The Who: Quadrophenia & More
Liverpool Echo Arena
June 30 2013
“Hope I Die Before I Get Old” was the mantra of The Who’s classic My Generation, but judging by the 40 year old songs of the classic Mod-styled self analysis of a band, Quadrophenia, if there is one thing that’s sure it is that although the album’s composer, Pete Townsend, and talisman lead vocalist, Roger Daltry may age, there music certainly won’t.
Played before a near sell out crowd, this was an extraordinary night of power, passion and nostalgia, as images of late Who members John Entwhistle and Keith Moon not only appeared on three vast screens dominating the back of the stage, they also contributed from the beyond. Entwhistle “supplying” the iconic Bass line for the rage fuelled 5:15, whilst Moon’s idiosyncratic drumming style and man-in-the-street vocals were given full vent during the irony-laced Bellboy.
The entire album – arguably the band’s finest, despite the esteem lauded upon Tommy – was played from the opening, crashing waves of I Am The Sea and ear-splitting Can You See The Real Me, to the last notes of the extraordinarily beautiful Love Reign O’er Me, which remains as manifestly poignant today as it did upon its release in 1973.
The sea is a constant theme of Quadrophenia – as are the schizophrenic tempos of the songs and tunes the album puts forth – and if there is ever a band that have survived tumultuous upheavals reminiscent of a North Atlantic perfect storm, then The Who are surely it, what with their notorious affections for substances, indulgences and disturbance, both as a band and singularly.
None of this has ever been allowed to impinge on their writing however and, with the main thrust of the album being completed, it is more than admirable that – even when recognising the difficulty of performing what is ostensibly an hour and forty minute opera without a break, they still had the energy for more.
A superbly performed You Better You Bet, a masterful rendition of Baba O’Riley, the quintessential Pinball Wizard – always so much better with Daltry’s vocals, which tonight were absolutely faultless, than those of Elton John – and the ubiquitous Won’t Get Fooled Again were all driven out at Formula One pace with the undiminished thrust of a Tornado Fighter Jet.
Yet the highlights of the show remained embedded in Quadrophenia itself, particularly the laid back guitar and vocals of Townsend’s ingenious I Am One, with its great, deeply emotional of lead line of “Every year it’s the same, And I feel it again. I’m a loser, No chance to win” illustrating the split-persona of both the album and the band alike, whilst simultaneously chiming almost irreverently with Daltry grinding out with huge style and twirling microphone The Punk and the Godfather.
Just two of many moments that will live in the mind for an eternity and, if this should prove to be the last time The Who live it up on the road, then they can certainly say they went out on a legitimate high.
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