The Who were in town again this week. Andy Munro was in attendance.
The much-awaited appearance of the Who took place at the Barclaycard Arena after last September’s cancellation but it was well worth the wait. It was the last stop on their short UK tour and fair play to the publicists as, this time, they stopped short of calling it a farewell tour.
We parked in the Jewellery Quarter, some way from the usual ICC/Barclaycard events mayhem and arrived in time to see another fine performance from their now usual support band, The Standard Lamps – tight as ever, pleasingly watched and appreciated by a decent sized crowd.
During the short interval, I joined two queues. Firstly for the Gents – the ‘cocktail’ of beer and urinary issues is obviously a potent (or maybe that should be impotent) mix. As we waited, we looked longingly at the near deserted Ladies but reminded ourselves that if we wanted easy access to the Gents then a Take That concert would be a better choice. The second queue was for the beer – lager at £5 a pint as were the bottles of cider. A limited choice which seemed bizarre when most of the queue, like me, looked the types that would have killed for a pint of Doom Bar or Mad Goose.
Anyway, on came the Who to thunderous applause, launching into a slightly strained version of I Can’t Explain. This was soon followed however by a superb rendition of Who Are You and one of my personal favourites, The Seeker which, in my view, never really charted to its rightful position. My Generation was up next and played with no hint of embarrassment although Pete Townsend amusingly recounted that they had stopped playing it for a time when they were 24 because they thought that they were too old. Another hit followed with I Can See for Miles (presumably without VariFocals).
Ande so it continued, with a run through the Tommy songlist with some Quadrophenia thrown in. If anything, Daltrey’s voice was better than the last tour (mainlining on Fisherman’s Friend perhaps?) and while Pete Townsend sang at times reminiscent of my own attempts to reach the high notes of Keep Right On, his guitar playing was exemplary. Zak Starkey was Moonesque on the drums whilst Simon Townsend was a fitting tribute to the departed Entwistle.
As the concert reached a climax, superb renditions of Baba O’Riley and Won’t Get Fooled Again had the place rocking. In fact, it was only a tinge disappointing that their final encore was Relay, although perhaps that reflected the emphasis on the later Who. Happy Jack, Substitute, I’m a Boy and Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere didn’t see the light of day and the Magic Bus remained firmly parked up. However, this shouldn’t detract from another memorable performance from these Rock Kings – and thankfully there seems to be no sign of their abdication.