with John gone, that was totally the way to go.
Then Substitute, which as Horace observed, I was oddly super enthusiastic about, at the outset. Doh, my brain thought it was ICE. Embarrassing.
Substitute is not a personal favorite. I’m not down on it, but I don’t love it. That said, I have observed that it’s passionately beloved in the UK, in a way that it’s not in the States, which makes it extra fun to hear in the UK. The crowd belting it out at the Pryzm club shows in February of 2020 was absolutely brilliant.
Then, we got our first I Can’t Explain, in what feels like forever. Super odd, to have it in the middle of the set, but I was SO HAPPY to hear it. I can’t really explain it (tee hee), but it’s a song I’ve never ever gotten tired of hearing. I just love how it feels, and tonight, the crowd was LOVING it. If you watch Melissa & Gary’s video, the volume of the crowd’s singing will bring a damn big smile to your face. And even though this first try was a little bit sloppy, Pete was totally fucking into it, and let loose with a slew of real (not decorative) windmills, and everything. Pure Who bliss. The aggravation of Edinburgh crowd and security was now a distant memory. Who bliss was back.
Then it was My Gen w/ Cry. Same basic as the other nights. I love that it exists, and I continue to feel that it’s underdeveloped and underutilized, with the ending still not worked out. That said, I always hope that they’ll keep it and improve it. I wish I could be tasked with the arrangement.
This was followed by the explosion of WGFA. Not as strong as the exceptional one at Edinburgh 1, but still great energy. Interesting side note: There was no “Do ya’?” After “I know that the hypnotized never lie.” Not from Pete and not from Roger. Not problematic or disruptive. Just odd and of note.
Blue Eyes was a stop and starter. Roger muffed some lines. He got lost. He was having sound issues. He made the right (IMO) call to pull the plug and start it over again. I love when they do that. I don’t love that they need to, but I love that they are simply willing to. IMO, that reflects well upon them.
At the end of the band set, I turned to Horace and simply said, “I’m good now.” I coulda walked out of there, happy.
But wait, there’s more!
I especially enjoyed Real Me. Now that I could SEE ZAK AGAIN after the two nights of high stage hell in Edinburgh. I found myself really appreciating his work on this one. Back in 1996, I was frustrated that he didn’t play more lead/fills. But now he does. He’s a powerhouse. He’s a powerhouse on all of the Quad and Tommy material.
No diss on Jon (Button), who is quite excellent overall, but Jon is no John, and Quad without John is rough. For me, Zak has been the one to step into John’s big shoes on the Quad material. That statement will make sense to some and not to others. That’s ok.
What is left to say about the Quad segment? In the overall, it’s rock fucking solid, and Pete is right that the orchestra is put to incredibly good use on the material.
I will say one thing. Everyone who knows me or has ever read one of my write-ups knows how much I deplore that they play 5.15, that I am of the opinion that it should have been permanently retired in 2002. I wouldn’t put this in the setlist anymore than I would have them play The Quiet One.
But I’ve FINALLY figured out the thing to do. I need to have John playing a 5.15 solo queued up on my phone, and I can just watch John’s fingers flying while what’s left of the band plays on in the background. If there are more Who shows in my future, I’ll get that dialed in.