Even 40 years after its release, The Who’s Quadrophenia still resonates with many as one of the finest rock albums of the Twentieth century. However, as much as this album was a masterpiece, it never really cut it live in 1973 due to the lack of technology to pull it off and the spiraling mayhem surrounding their drummer Keith Moon, who often wasn’t fit to play such taxing music. Now it’s 2013 and they are back to give that album the live treatment that it so clearly deserves. The love for the band and Quadrophenia is apparent this evening from my walk to the LG Arena as I see people of all ages dressed in The Who t-shirts and mod inspired clothing, with some even pulling up in the car park on retro 1960s style scooters. Clearly nostalgia is in the air even before the concert has begun.
After a successful warm up from the support act; American blues-rock kings Vintage Trouble, the spotlight fell to the two surviving members of The Who; Roger Daltry and Pete Townsend. They were also joined by regulars Simon Townsend (Pete’s brother) and Pino Palladino, along with six more touring musicians covering brass, keyboards and drums. As the band began their two and a half hour set compromising of Quadrophenia in its entirety and several of their greatest hits, Townsend kept a constant air of coolness around him as Daltry was as energetic as ever, swinging his mic around with such vigor that I half expected it to go flying off into the audience.
For many of the older people watching, it was a trip back down memory lane as clips of the band along with snippets of news from throughout their career were played on circular screens dotted around the stage. These screens and musical trickery also played a valuable part later in the show when, as if by magic, Daltry and Townsend’s deceased band mates John Entwistle and Keith Moon made their mark on the night; Entwistle playing his bass solo during 5:15 and Moon providing vocals for Bell Boy. Both resulted in the biggest cheers from the audience all night, providing a fitting tribute to John and Keith.
After a seamless rendition of Quadrophenia, a football stadium-esque chant erupted of “we are the Mods!” to which Daltry answered with a quick witted “No… You were the Mods. Help the aged anyone?” After some order was restored to the audience, the band thanked everyone for coming to see them instead of the Rolling Stones at Glastonbury, before bursting into their last act; the greatest hits. Who Are You, You Better Bet, Pinball Wizard, Baba O’Riley and Won’t Get Fooled Again left everyone happy, before Townsend and Daltry (clutching a humble cup of tea) were left alone on stage as they performed a spine-tingling finale of the beautiful acoustic track Tea and Theatre.