OK, so it wasn't the Who of old. Keith Moon, the symbol of the band's irreverent attitude, is long gone, and John Entwistle, the band's stoic bass man and rhythmic anchor, succumbed a decade ago as well. Pete Townshend, balding and irascible, is clearly showing his age (even stalking off stage prior to the last number in protest of a monitor apparently too loud for his liking). And while Roger Daltrey still looks buff for a man rapidly closing in on 70, his ability to hit the high notes remains in doubt.
This then is the band that proudly proclaimed, "Hope I die before I get old!"
Still, no matter what form they take, and even with a small army of backing musicians in tow to bolster their presence, the Who still proved a formidable force. It was in Sunrise that they launched yet another reunion tour, this time to revive their sprawling 1973 opus Quadrophenia.
Credit the band for attempting to do more than merely rehashing the hits. And for having the mettle to test the production's many moving parts. So while Townshend alluded to opening night jitters, for the most part, he and Daltrey seemed well up to the task.
Townshend treated the audience to several of his patented windmill gestures, while Daltrey occasionally lassoed his mike in his rock god ways of old. Even Moon and Entwistle were present, revived onscreen in the midst of a video stream that illustrated the album's storyline and brought the band back to its roots in ways both poignant and powerful.
As noted in the critic's notebook section of my review
, I'd seen the Who half a dozen times over the course of their illustrious history, which set the bar extraordinarily high. Still, there's apt reason why the Who are ranked as one of the best live bands of their g-g-generation. The fact that they dare to pick up the gauntlet once more proves they're not yet ready to quietly fade away.