On 9/27/06, Jason Gross <perfectlist@...
> Yep, they did a 15-20 minute medley of the new mini-rock opera there.
> Like I said, was pleasantly surprised that it sounded pretty good.
> And yes, as the original post noted, Pete T is recycling some ideas
> and themes but he is still a very intelligent and thoughtful guy for
> sure. And Daltry is still a great singer.
Greg Kot had similar impressions of the Chicago show.
Townshend, Daltrey prove life as a duo means artistic growth
By Greg Kot
Tribune music critic
Published September 27, 2006
The Who are now effectively a duo, but for one song Monday at the sold-out
United Center, they were down to a single guitarist.
Roger Daltrey exited the stage when his voice momentarily gave out, and it
was up to Pete Townshend to carry the load. He overcompensated, and uncaged
one of the finest performances I've seen at a Who concert in decades.
"My Generation" became not a nostalgia anthem that looked back to 1965, but
something that spoke to who Townshend and his audience are now. The
61-year-old elder statesman turned the now infamous line, "Hope I die before
I get old," into a howl of dissent. "I can't die ... We can't die ... There
are too many of us!"
Townshend's guitar strafed Zak Starkey's drumbeat with shuddering sustains
and staccato runs, then landed one final, crashing windmill chord. "This ...
is ... my ... generation, baby!" he exulted.
It was Townshend tipping his mighty ax to Dylan Thomas: "My Generation"
transformed into "Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night," and its
exhortation to "rage, rage against the dying of the light."
The guitarist remains one of rock's most complex and contradictory figures.
Always one of its most enlightened forward thinkers, he has presided over a
nostalgia act for the last two decades, one performing competent versions of
decades-old hits for ticket prices ranging upward of $200.
But Monday's show was different. For the first time in 24 years, the Who
have an album's worth of new material to dig into. The new material
effectively recasts the band as a duo, just as much influenced by the
country leanings of the Everly Brothers as the blood-and-thunder proto-metal
of the '60s and '70s Who.
It's a wise transformation, one enforced by tragic circumstances: the deaths
of drummer Keith Moon in 1978 and bassist John Entwistle in 2002.
Still, the crowd at the United Center was primed for the vintage hits. The
Who opened with a handful of Mod-era classics, bashed out solid but hardly
revelatory versions of '70s arena stompers "Behind Blue Eyes," "Won't Get
Fooled Again" and "Who Are You," and closed with a suite of songs from
"Tommy." The four-piece backing band was solid as usual, though Starkey and
bassist Pino Palladino simply couldn't push Townshend and Daltrey as hard as
Moon and Entwistle once did.
The barrel-chested Daltrey looked bricklayer tough, even in his blue-tinted
granny glasses, but his raspy voice came and went all night, prompting his
premature exit before "My Generation" (he returned for a lengthy encore).
Townshend, however, was in excellent form; his "Eminence Front" provided a
lacerating highlight, and his high harmonies and scorched-earth
guitar-playing roared with conviction.
The newer songs were worked in almost apologetically. That's too bad,
because the "Wire & Glass" mini-opera contains Townshend's best work in
decades. The band rushed through a truncated version of the 10-song suite,
even though songs such as the regret-filled "They Made My Dreams Come True"
and the tongue-in-cheek "We Got a Hit" deserved better.
One of the new album's most heartwarming developments is that Townshend and
Daltrey have found a new chemistry as an acoustic duo, and their moments
together provided Monday's most memorable images.
Daltrey's finest moment
Daltrey's finest moment was not the perfunctory scream in "Won't Get Fooled
Again," but his caustic reading of one of Townshend's finest new songs, "A
Man in a Purple Dress," which mocks pomposity and hypocrisy in
Then for a final encore, the two didn't increase the volume, but instead
offered a somber coda, "Tea & Theatre." It wasn't the Who as we once knew
them. But it was the Who embracing who they are now, and that's something to
Meet the new rock opera . . .
One of rock's grandest conceptualists, Pete Townshend has fashioned a new
suite of songs on rock 'n' roll and aging: "Wire & Glass." It's the
centerpiece of the Who's first studio album since 1982, "Endless Wire," and
it's a worthy addition to the songwriter's canon.
The album, due next month, meditates on themes that Townshend has been
exploring since the band's earliest days: the affirming power of music, the
rage and alienation of youth, the disillusionment that comes with maturity
and the quest for redemption and revelation.
Those complex, sometimes conflicting ideas coursed through his most famous
rock operas, "Tommy" in 1969 and "Quadrophenia" in 1973. While those
consumed double albums, "Wire & Glass" is a good deal more modest. It
condenses Towns-hend's novel about a rock band's spiritual quest, "The Boy
Who Heard Music," into a 10-song, 20-minute opus. In its brevity, it evokes
the rapid-fire nine-minute 1966 Who mini-opera "A Quick One, While He's
Away." But its tone is more earnest, the music more reflective.
The string-textured chamber pop of "Trilby's Piano" hints at the symphonic
pretensions that marked "Tommy" and "Quadrophenia." "Mirror Door" reworks
the power chords of countless Who anthems, including "Won't Get Fooled
Again," as it imagines an afterlife where musicians commune.
But Townshend breaks through into some new areas, touching on accents that
suggest Scottish balladry and country music. These are long, not necessarily
fond looks back into the soul-draining business of being a rock band. "They
Made My Dream Come True" evokes the tragic 1979 Who concert in Cincinnati,
where 11 fans were trampled to death. "We Got a Hit" mocks the pretensions
of success: "We talked a load of crap," Roger Daltrey bellows, "they just
The suite ends with Daltrey's howl muted on the elegiac "Tea and Theatre."
"We did it all, didn't we?" he sings with unusual tenderness. "Jumped every
wall, instinctively." Its tone suggests that Towns-hend and Daltrey wonder
if all the machinations were worth it. And it raises another question: What
if the bravado-filled narrators of "Tommy" and "Quadrophenia" had stuck
around long enough to face their mortality? "Wire Glass" holds the answer.
-- Greg Kot
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