Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Who Hits 50

Forgotten Hits Reader Rich Turner sent us a review of "The Who Hits 50" show he saw down in Tampa, Florida, last week.  Sounds like he had a great time!!!

Just wanted to pass along a review of the opening night of the US leg of The Who Hits 50 Tour. The show was here in Tampa, Florida, at the newly renamed Amalie Arena on Tax Day, April 15th. 
In the words of Harry Carey, "Holy Cow!" I'm telling you what a show! I personally in the last 45 years have seen probably close to 1,000 concerts consisting of just about everybody in the classic rock and oldies category. I can get kind of jaded nowadays and it really has to take a special show to impress me, but WOW! I can easily slot this show into my Top 10 off all-time favorite concerts. 
In two hours and fifteen minutes and 24 songs, The Who put on a simply incredible performance. Yes, Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend are both 71 years old but you would never know it by their actions on the stage. They played with the power and energy of a lot of men half their age. The set list spanned their entire catalog of greatest hits starting with "I Can't Explain" from 1965 and going to "Eminence Front" from 1982. Something from every album released during that time span was played including five from the 1969 landmark rock opera Tommy. 
People wonder about Roger's voice and if he has lost anything from it and as best as I can tell, absolutely not. He even nailed the scream from "Won't Get Fooled Again." And no, there was no lip-synching going on. Everything you saw and heard on stage was performed by the band. 
And what a great band it was. 
You had Simon Townshend, Pete's younger brother on guitar, the great Pino Palladino, John Entwhistle's replacement on bass, Frank Simes, the music director on various instruments, two keyboardists whose names escape me (Sorry!), and Bobby Brady on drums. No, just kidding ... but that's exactly who it looked like, an adult Bobby Brady or so me and the people around me thought. He turned out to be Zac Starkey, Ringo's son, and boy, can he hit the skins! Did he make you forget Keith Moon? No, but he was excellent. 
And don't let me forget the man himself, Pete Townshend, switching back and forth from acoustic to electric guitar, jumping around on stage like a Mexican jumping bean (did I mention he's 71?) and still throwing out the trademark wind mills. 
Every tune played blew away the studio version of the song. A couple that really blew my mind (they were all great) were "I Can See For Miles", with a great extended chorus at the end and then perhaps the tour-de-force, from Quadrophenia, "Love Reign O'er Me." Roger Daltrey brought the house down with this one ... just an unbelievable vocal performance ... combined with a mind-blowing light show. When this song was done, Pete stepped to the mike and said, "I'm going to sing the next song while Roger tries to scramble his organs back in place." And the band quickly went into "Eminence Front," not one of my favorite Who songs, but it sure sounded great this night. Another latter-day Who hit that really hit home was "You Better, You Bet." Again not one of my favorite Who songs, but they ripped it up this night with a great audience sing-a-long.  
And let me mention the crowd ... about 15,000 people were here and just about everyone was standing for entire show, singing along, dancing, screaming, and fist pumping. And yes, most of the crowd was over the age of 50. AND LOVING EVERY MINUTE OF IT! 
The Who ended with five songs from Tommy including, of course, the "See Me, Feel Me" and "Listening To You" anthems and then concluded with show-stoppers "Baba O' Riley" and "Won't Get Fooled Again." Roger and Pete sincerely thanked the audience for coming and then departed with arms around each other. 
If this is perhaps the final Who tour, they are definitely going out on top. There was absolutely no going through the motions, no phoning it in, and no hey, let's get a paycheck and get the hell out of Dodge as so many bands that have been around for a while seem to do. This was simply a concert for the ages. 
As many shows as I've been to over the years (and I don't give out praise lightly) this one turned into something special. I've seen the Who several times before, including their 1982 "Final Tour" and this show blew that one out of the water. I was with five other people this night and after the show each person agreed that this was the best concert they had ever seen. I'm not going to go quite that far, because after you've seen as many shows as I have, its hard to pick a very best. But this is in the Top 10. Bruce Springsteen is still my go-to concert experience and, as far as I'm concerned, he can't be topped. 
If you are on the fence about going to see this show, do not hesitate, make the move and go. Yes, its a little pricey (our tickets were $150, but we were about 12 rows from the stage), but I can honestly say you will not regret it.  
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts opened the show with a very tight 45 minute performance of her greatest hits and a couple of new songs. And this was just three days before she was to be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. And that's all I will say about the Hall, Kent, other than I believe she whole-heartedly deserves the honor (along with about 50 other artists.) 
Rich Turner
Safety Harbor, Florida 
Attached are a few photos I took at the show. Feel free to use at your discretion.