Review by Jim Greenleaf
My review would be that the second reason I go to see The Who is because they are genuine people making real music. What I noticed in Portland was how much all the band members were enjoying playing together and for us.
The band was energized from the start, Roger’s voice was strong, Pete was in a good mood and his guitar playing was solid. The orchestra majestically fills out the Tommy and Quadrophenia selections like they were meant to be heard. They kept it tight and rocking all night long.
The highlights for me were watching Zak and Pete jamming, their interplay is amazingly tight. Zak is so fun to watch, he focuses on Pete like a laser and plays like a octopus. Roger was just having a blast, he looked trim and fit and sounded fantastic. The rest of the band were laughing and smiling all night and you could hear the joy in the music.
And the first reason I keep going are the friends I’ve made, some for over 45 years, and some just yesterday. It’s an Amazing Journey and I’ll always thank The Who for providing the soundtrack.
Review by Scott Klatt
AKA Hecktow King of Sweden
“Before departing the stage, Townshend said to the crowd, 'Do us a favor. Tell your friends they missed us… because tomorrow we die!!' It was a sly acknowledgement that this particular go-round is probably going to be the last we’ll see of the Who."
That was written by Ned Lannamann of The Portland Mercury, in a review he wrote about The Who at the Moda Center … in the year 2016.
Two tours and six short years later, The Who are back at the Moda Center proving once again that predicting the final down fall of The Who is like guessing the very millisecond the Sun will burn out. Like Robert Johnson selling his soul to the Devil at the crossroads for the Blues, Pete Townshend seems to have received the riffs for My Generation in exchange for an eternity wandering the planet being tormented by old age jokes. Well after Thursdays show at the Moda Center, I can report that both Pete and Roger are doing just fine thank you very much. The show was great.
This was the only show for me on the current “The Who Hits Back” tour, and my first since the equally badly named “The Who Moving On” tour in 2020 (Seattle). Both tours could be named “A Little of Everything” tour, with an abbreviated Tommy and Quad bookends, featuring the instrumental songs with help of an orchestra. There is also a great middle set of band hits this time featuring traditional closer Won’t Get Fooled Again dropped into the middle of the show. I really liked the “nontraditional” set and Baba O’Riley as the new closer. Also, two songs from the 1981 post Moon album Face Dances? WOW! Set included not only the often performed You Better You Bet, but a terrific version of the rarely done Another Tricky Day.
The set was a nice balance of hits and rarer stuff to keep all fan levels interested. Although I may have seen better versions of The Seeker and Naked Eye in my 33-year semi-professional Who fan career, all songs show up in the show with the feeling of seeing an old friend again, but with an energy of modern day.
Sadly, we can’t review a modern day Who show without armchair health reports on the surviving band members. Well, I can report both looked and sounded better than I have seen them in some time. Pete looks terrific, now in his mid-70’s. He admits from stage this is an easy tour for him. It’s clear he’s not being challenged too much on stage, with brother Simon doing the heavy lifting at times. Pete can still flip on the Guitar God switch when needed.
Roger, meanwhile, has spent the last decades working on his aging vocal cords. The result is the strongest vocal performance from Roger I can remember in some time. Portland, and much of the NW was plagued by smoke from wildfires this week. Roger mentioned how bad it was and that it was irritating him … heck it was bothering all of us! But if he wouldn’t have mentioned it you wouldn’t have noticed any struggle from Roger this time. I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened to the Roger of the late 90’s – early 2000’s in that situation. He would probably be laying in the fetal position mid stage by the half. Well not this time. Proof positive that just because you are getting older, doesn’t mean you can’t get better.
I can’t close without mentioning a terrific performance that I was not expecting to see. That from a security guard of all people. During the start of the Quad set, a security guard escorted a father and his disabled son down into the aisle next to my 4th row seat. The teenage boy who was totally blind and perhaps had some other challenges as well, was given a safe space in the aisle to totally rock out. The security guard turned his back to the stage and guarded them against anyone trying to infringe on their space. It was one of the best things I have seen in my 30+ Who shows over 30+ years. Just terrific.
So, ends yet another Who concert. As the house lights came up and the crew disassembles the gear, soon the extra guitar picks are tossed out to the remaining fans. A 50something usher who was working the show can’t help herself and dives for one like an osprey on a fish for one. She misses but come up from the floor and looks at me with her big, excited eyes. She laughs and says to me “I guess I shouldn’t be doing that while I’m working huh?”
Don’t worry, your secret is safe with me.
See you next tour,