Sun, 24 September 2000:
West Palm Beach, FL, Mars Music Amphitheatre
Record and DVD
||Harmonica, Guitar, Vocals |
||Vocals, Bass |
||Vocals, Guitar |
This show has been rated
(3 out of 5 with 467 vote(s) total)
The Sun Sentinel, 25-09-2000
Nothing gets in their way, not even old age.
The Who opened the last leg of its latest rebound on amazingly strong legs. The British invaders busted out one of rock's most hallowed back catalogs on Sunday night and, before 16,284 people at Mars Music Amphitheatre near West Palm Beach, flung it around for more than two hours in what guitarist-singer Pete Townshend gleefully called "a greatest-hits show."
"But we don't give a ..." he added.
Not about perceptions. Townshend, singer Roger Daltrey and bassist John Entwistle focused on something more primal: maximum rock 'n' roll. The show was a stripped-down marvel, devoid of the ensemble fuss and trappings -- "The Who on Ice" as Townshend once said -- that marked previous retired-not-really tours. The Who trafficked in nostalgia, touring the arc of a 36-year career, and transcended it by sheer musical will.
Townshend, 55, smashed no guitars. But the performance -- a concentrated mix of bliss, finesse and brute force -- sustained the anxious expectation that he might. The prickly camaraderie in the songs also carried over. Townshend, Daltrey and Entwistle jawed at one another good-naturedly between songs. They are having the time of their lives entertaining the world.
Joined by drummer Zak Starkey -- son of Beatles beat-keeper Ringo Starr -- in the seat of the late Keith Moon, and by longtime friend John "Rabbit" Bundrick on keyboards, the core trio opened at a sprint with their first single, 1965's Can't Explain, and tossed two more pretty grenades from their early "maximum r&b" spell: Substitute and Anyway Anyhow Anywhere.
If Can't Explain sounded quaint with its bright, clean chords and call-and-response chorus, the latter two got right in the audience's face. Daltrey sang Substitute -- "Look pretty young but I'm just backdated" -- in self-mocking tones that made the indictment of fakery as stinging as ever. Daltrey wasn't backdated, but in slacks and unbuttoned white shirt looked like the youngest, most fit and chiseled man ever to be 56 years old. He sounded just as vigorous. The snotty defiance of Anyway Anyhow Anywhere -- "Nothing gets in my way, not even locked doors" -- was coined by songwriter Townshend as a London "mod" kids' manifesto, but any young skate-punker today would be galvanized by Daltrey's resounding growl. And there was Townshend to nail the point home, windmilling his arm across the guitar, ripping chords with a tensile power and single-string clarity that no other pair of hands can match. His playing has improved with age. Townshend has added confident soloing to his peerless rhythmic chops. People focus on Daltrey as the embodiment of the band's physicality, but Townshend, in mod polka-dotted shirt, appeared in remarkable shape and in great spirits.
Entwistle, 55, added propulsion to burn and melodic range on bass. Starkey kept the legendary Moon's furious, punctual pace; his strategy for the night was simply to lower his head and not ever let up. Townshend introduced Relay, written in 1971 but only just released on a solo reclamation project called Lifehouse, as "a song about the Internet." (And you thought Al Gore invented that.) Lifehouse was an ambitious concept album, never realized by the Who, about life in a wired-up and electronically cocooned world. The band had fun airing it out on Sunday. But this was not, generally, a night for obscurities. Drowned led into a heady version of Pinball Wizard, from the pioneering rock opera Tommy (1969). The Who pulled out classic songs from classic albums including Who's Next (1971), Quadrophenia (1973) and Who Are You (1978). Of these numbers, Bargain, from Who's Next, was arguably the most unexpected, a cultish fan favorite that sets tender acoustic passages against thundering breaks -- a stormy, sincere love song that few besides Townshend would dare write. Baba O'Riley, with its "teenage wasteland" refrain handled by the crowd, was as close to a college fight song as the repertoire got. Real Me and 5:15, from the streets-of-London chronicle Quadrophenia, came late enough in the 19-song jam to let the crowd gasp at the tuneful energy still pouring off the stage. The band so completely reclaimed Won't Get Fooled Again, even the Nissan ad campaign using it fell out of sight and out of mind.
