I don’t know what Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey are on, but after seeing The Who live at TD Garden, I want some.
The Who Hits Back Tour hit TD Garden last night, a day before Pete’s 77th birthday (Happy Birthday Pete). Windmill guitar hero moves? Check. Bluesy shredding? Check. Cheeky-yet-heartfelt commentary on touring and the fact that COVID didn’t kill him? Check.
Daltrey, a year and change older than his bandmate, sounded better than he has in years. As good, if not better, than the show I attended at the Hollywood Bowl in the days following John Entwistle’s death in 2002. Decked out in his now trademark blue tinted shades, white shirt and sneakers, Daltrey took melodic liberties that made 50 year old songs sound fresh without offending OG fans.
The 50 piece orchestra was a wonderful addition, especially for the opening montage of songs from “Tommy.” They remained onstage for a handful of hits: “Who are You,” “Eminence Front,” and “Join Together,” adding to without taking away from the core rock and roll sound.
But the highlight was the stripped down middle portion of the set. With the orchestra gone, a skeleton crew tore through another collection of hits that climaxed with the ever relevant “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Pete’s power chords, Roger’s howl, and Zak Starkey’s expert homage to Keith Moon behind the kit proved to be the high water mark of the night.
Wait – check that. MY highlight was watching my 15 year old daughter at her first real rock and roll concert. She oscillated between singing along and being awestruck at the combination of power and beauty. Pageantry and lack of pretense. Watching and hearing her, watching and hearing the greatest rock and roll band of all time, was the best part of my night.
If seeing The Who live at TD Garden ends up being the last time I see The Who live, I’ll be happy. But if Pete and Roger keep taking whatever they’re taking, I think we’ll be seeing them again.