Legendary British rock and roll band The Who are still around, though they carry on with only two original members leading the pack. On the road to America for the umpteenth time since the band’s first visit to our shores in 1967, the core of the band consists of founding members, vocalist and frontman Roger Daltrey and guitarist/songwriter/vocalist Pete Townshend. For their current ballad, billed as “The Who Hits Back!”, the band used full orchestra accompaniment to round out their sound.
On just the third leg of the tour, the band – also made up of mighty drummer Zak Starkey (the son of another fairly famous drummer, Ringo Starr) and Townshend’s younger brother Simon on rhythm guitar – got together. arrested at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Wednesday night. and entertained a midweek crowd of just under 8,000 for just two hours.
Kicking off the night of music in dramatic fashion, the band, flanked by a large string section and ending brass section, began with the orchestral “Overture” from his 1969 rock opera. tommy. Daltrey, looking fit and muscular in a plain t-shirt and jeans, rocked a pair of tambourines as all the musicians thronging the stage made their way through the intricate piece of music. Regularly trotting other selections from this album in succession, Townshend, handsomely dressed in a black blazer with a yellow handkerchief hanging from his pocket, was able to show off his guitar chops during “Amazing Journey” and filled the arena with his work. crispy, supercharged hash. . Cleverly placed lit pillars on stage and lights mounted on the back of the stage helped set the mood for the night as they beamed and danced with perfect precision to the music.
Daltrey, now 78, isn’t as mobile and agile as he was in his prime, but he’s still found ways in his arsenal to pull off some of his acrobatic swings and twists. of mic cable he’s dropped in since the ’70s. He strapped on a guitar to play along to the first real crowd pleaser of the night, “Pinball Wizard,” which sounded loud and gritty and drew a throaty roar from the audience. Although not as vocally imposing these days and unable to approach the enormous range he possessed back then, Daltrey can still belt like few other rock singers can, regardless of their age. His performance got better and warmer as the night wore on, as evidenced by an early, brawny play of the 1978 hit, “Who Are You.” Townshend’s first (of many) spoken interludes with the audience touched on the inevitable recognition of the state of the post-pandemic world.
“This might be the first gig you’ve seen in a while,” Townshend said. “I hope it feels good,” he concluded to rapturous applause that led to 1982’s “Eminence Front,” which featured the guitarist’s loudest, boomiest vocal performance of the night. A poignant moment came when, during the performance of a muscular version of “Join Together”, an image of the Ukrainian flag bearing the likeness of the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, appeared on the video projection screens of each side of the stage and was met with clearly audible approval.
Continuing to plow through a barrage of hard-hitting rockers, things hit a snag during a stab on 1967’s psychedelic-tinged “I Can See for Miles.” After a heartfelt intro that found Townshend reminiscing about the song’s success in America following the band’s breakthrough appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967, things took a turn for the worse. At the climax of the song, Daltrey stopped singing, which brought the band’s playing to a screeching halt. The singer then began verbally complaining about the lack of sound coming from his monitors which derailed the performance.
Visually disturbed, Daltrey was obviously not happy. While the sound issues were resolved, he and Townshend opted to switch gears and perform a sparse acoustic version for two of the nugget “Naked Eye”. Trading verses, the arrival of this rarity, despite the circumstances leading to its unveiling, thrilled the diehards throughout the room, including no doubt a patron near the front of the stage who had apparently been shouting song titles requested from the group.
“We don’t make demands,” Townshend lashed out, before softening his tone and adding “…but I love you. You paid for my Ferrari.
Show a little love to another of the band’s seminal albums, 1973 Quadrophenia later in the show, the best part of the evening came with striking and faithful versions of “The Real me”, “I’m One” and “5:15”.
“We had our ups and downs tonight…but mostly ups,” Townshend intoned apologetically.
All was forgotten and forgiven though, with the show’s closing punch of the emotive “Love,” “Reign O’er Me” (which boasted Daltrey’s best vocal workout of the night) and a high-octane version of “Baba O’Riley,” which was backed by a sizzling violin solo by jumping, jumping, dashing orchestra member Katie Jacoby.
Most who have seen The Who live on previous occasions would agree, with the band members themselves, that this performance was not the long-running band’s finest moment. However, despite the challenges they faced, Daltrey, Townshend and company still provided plenty of reminders of the anthemic array of classics they’ve created over the past six decades.
We won’t take it
Who are you
Imagine a man
You better bet
I can see for miles (incomplete)
behind blue eyes
ball and chain
the real me
I am one
Love reigns over me