Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The kids are alright

Went to see the Who last night at Wembly - ably supported by the Charlatans - and they were amazing. Having joked earlier in the day when asked who was supporting them and replying 'their zimmers', it was one of the freshest, tightest and most energetic performances I've seen in ages. And yes, they did play all three CSI theme tunes!

They played a selection of greatest hits and a medley from last year's Endless Wire album (those songs suggest that Pete Townshend has lost of none of his song writing faculties).

As well as great playing from a band that included Ringo Star's boy on drums, the show incorporated wonderful video material, the best of which was montages from the Who's 40+ year career.

There were spine-tingling moments such as 'Won't get fooled again' which was almost revivalist in its passion, the audience rising to the anthem of not being taken for a ride by those who promise change. Daltry was singing this the evening before Gordon Brown takes over at number 10 and I wondered for a moment how many prime ministers have come and gone while the Who have been singing that song.

Other great moments included the opener, the Seeker, wonderfully up-to-date 30 years on, Townshend's solo performance of a couple of tracks from Quadrophenia, showcasing the fact that he is an extremely tidy guitarist and the show's closer, just Daltry and Townshend singing a song - I assume off the recent album - about growing old and being reconciled to one's past, Daltry holding aloft a mug of tea!

The Who have been around as long as I've been a music fan - longer actually - and to some extent have provided a smattering of the musical accompaniment to my journey. The video backdrop reminded me of the heady days of the late 60s and especially the early 70s when both surviving members of the band had hair and there was an optimism abroad that this music might be the soundtrack to lasting and significant social change. It was poignant to see the video to their latest work still pre-occupied with the themes of war and social isolation that informed their best work of 30 years ago.

But it wasn't a lecture, a history lesson or a meditation on human frailty and duplicity, it was a storming gig and my ears are still ringing this morning with the joy of it.

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