Review by Paul Varey
What a difference a week makes. I was at the RAH on Thursday 30/3/17 to see The Who perform a version of Tommy. That performance was thoroughly professional, but seemed to lack a little 'Oomph'. Fast forward six days to Manchester Arena and the audience got all the 'Oomph' they could handle and more.
For whatever reason Pete seemed 'up' for this concert almost as if he had a point to prove. Pete used his guitar as a weapon all night, banging it, scraping it, and using it as a weapon of rock destruction. This was 71 year old Pete acting like 18 year old Pete. Talking of 18 year old Pete, he also reminded the audience that “we used to charter a plane to get here (Manchester) to play Top of the Pops".
Roger may be a little older than when he appeared on Top of the Pops, but at 73 his voice is still in fine form. The songs may be played in a different key to help him, but that throaty roar is still there and, he seems to have completely recovered from his illness. Listening to Roger during the 'jam' session during My Generation/Cry If you Want is always a treat and, one of my favorite moments.
Zak was his usual self, driving the band on and locking in well with new bassist Jon Button. Although he has toured as part of Rogers solo band, this was only Buttons fourth live appearance with The Who. Already he seems to have found his place. His playing is more aggressive than Pino's and his bass seems to be louder in the overall mix. He was also praised by Pete at the end of the concert.
On the way home my friend and, I were chatting about how some bands make every concert feel like a special event. The Who are one of those bands and, if you haven't managed to catch them on this tour you really should make the effort.
Review by Jimmie Rudolfsson
The show was brilliant. I was concerned with how the different parts of the show would work (hits, Tommy, Quad, hits) but it worked great. It was awesome to hear Christmas, I'm Free and Acid Queen. The new bass player seems to fit in better than Pino in my opinion. His sound was closer to Johns in some songs. And Roger... my god was he a stand out. If this is their last shows, they went out with a bang.
Review by Pat Stanton
The Manchester concert was one of the best that I have seen of the Who Hits Tour in a while. So much better than the Liverpool concert which was like a rehearsal for this one. Everyone performed nearly flawlessly and Pete's guitar issues were kept to a minimum.
The started promptly at 8:45 and ran to 11. I now have no expectations that they will perform different songs so I was thrilled that they added my favorite, Christmas, to the Tommy segment. YBYB returned, being swapped with 5:15.
Both Roger and Pete were in fine spirits all night, with Pete a little uncertain of the day of the week, asking us if it was Wednesday. I guess Glasgow on a Friday will be a "normal" concert day for him. It should be wild.
The movement of Love Reign on the set list to immediately before the closing two (Baba and WGFA) makes for a much better show. The audience stays at the excitement peak rather than coming down during Eminence Front as it has been ordered in prior Hits shows.
Roger was superb during Love Reign. My friend Ian commented that Pete's guitar playing was masterful. I will take his word for it. :)
I have noticed during the recent shows that Pete is not singing a number of the higher notes in some of the songs. He still sounds great just a little lower.
The last 2 shows. Pete has introduced Simon as his brother who is 14 years younger, rather than the actual 15 years. Si let it pass on Monday but corrected it last night. Funny.
Pete also went into the goodbye speech mode at the end of the show, not unlike what they were doing when the Hits Tour started in 2014 and 2015. They stopped saying goodbye after Roger came back from the dead as Pete calls it in 2016. Interesting that they would start up again with new shows being added all the time.
Roger took a lighter attitude with some gallows humor, telling the audience who knows when they will be back as everyone keeps dropping like flies. Adding that maybe they should get some flypaper so they can stick.
The Tommy set keeps getting better and better although Pete juggled the opening lyrics on 1921 with Roger's later lyrics, glancing at him and saying "Sorry". Roger just kept going, singing the same lyrics again. No one cared. They could easily drop a couple of the set list, like the Seeker, and add more Tommy.
The crowd sang lustily all night. It is a large, deep arena and it looked to be a really good gate. Roger encouraged the crowd to sing on a number of the songs, holding the microphone stand out into the audience repeatedly and leading us all to sing.
Jon Buttons seems to be fitting in quite well. Pete complemented him in the introductions, saying that he had replaced Pino well, noting that Pino was on tour with John Mayer. Makes me wonder if Jon will replace him permanently. His My Generation solo was super, as was his solo on 5:15 on Monday in Liverpool.
Review by Lauren J. Hammer
Liverpool was solid but rough. Another round of opening night. And a lot of tech problems - for Roger and for Pete and for Simon. Interestingly, it really got to Pete, and surprisingly, Roger largely took it in stride.
Manchester was fucking fantastic. Light years better. Both of them were in great spirits. Both of them were totally in the groove, all night long. Not unusual for Roger these days. But always more hit and miss for Pete. Pete was ON. Not in an angry way, but in a happy way. The set list continues to profoundly disappoint, but they were both very, very good for me.
I'm Free and AJ/Sparks were especially good, as was Love Reign. Pete did a guitar thing, sliding his pic up the top string, multiple times at the end. It was good for me. (I'm Free was really flat at Liverpool.)
At Manchester, they added Christmas to Tommy, which was the only time Pete had the music stand in front of him, IN OUR WAY. The rest of Tommy, unlike Liverpool, he had it to his left. Huge difference.
The dropped 5.15 (halle-fucking-lujah), but replaced it with YBYB. A lesser song, but less aggravating for me. Fucking irony. I wish they would replace it with Punk and the Godfather!
As for Join Together - it's not a favorite of mine, but I think it's a real happy crowd song. Personally, I'd pick it over YBYB or Squeeze Box, for fulfilling that function.
Let's See Action would be VERY high on my list, as would I Don't Even Know Myself, as would Goin' Mobile.
Fashion report: Roger looking sharp in jeans and a fashionable button shirt. Pete back to the t-shirt, but at least not a ratty one. The second night, he was wearing jeans, instead of slacks, which looked much better, IMHO. Oh, and best of all, other than Tommy, the first night, Pete was NOT wearing glasses. Happy, happy, happy.
Oh, and fun little tidbit...
In introducing Simon at Manchester, "He got the looks, but I've got the big car."
The house couldn't hear it, but Simon replied, "I've got a big car, now!"
P.S. The Who by Pete's "Alternative Facts" Numbers.
Who's Next 1972 (1971)
You Better You Bet - last big hit, in 1979 (Eminence Front/Athena, 1982, not to mention, YBYB, 1981!)
"14 years younger than me, my brother Simon." (While Simon is saying 15!)
"I never thought I'd be singing My Generation at 73." (Well, maybe he will be, but right now, he's 71!