The Who live review by Ryan Beardsley
I really thought I’d missed my chance to see The Who, they’ve been on the bucket list ever since I heard My Generation and subsequently watched Quadrophenia on my dads old VHS about 50 times when I was 14. But here I am at the o2 to watch 50% of the original lineup in the shape of Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey who are both in their late seventies, I don’t want to dwell on age too much but the passing of time is a recurring theme throughout tonight’s show.
The show is split into three sections, set one is backed by the Heart of England Philharmonic Orchestra led by the extraordinary violinist Katie Jacoby, who on more than one occasion almost steals the entire show.
Tommy is the name of the game as Townshend and Daltrey treat the crowd to excerpts from the classic rock opera, brought to new life by the classical ensemble and complimented further by the talents of one-time Oasis member and Beatles offspring Zak Starkey on the drums.
The middle section is stripped of all the bells and whistles and it’s actually the best part of the show, Townshend stipulates at the start that they’re going to be having fun and there might be a note out of place here and there but the enthusiasm and tightness of the band is infectious.
Substitute, I Can’t Explain and My Generation are spat out with the same venom as in the 1960s and it’s clear the band are having just as much fun as those in the costly o2 seats. Speaking of which Pete Townshend is chatty throughout, regaling us with tales of Elton John’s daily phone calls to his wife, mocking Taylor Swift ticket prices and thanking everyone sincerely for making the effort and paying the price to come and see them. There’s even room for a joke or two about his and Daltrey’s forgetfulness in their twilight years.
The orchestra is back for the finale which is mostly highlights from Quadrophenia, showcasing Townshend’s full creative oeuvre and zest for playing, trademark windmill strokes are on show as he plays up to the crowd. I’ll be honest I had concerns about if Roger Daltrey could still hit those yells but Love, Reign O’er Me completely blew me away and nearly tore the roof off the o2 for the finale.
To end the show, I don’t think there could be a better closer than Baba O Reilly, can you think of one? It sounds suitably epic and the perfect end to a very special evening.
In hindsight it was pretty strange to see a 79-year-old sing ‘I hope I die before I get old…’, but we’re incredibly lucky that they didn’t.
Don’t miss your chance to see The Who, tickets here