The Who at 3Arena – Review and Photos
If this is to be The Who’s valedictory tour, then they sure are going out the right way. The moment The Last Internationale’s impressive support slot finishes, the nostalgia train begins to chug into life with assorted Who history and trivia scrolling by on the big screen behind the stage. This is unsurprisingly a theme that continues throughout the evening as Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend tell stories of Who days gone by while they blast through that impressive back catalogue of theirs.
It would be easy after all these years to just turn up and take the money, topping up the pension plan with a half-assed performance. But to their credit, The Who put on an excellent show. Townshend has the windmills out from the opener ‘I Can’t Explain’ and even manages a few little jigs and dances during the gig despite struggling with the heat inside the 3 Arena. For his part, Daltrey’s voice is still as powerful as ever and when he doesn’t have a guitar slung over his back, he prowls the stage in classic cock-sure frontman mode.
Absent friends are remembered with images of the departed Keith Moon and John Entwistle appearing on the screen during ‘Who Are You’ while Townshend stabs out those glorious riffs on his red Strat. More nods to the past come as clips from Quadrophenia play on the screen during ‘The Kids Are Alright’ – is this Pete’s way of finally telling us that Jimmy made it through the madness too? Maybe not but wouldn’t it be nice to think he did?
It’s not all about the two surviving founding members though. Well, it is really but mention should go to the touring band who all play a blinder, particularly the incredible Zak Starkey, whose powerful drumming lights up the likes of ‘I Can See For Miles’ and ‘Sparks’. Pino Palladino shows how skillful he is by rattling through those amazing Entwistle bass lines with a minimum of fuss, and John Corry, Loren Gold, Simon Townshend and musical director Frank Simes fill out the sound with guitar and keyboards and add beautiful harmonies.
Those harmonies sound angelic against the emotional depth of Daltrey’s voice on ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ – a song that then roars into furious life with the crowd singing every word back at the stage. The crowd played their part all night – clapping and singing along. There was even a half-hearted attempt to get a chorus of ‘Ole Ole’ going at one stage but thankfully it didn’t catch on. Still though, it’s an appreciative crowd and a band know they’re doing something right when they receive a standing ovation (well, from those in seats anyway) midway through a gig – which is what happens after an absolutely stunning rendition of ‘Love Reign O’er Me’.
The band seem to like Ireland. They enjoyed a night out in Skerries (“a drinking village with a very bad fishing problem” according to Daltrey) the previous evening and this seems to have spilled over into good form the next day and there’s not a cross word between Daltrey and Townshend all night, which some may find surprising given the bickering and fighting that has characterised the band’s existence. Perhaps even hard living international rock stars mellow with age.
Whether it’s age or the Irish air, there’s a nice feeling about this gig and as ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ brings the metaphorical curtains down on the evening, Daltrey and Townshend sing one another’s praises before leaving the stage. For a band that had, as Daltrey points out the “potential to not even make it to the weekend”, to be going fifty year and still produce performances of this calibre is an outstanding achievement and testament to the timelessness of that incredible music.
They may play again some day but for now it seems that this is the end of The Who as a touring entity. Daltrey’s last words seem pretty final.
“Thank you so much for all the support you’ve given us.”
No, thank you Roger. Thank you Pete. Thank you John. Thank you Keith.