Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend of the Who were chatty and loose at KeyArena on Sunday, May 15, in a splendid show of greatest hits that often felt like a fun-filled history lesson.
The Who has called it quits before, but Sunday (May 15) at KeyArena it really did feel like Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend were saying goodbye for good.
The seminal, septuagenarian British rockers were chatty and loose as they worked their way through more than two hours of their greatest hits. They opened with “Who Are You” and got the sold-out, mostly older crowd instantly on its feet.
Maybe some of them remembered July 15, 1967, the first time the Who played Seattle as the band’s tour snaked its way down to the Monterey Pop Festival during the Summer of Love. Nearly 50 years later, songs like “The Seeker” and “The Kids Are Alright” got the show off on the right foot and let the eager audience know that a steady diet of hits and favorites was on order.
At 71, Townshend can still play some guitar, and he snarled on “My Generation,” the proto-punk song that captured 1960s mod angst and helped separate the Who from the wave of floppy-haired British bands that hit the States en masse thanks to the success of the Beatles. As Townshend uncorked his trademark windmill strum, a man in the crowd turned to his daughter and asked, “Do you get the guitar-hero pose now?”
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It was a fair question, especially since the show often felt like a history lesson, with Townshend and Daltrey offering anecdotes about songs like “Bargain,” which Townshend said was his favorite off 1971’s “Who’s Next.” The stage show focused on the band’s history as well, often lingering on images of fallen comrades Keith Moon (drums) and John Entwistle (bass).
There was no replacing one of the most ferocious rhythm sections in rock history, but the large backing band helped fill out the Who’s sound while still leaving plenty of room for Townshend’s economical guitar work. The crowd seemed especially pleased to hear “Love, Reign o’er Me,” one of a handful of cuts the band played from “Quadrophenia.”
The Who finished things off with arguably its two biggest hits, “Baba O’Riley” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” And to everyone’s enormous delight, the age-defying Daltrey gave fans one final indelible memory by nailing his infamous scream at the end of the song.