The Who encored with The Kids Are Alright, amended by Townshend with a sentimental coda tying the kids of old to children of today. They finished, given the set, with the only possible exit song: My Generation. A crowd stretching three generations, that had barely sat down all night, went home united by an experience with a morale: Age doesn't have to matter.
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First of all - my life will never be the same!!!
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Having said that, before the house lights were completely out - out strolled the Who. Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey and John Entwistle - accompanied by Ringo Starr's son Zak and keybordist John "Rabbit" Brundrick - took the stage to a standing ovation. It was almost 2 hours before the crowd would sit again!!
After a few seconds of setting up they tore into "I Can't Explain"‚ followed closely by "Substitue" - both were straight forward versions highlighted by Pete's solo - and the powerhouse drumming of Zak - looking VERY Beatlesque with his mop top haircut - and very Keith Moonesque with his faicial gestures and playing style.
After a breif breather and introduction of the next song, "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere", this is where all hell broke loose. Midway through the song Pete opened the song up and it became a freeform jam with John sliding up and down all over the fretboard, Zak pounding out with fury on the skins, Roger twirling his microphone to the beat, and Pete's searing solo highlighted by his trademark windmill arm swinging - which got a rousing response from the crowd. It was the FUCKING WHO on stage!!!
After introducing the next track as being about the Internet - written in 1971 (!) the band dipped into the slightly obscure with "The Relay", a single from the 70's that was from the abandoned "Lifehouse" project which eventually became "Who's Next".
Pete ansd Roger bantered back and forth between songs about sitting on each others faces (!) and Pete remarking he could sit on his own (!!) and Pete introduced John Entwistle who performed his classic "My Wife" which again, turned into a free form jam ending with Pete jumping up and down to the beat to end the song. Absolutely amazing!!
The night's set was heavy on the "Who's Next"-lp which Pete explained still stimulated him before launching into a sucession of 3 more numbers from the album, "Baba O'Riley," "Bargain" and "Getting In Tune". "Baba O'Riley", of course, generated the most response from the crowd, but "Bargain" was the highlight of the 3 with Pete again adding a smokin' solo backed by the hammering of Zak's beat.
The most obscure track came next, "Naked Eye"‚ and was followed by a solo Pete Townshend performance of "Drowned" from "Quadrophenia". Pete was incredible on the acoustic guitar - makes me wish he would have played a few more solo acoustic numbers!
"Pinball Wizard" was next and EVERYBODY was on their feet. It's still one of the most powerful 2 1/2 minute songs ever written. This was the only selection from the rock opera "Tommy" on this night.
Another "Quadrophenia" tune came next - "The Real Me" - and was the perfect vehicle for John Entwistle to let loose on the bass, followed yet againby an expanded middle section which let the band flex it's musical muscle!
"Behind Blue Eyes" and "You Better You Bet" (the newest song of the night) came next, followed by a screaming version of "Who Are You" which gave Zak the freedom to add fills at will and his power drumming style fits the song perfectly.
"5:15" was next which tuned into the John Entwistle show as it turned jazzy during the 9 plus minute version with a bass solo tucked in between. It's hard to describe how AMAZING John is on the bass - he plays it like a lead bass - rather than just a instrument to hold the beat together.
"Won't Get Fooled Again" ended the set - and to see and hear the Who perform this song is truly one moment any music fan should not miss. Roger's scream, Pete's windmill guitar, THOSE power chords, the keyboards, the drumming, THE FUCKING WHO MAN!!!!
After chants of "The Who", "The Who" they came back out and performed a long version of "The Kids Are Alright" with Pete adlibbing sections about kids being able to do no wrong - much to his own amusement.
The night ended with a full throttle version of "My Generation" at 90mph!!!
This show was a full throttle in your face assault. The Who showed why they were (and still are) the greatest live band ever to take the stage. The Who - all in their late 50's - now have a youthful Zak Starkey driving them and kicking their ass to once again achieve the status of glory days gone past. A most welcome return - and if this is the bands last hurrah - they went out in style!
Record and DVD
West Palm Beach, 24.9.2000 (2:20:13, CD-R)
Rain Or Shine - West Palm Beach, 24.9.2000 (DVD)
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Last update: 2007-02-18 15:41:02 - # 9613