The Who – Nationwide Arena – 5/15/15 – review
I saw the Who back in 1989…and they were old then. That was the infamous “ahhh, my ears” tour, when Pete Townshend played behind a sound-proof wall to protect his hearing. Needless to say, my expectations weren’t terribly high. Here’s the amazing thing – the Who were actually better 26 years later.
Sure, there were times when the band showed their age. They opened with a lumbering version of their first hit, “I Can’t Explain,” while “Who Are You” just sort of laid there. Roger Daltrey struggled through “Behind Blue Eyes,” then forgot the words to “My Generation.” Yet, after a few songs, everything fell together. A medley of highlights from Tommy, including “Amazing Journey” and “Underture,” was played with a ferocity that would make the Foo Fighters jealous, while Townshend showed off some incredible guitar chops on a searing run through of “Eminence Front.” And, even Daltrey surprised on a passionate take of “Love, Reign O’er Me,” which was far better than the version I saw 26 years ago.
There were a few surprises in the set list – “You Better, You Bet,” “The Seeker,” and especially the 10-minute, mini-opera “A Quick One (While He’s Away).” The great backup harmonies helped cover any imperfections of both Daltrey and Townshend, while Ringo’s son, Zak Starkey, filled in amicably on drums. The show closed with a ragged version of “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” which featured a piped-in Daltrey scream at the end. But, who cares? This is a band that released an album called Who’s Last…in 1984! The fact that they’ve stuck around this long is testament to their stubbornness to not go away quietly.
The show opened with a surprisingly solid set from the ageless Joan Jett & the Blackhearts. Her 40-minute show was full of classic punk attitude like “Do You Wanna Touch” and the Runaways’ hit “Cherry Bomb.” She looked and sounded great, and got the crowd into it with her closer, “I Hate Myself For Loving You.” —Tony Peters