The Who have been doing their thing since 1964 but their figureheads, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey showed no signs of wear and tear last night in Pittsburgh. Backed by a 48 piece orchestra conducted by Keith Levenson along with Simon Townshend (Pete’s brother) on guitar, Zak Starkey (Ringo’s son) on drums, Jon Button on bass, Loren Gold on keyboards, and soloists Katie Jacoby on violin and Audrey Snyder on cello, it was a sight to behold.
The twist on the tour apparently came from when Daltrey toured The Who’s Tommy album in 2018 with an orchestra and Townshend did “Classic Quadrophenia” with a symphony backing him in 2017. The last time The Who were in town they were amazing, but the nuances and arrangements presented with a full orchestra were stunning and emotional which added some ear spectacle.
Daltrey’s vocals were spot on (albeit with some range adjustments) and he had no need to get upset with pot smokers killing his pipes like they did in New York. In fact, Pete gave Roger some good-natured ribbing about all the publicity and commented on how ‘the crowd would love it if he got pissed off’. He even was able to crush “Love, Reign O’er Me” without his voice cracking an ounce like it did on their 50th Anniversary Tour. Playing classic hits and deep cuts from the likes of Tommy and Quadrophenia, The Who were brilliant and executed exactly as one would expect.
Highlights certainly had to be some of the tunes Pete jammed on a gorgeous Gibson acoustic on “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and some of his hilarious stage banter, the aforementioned “Love, Reign O’er Me“, a great rendition of “The Punk and The Godfather”, “Eminence Front”, “Behind Blue Eyes” with violin and cello, the old school “Substitute”, and of course the closer “Baba O’Reilly”. The 24 song set was jam-packed with history and musicianship that is a rare find these days.
About the only criticism may be the lack of visuals. Flanked by big screens showing what was going on a bit closer on stage was about the only eye candy offered besides a short film that took the crowd through the years The Who has been around with a focus on major world events and some major deaths including their own Kieth Moon and John Entwistle.
All photos AWeldingphoto © 2019