Concert Review: The Who Hits Back Tour at Hard Rock Live April 23, 2022

Just a few songs into The Who’s two-and-a-half-hour show at Hard Rock Live last Friday, Pete Townshend took on the elephant in the room.

“People always ask me, ‘What do you think of writing, “I hope I die before I get old”‘” the 76-year-old guitarist and songwriter sighed to a packed house. “I feel really, really old.”

Although “My Generation” was omitted on the first night of the Who Hits Back tour, the band managed to rip a 24-song set that would exhaust musicians a third of Townshend’s age.

Throughout its nearly 60 years, The Who has gone through several iterations. The group began in 1964 as a tight, energetically hyper, almost proto-punk quartet. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the band’s ambition to create rock operas allowed The Who to mature more gracefully than many of their peers.

Townshend and lead singer Roger Daltrey are now backed by six core band members, who were, in turn, backed by a 48-piece orchestra, featuring cellos and French horns, at Hard Rock. Unsurprisingly, Friday’s set relied heavily on symphonically enhanced renditions of The Who’s two rock operas, tommy and Quadrophenia. With so many musicians on stage, Townsend and Daltrey didn’t have to resort to their old antics of jumping around like maniacs to get the crowd’s attention.

Click to enlarge

The Who was backed by a 48-piece orchestra.

Photo by Ralph Notaro

In the middle of the show, to demonstrate that they weren’t hiding their diminished musical skills with a fuller stage, the two original band members took the stage alone for a performance of “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” by the Who’s 1971 album. Who’s next. The stripped-down rendition proved that Daltrey could still hit a wide range of notes and that Townshend still had a flexible enough shoulder to complement his windmill guitar.

The band also added a bunch of pitch-perfect renditions of some of their biggest hits, like “Behind Blue Eyes,” “I Can See for Miles,” and an epic “Who Are You?” – which made me realize halfway through that his chorus of “Who who who who” may have served as the basis for the Baha Men novelty song “Who Let the Dogs Out”.

Maybe it was the fact that the Who Hits Back tour was postponed for two years or that the Hard Rock show was the first stop, but the musicians repeatedly complained that the sound quality wasn’t there. where they would like. Townshend pointed to the echo in the room, while Daltrey said the songs still didn’t feel the way they did during rehearsals.

But no one in the audience seemed to care.

The crowd seemed transfixed by the presence of the rock icons of their generation. During the performance of “5:15,” audience members pulled out their air guitars to shred, and during “Love, Reign O’er Me,” they waved their fists in the air.

Click to enlarge Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend complained of sound problems during the first leg of the Who Hits Back tour.  - PHOTO BY RALPH NOTARO

Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend complained of sound problems during the first leg of the Who Hits Back tour.

Photo by Ralph Notaro

The two massive screens flanking either side of the stage were more distracting than the sound issues. Of course, this allowed those in the nosebleed seats to have a good view of the band regardless of distance, but for those seated closer to the stage, it was hard not to focus on the sharp screens rather than the performers on stage. Even those who recorded the concert for posterity on their smartphones chose to focus on the screens. The only time the screens weren’t used to show a live view of the stage was during “The Rock.” Instead, a montage of The Who’s career, including brief tributes to the late rhythm section of drummer Keith Moon (1946–1978) and bassist John Entwistle (1944–2002), was shown.

The evening ended with “Baba O’Riley”, an anthem powerful enough to make us believe that we are still in a desert of teenagers, even if, as Pete Townshend reminded us, none of us is as young as before. .

Set list:

– “Opening”
– “1921”
– “Amazing journey”
– “Sparks”
– “Pinball Magician”
– “We’re not going to take it”
– “Who are you”
– “Front Eminence”
– “Imagine a man”
– “Ground Zero Hero”
– “Unite”
– “Band Only”
– “Substitute”
– “The searcher”
– “I can see for miles”
– “The children are fine”
– “I won’t be fooled anymore”
– “Behind Blue Eyes”
– “The ball and the chain”
– “The Real Me”
– “I am one”
– “5:15”
– “The rock”
– “Love reigns over me”
– “Baba O’Riley”

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