Friday, September 29, 2006

Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere

"Let’s pretend we just went off stage and we had our oxygen, our transfusions, our coke and brandy like rock stars do…or did."
Pete Townshend, 25 Sept 06

Near the end of Monday night’s Who concert in Chicago, Pete concluded the band introduction with “the remains of Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey.” This after a winded Daltrey briefly left the stage, leaving Pete to carry on with My Generation. A sign of the times? Surely the dynamic duo has lost a bit of energy since their glory days over 30 years ago, but don’t count them out just yet. Daltrey bounced back to deliver a knockout Tommy medley encore, and Pete throughout the show displayed a startling amount of energy. At 61, there’s no one else I’d rather see play the guitar. I must confess that after the 25th anniversary tour in 1989, with Pete playing in a glass booth because of his so called hearing loss, I never dreamed I’d be seeing him back on stage 17 years later. One this night, the Stratocaster roared once again, in front of a wall of Fender amps. Hearing loss be dammed.

The set list consisted of the predictable classics, split by a rushed sampling of the material from the forthcoming album Endless Wire (available in the EP Wire and Glass). Pete almost apologetically introduced the new music, telling the crowd “this is the part that might get tricky for you.” I remember he did this in 1993 on his solo Psychoderelict tour, coaxing the audience into patiently listening to the new material before heading back into familiar waters. Perhaps the advance release of the record to the American audience would make this easier, as it’s always more challenging to hear unknown music live. The new music sounded good, with the Quadrophenia-like Fragments and the acoustic duo numbers Man in A Purple Dress and Tea and Theatre particularly standing out.

Pete and Roger were accompanied by Pino Palladino on bass, Rabbit Bundrick on keyboards and Pete’s brother Simon on backing guitar, all in the background. Their presence was all but forgotten as the focus was rightly directed at our heroes (I think I only looked at Pino once, during the bass solo runs in My Generation. He’s good, but he’s not the Ox.) Zak Starkey however is a force to be reckoned with, and I love it that he’s become the Who’s drummer.

The highlights for me included Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere, a Mod anthem celebrating the swagger of youth. Backed by images of the Mods, Pete and Roger kicked it in gear, and after 42 years, they can still sing this song and not look ridiculous. Roger’s brief interlude turned into a rare lead vocal performance of My Generation by Pete, who turned it into a bluesy romp at one point, splicing in the rarity Cry If You Want from It’s Hard, and bellowing “this is my generation, baby” at the end. Priceless. Believe it or not, it still is Pete’s generation. Go see these guys while you still can.

Set List: I Can't Explain, The Seeker, Anyway Anyhow Anywhere, Fragments, Who Are You, Behind Blue Eyes, Real Good Looking Boy, Sound Round, Pick Up The Peace, Endless Wire, We Got A Hit, They Made My Dream Come True, Mirror Door, Baba O'Riley, Eminence Front, Man In A Purple Dress, Mike Post Theme, You Better You Bet, My Generation, Cry If You Want, Won't Get Fooled Again, Pinball Wizard, Amazing Journey, Sparks, See Me Feel Me, Tea And Theatre

Listen: Tea and Theatre

Buy: Wire and Glass

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