BWW Reviews: THE WHO: A 'Dinosaur' That Still Packs a Bite
By PAUL BATTERSON
It's easy to dismiss the Who as one of those great dinosaurs that raises its head from the murky waters of the 1960s to make a boatload of cash from its nostalgic fan base before slipping back into that same shadowy pond.
After seeing Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend's Feb. 17 performance at Ohio State's Schottenstein Center, the dinosaur label doesn't seem to stick on The Who. The dinosaurs didn't evolve and thus became extinct. The Who continues to grow and reinvent itself and thus, they survive.
Rather simply putting out "Greatest Hits" package, Townshend and Daltrey re-explored one of the band's strongest concept albums, QUADROPHENIA (1973).
It was the only second time the band played a QUADRPHENIA-themed tour. When it was released in 1973, the music was too intricate for The Who to bring to life on stage. Instead, the band opted to release the QUADROPHENIA as a movie in 1979.
However, in 1995, Phish decided to take on QUADROPHENIA as part of their Halloween tradition of playing an entire classic album from start to finish. Seeing that it could be done, The Who enlisted Billy Idol and Gary Glitter to play the roles of Ace Face and the Godfather respectively for a 1996 tour.
The Who's second concept album follows the life of Jimmy, a teenager in 1965 Britain who suffers from as dissociative identity disorder in which his personality is divided up into four distinct parts. Each side of the personality was supposed to reflect a member of The Who.
Sadly, Townshend and Daltrey are the only two remaining members of the original line-up. Drummer Keith Moon died in 1978 and bassist John Entwistle died in 2002. While there were no special guests like Idol or Glitter on this tour, Townshend and Daltrey flanked their lineup with Townshend's brother Simon (guitar and vocals) and Ringo Starr's son Zak Starkey (drums) as well as Pino Palladino (bass), John Corey (keyboards), Loren Gold (keyboards), J. Greg Miller (horns) and Reggie Grisham (horns) to recreate the album's massive sound.
However, Entwistle and Moon were not forgotten through a montage of video images. During the song "5:15" the audience was treated video footage of Entwistle's bass solo. The solo showed fans that didn't get a chance to see him play, and reminded the ones who did get that opportunity, how talented Entwistle was.
Moon, who sang part of "Bell Boy" on the album, reprised the role in another video tribute. During the song, Daltrey stood, microphone at his side, watching his former band mate perform once again.
The last time The Who rolled into Columbus was in the tail end of the 2006 ENDLESS WIRE tour. Daltrey severely strained his voice mid-scream in the climax of "Won't Get Followed Again" and had to fight his way through the performance. This time around, Daltrey, 68, sounded crisp and clear.
But the real star of the night was Townshend. Looking more like an English professor than a rock deity, Townshend, 67, looked more engaged than he had in the last four tours. He released a salvo of windmills as well as providing some melodic acoustic guitar.
In his signature piece, "My Generation" (sadly missing from the set list), Townshend wrote "I hope I die before I get old." At the Schottenstein Center, Townshend proved he was far from acting his age.
While they may be called "dinosaurs" when compared to their contemporaries, but on this tour, The Who proved dinosaurs are still fierce beasts to contend with.