This isn’t The Who from the glory years of the 60’s or 70’s, this isn’t The Who of yesteryear. This isn’t / couldn’t be MY Who.
But what this was on Sept 22nd 2019 in Tampa, Florida was a grand celebration of everything WHO since its inception. This was an old classic car with a refurbished engine and new tires.
The Who with an orchestra you say? Nahh……… that’s not The Who! So said a majority of Wholigans beneath our breath, and of course the public naysayers of social media keyboard warriors of part time Who “fans” That’s not ‘My Who’!.....they cried (including me).
I walked into this concert with minimal expectations and, having heard reviews of how quiet it was and how it isn’t The Who of old, how this that and the other, and a myriad of reasons why I shouldn’t go. I had purposely not watched any videos of previous shows as not to have any pre-conceived notions, I was there to call it as I see it.
Having got my tickets as soon as they were announced months ago, I began wondering if I was about to see the lads for the last time, and to catch the last dying breath of the great dinosaur.
I sat down just a minute before the dinosaur roamed the stage, and it looked at me briefly as if to say….you came to see me die? Then BAM!...the beast awoke!
Tommy hit the stage, Who are you, and even a glimpse into The Who’s ‘future’ with songs from the new album. All driven on a new engine fueled by the orchestra, who were obviously still under warranty as they kept The Who’s drive alive.
Then without warning 40 minutes or so into it, there stood just ‘the boys’ alone and naked… sans orchestra.
Could they survive? What a stupid question! Naked and afraid? Not even close!
Off they went, right into Substitute, ICSFM, You Better You Bet (not my favourite, but whatchagonnado?), WGFA and Behind Blue Eyes.
Pete was like a wild animal suddenly set free from its chains, there was Pete of yesteryear suddenly grinding, and furiously pummeling his guitar to shreds with every ounce of energy pumping through his fingers. Yeah…he walks slower, yeah his back hurts from jumping, yeah he’s not a kid anymore, but tell that to his fingers who still think they are that youthful angst ridden take no prisoners guitarist of yesterday.
WGFA and later 5.15 were a sight for sore eyes and ears, as he was on a rampage despite what he thought was a bit of a clusterf**k (at least that was my impression). Pete, your clusterf**cks are what we Who fans live for.
Next up comes Quadrophenia, and in particular, Love Reign O’er Me where Roger took this song into a different stratosphere. The man added nuances into this already a beast of a song to sing, and turned it upside down and inside out, all without breaking a sweat, he even attempted to reach a note that wasn’t there, after opening his mouth and nothing but air came out.
The man paused, and even joked about it, and seamlessly found the note ‘Pure & Easy’ and told us all ‘there once was a note, listen’ as he brought us right back into the grand dame that is LROM. You are the man Mr. D.
The show ended with Baba O’Riley, and the brilliant Katie Jacoby who almost stole the show. I say almost, as she damn near did, if it weren’t for the fact that the aging dinosaur that is The Who reminded every one of us how great and mighty they are, and respectfully refuses to lay down and gasp its last breath.
This was not the concert I expected, nor signed up for, but I’m glad I did.
Was it The Who from yesterday?, no it wasn’t, but it’s a damn good reminder of how great rock music can be when played in any environment, be it an orchestra or 4 piece.
Long Live Rock !
Review by David Grillo
Who's better, Who's best
As a young sixteen-year old teenager, I was drawn to my first experience witnessing the magic of a Who concert. The "Who's Next" tour was in full swing and they let you know that you were in for an Amazing Journey. I got what I expected and so much more on that wonderful evening.
Flash forward 48 years later on September 22, 2019. The audience waited in gleeful anticipation following the opening act. Then the lights dimmed and the band stepped onto the stage. Pete and Simon rang out the opening chords and it was "Tommy" time. Roger came on crashing two tambourines while Zak kept the steady beat. After the Overture and 1921, the Amazing Journey continued with 3 more "Tommy" classics including "Sparks", "Pinball Wizard" and "We're Not Gonna Take It/See Me Feel Me". The band was in a groove now and the sound had a little less amplification than in 1971, but they really did a fantastic job of bringing a great sound to the audience. Backed with a full orchestra, the music was pure and polished.
Crowd favorites like "Who Are You" and "Eminence Front" were next followed by "Imagine the Man" and some new material "Hero At Ground Zero". Then the band took over without the orchestra for a few tunes, romping into "Substitute", "I Can See For Miles", and "You Better, You Bet". Then Pete and Roger got innovative with an acoustical version of "Won't Get Fooled Again", followed by a stunningly beautiful, lightly orchestrated version of "Behind Blue Eyes".
The band was just warming up and exchanging friendly insults when they broke into a multi-song set from Quadrophenia. With complements from the orchestra, the music was incredible and vocals were powerful. The band played and performed like they did many years before, earning praise from the audience, skeptics, and critics. Starting with "Ball and Chain", "The Real Me", "I'm One", "5:15", "The Rock" and the emotion filled masterpiece "Love Reign O'er Me", it sounded record perfect.
Orchestration, acoustics, percussion, and vocals were outstanding. And just when you think they can do no more, the band and orchestra returned to belt out the "Who's Next" anthem "Baba O' Riley"
This was a show that should never be allowed to end. However, time has a way of wearing and tearing away rock groups, but not this one. The preparation was exquisite and the performance was as good as it gets. So as time "Moves On" and as long as the good lord allows this band to perform, we are honored to attend as many shows as we can. We leave with an understanding that this music is timeless and the band will forever be the finest one in rock history.