We're Not Gonna Take It, Who Are You
Join Together, The Seeker, You Better You Bet
Relay, Won't Get Fooled Again, Behind Blue Eyes
5:15, The Rock, Love Reign O'er Me
Most of show
Review by Bill Campbell
I attended the Philadelphia show on May 20, 2022. It was my 19th Who concert, the first being July 10, 1989. (I’ve also seen Townshend twice and Daltrey once).
Roger stole the Philly show. His voice cut through the instrumentation like a knife. He was ON! I was astonished at how incredibly powerful, clear & strong his vocals were.
Pete seemed fairly animated, though it seems to me that his guitar playing was more economic with the orchestra’s presence. He was higher in the mix than I anticipated, which I was pleased about, but, like others have noted, the digital drums, well…they suck!
I enjoyed the setlist, especially the acoustic The Seeker, though I think the title track to Quadrophenia would’ve been a great addition to the set. The orchestra was beautifully mixed with the “band”. I found their playing most effective on The Rock, though renderings of the Tommy Overture and Sparks were nearly as compelling. I was generally pleased with the setlist, though I would’ve perhaps preferred another one or two Quadrophenia songs.
I’ll conclude with commentary by my good friend, Bill Murphy, who I attended the show with (and who first saw the band in 1967): “We experienced a very animated and passionate performance by the band led by two 70 year olds who still manage to far exceed all expectations.”
Postscript: at one point during the show, Pete noted that a fan was holding a sign which read, “I’ll donate $500 to Teen Cancer America if you sign my album.” Townshend told the requestor to take the album down to the side of the stage. He then added, “and I’ll donate one million dollars as well.” After a song or two, Pete held the album in his hand and asked us to give a round of applause to the fan who was donating $500. A poignant, unique moment in a passionate performance.
Review by Stephen Voyce
You have probably heard or read all the complaints, “They’re too old.” “It should be called the TWO.” “Is this the WHO’S LEFT tour?” “The orchestra drowns out the band.” “It’s not the WHO if there is an orchestra.” To those of you who feel this way, let me say, “I could agree with you but then we’d both be wrong about the current WHO tour.”
I’ve been a Who fan since the early 70’s and had seen numerous WHO (and solo) tours with various incarnations of the band. Most recently, during the 2019 tour, I saw the WHO with orchestra at MSG, NYC and outdoors in Philly. The prior year, I had seen Roger perform TOMMY with orchestra at Bethel Woods, NY (recorded for a live album) and at the Mann Center, Philly. This past Friday night, as the band pulled into Philly fresh off great reviews from shows in Dallas, OKC, Memphis, Cincinnati and Boston, I thought I knew what to expect.
I was wrong.
Rather than recounting the concert on a song-by-song basis, I will simply say those in attendance witnessed a kick-ass rock show. The band was tight and together. The orchestra enhanced the TOMMY and the QUADROPHENIA segments without drowning out or interfering with the core band.
Roger sounded as good as I’ve heard him in years. The TOMMY tunes-especially “We’re Not Gonna Take It/See Me, Feel Me“-were transcendent. His voice was strong and clear and even when he glitched on a few lines (WGFA and Relay), he was able to recover and sing a “razor line every time.” His vocals (including a non-OSHA approved water spray prior to the scream) for “Love Reign O’er Me” were powerful. I recall an interview about the Broadway production of TOMMY, when asked about the meticulously “pitch perfect” performances of the cast, Roger’s response concluded that his preference was to sing with intense passion and he’s always believed in… “a bum note and a bead of sweat” more than perfection. This past Friday, his vocals were as “on” as I’ve heard in years without sacrificing any of the passion. Oh yeah, there were also a few microphone spins.
Pete, having now completed his 77th revolution around the sun, seemed to be having a great time on stage. He smiled and interacted with the audience. He saw a fan’s sign stating he would “Donate $500 to TCA if Pete would autograph his album”. Pete called out to him from the stage and told him not only would he sign his album but also donate $1 million to TCA!! I had never seen that kind of audience interaction from Pete …usually there would be a chippy remark and he’d smirk and move on with the show. I thought Pete did a brilliant version of “Eminence Front” and the level of emotion he emits when singing “I’m One” reveals the true genius of his lyrics. I also thought Pete improvised and extended some guitar solos more than previous tours. This was a definite surprise given the complexity of working with an orchestra.
I would be remiss not to mention the band. Simon Townshend did his usual remarkable job on guitar and Loren Gold’s piano/keyboard playing was inspired. His intro to “Love reign O’er Me” remains a highlight of the show. Violinist, Katie Jacoby adds a new level of excitement and fun to the finale, Baba O’Riley. Her solo was incendiary and had Roger and Pete dancing and laughing. Pete also did a “leap” (using the term loosely) at the conclusion of the song.
Overall, a fantastic performance.
They are currently playing at a level few bands, regardless of age, could attain.
Looking forward to their return trip to Woodstock/Bethel Woods next week!
Listening to you, I get the music.
Oh Yeah…and Zak Starkey on drums! Did I mention Zak Starkey on drums? (Pete did not mention Zak during band introductions so Roger and Pete went on and on about “Zak Starkey on drums” at the curtain call).