Let me start this review off with a question: Is there any better way to kick off a new month than seeing The Who live? If you’re not a Who fan, or dislike music and/or great things, don’t answer that. Thursday night, The Who dusted off their 1973 album and kicked off their 37 date Quadrophenia tour at none other than the recently renamed BB&T Center (previously the BankAtlantic Center). The two remaining members of the legendary rock band, Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, hardly disappointed as they lead the night through like the fuckin
The show went on in the order that the rock opera Quadrophenia calls for, but with the aid of some superbly edited video montages shown on the large screens behind the band, the imagery held a timeless strength. It directly paralleled the perpetual relevance and fortitude that The Who’s music holds to this day- a force that can only come from the raw and brute honesty that their often narrative albums carry. This was shown to us through loud speakers and HD videos Thursday night. During one of the most memorable moments of the show- a pinnacle you could say- when they performed the 7 minute instrumental composition entitled “The Rock”, the screens chronicled some of humanities greatest historical injustices. From Cold War armies marching to the Twin Towers crumbling, the poignant images stung as the the song reached it’s multiple climaxes. Like the band, they displayed things long past but sure as hell not forgotten. Also, it was kind of like the best history lesson of all time, (take note teachers of the world!)
The historical clips took us back to some more regretful times of our existence, but The Who didn’t leave us completely distraught. The epic that is Quadrophenia came with it’s own nostalgia, bringing with it grainy black and white footage of the band’s humble beginnings. In the words of my stepfather/concert companion, “It’s like you’re watching all the reasons they’re so damn cool right on the screen” It was true, seeing the band in their youth jamming out to the same songs we were hearing in all it’s ample quality was a pretty magnificent thing.
After playing Quadrophenia in it’s entirety and paying homage to both Keith Moon and John Enwistle, (R.I.P. rock and roll angels,) the band left the stage for a short break before returning for an encore. A good handful of this large audience left before they strolled back on stage, either because they didn’t quite realize an encore was in the future -really guys?- or as the lovely SFMO creator Lauren Perlstein commented, maybe it was past their bed times. With or without those sleepy grandparents, The Who came back to us and dipped into some of their long awaited hits. The first was the recently Glee-ified “Pinball Wizard”. Safe to say it was satisfying to hear it out of the original mastermind’s vocal chords rather than the sugary version shown on the theatrical sitcom.
During the second to last song though, (“You Better You Bet”) Townshend left the stage without warning, reportedly due to sound problems. It was remarked that the speakers were too loud, but the legendary guitarist has also developed some hearing difficulties recently which could’ve definitely played a part in his need to depart the stage. The band ended up closing the show without him, and they did so with the famous and explosive “Baba O’ Riley”. The gig ended slightly abruptly, but it being the first night of the tour, technical difficulties were easily forgiven. Throughout the night the crowd seemed well into the show, except for one guy who was actually on his LAPTOP throughout the night,(come on dude, REALLY?!?!). He had great seats too, and I bet there are tons of fans who would’ve given their left ear to be where he was. So yeah,that “fan” totally sucked. But in the end it didn’t really matter, because the power of The Who can outshine a laptop’s brightness any day.