Review by Tim Ballou
This was my first show since August 2017 in Vegas. It’s hard to compare the two with the different venues and the addition of the orchestra, but my general feeling is the motor still seems to be running fine and we are indeed Moving On!, not Moving Out. No one is embarrassing themselves. Roger services the songs with unrelenting passion. Pete plays great and does the obligatory windmills and jumps. And a bunch of great musicians support them along the way. I’m not asking for anything else, so I was quite content for the entire show. It was a particularly great show for me as I brought one of my daughters who has never seen them. She’s a clarinet player and thoroughly enjoyed the orchestra.
I’ve got a love/hate thing with the Bowl. I’m an LA local, but it can feel like a travel day when trying to get in to this place, especially on a Friday night with commuter traffic. As if that wasn’t enough, Southern California was plagued with horrific wildfires that closed freeways and sent me on an hours-long detour. Had to leave mid-afternoon just to make sure I arrived on time. I did. And it was worth the trouble.
I’ve got no complaint whatsoever with the orchestra diminishing our beloved band. I was surprised that the show was as loud as it was. I did have issues with the mix sometimes, especially Roger’s vocals. On the way out, I spoke to a random guy who loved the show but also questioned the vocals, even suggesting Roger had some help on some songs. That guy also complained about everyone staying in their seats. He was in a Terrace box, as was I. Yes, it was an odd “sit down” crowd in my vicinity and I’m not used to that either. Still, I did feel it was an adoring, attentive crowd and you never know what you’re going to get at LA shows. Fewer in the under-40 demo than I’m used to seeing. Something happened mid-show in the pool that triggered comments from Roger and Pete. Some sort of security issue apparently. Those sitting closer will have details.
Predictable setlist, but felt different with the Tommy opening, the WGFA acoustic, and the Baba/violin close. Wow, how Eminence Front has evolved into a live highlight. Never a big fan of that song, but the last few tours I’ve enjoyed it and have to say I loved this version. Been waiting for Imagine a Man since Roger’s 1994 tour, and it did not disappoint.
Pete was maybe less chatty, but did thank everyone for making their way in despite the fires and the concerns for their horses, pets, babysitters. He commented a few times on how cool and inviting Southern CA people are. And eventually he said not all of us are great – there are some shitheads – then pointed in different directions in the crowd.
To the naysayers griping about setlists, orchestras, ticket prices - I understand. I empathize with a lot of the arguments. This is not your 1975 Who. It’s not even your 2000, 2002, or 2006 Who. So don’t go expecting those. And don’t expect to pay what you paid for those shows. For me, it was worth the dozen or so goose-bump moments. And I’m just loving that we still get to have these live shows at all since the end of every tour or the beginning of every bronchitis diagnosis we must ask ourselves, was that the last time?