Pop: Still rocking after all these years
THE WHO SHEPHERD'S BUSH EMPIRE LONDON
Monday 27 December 1999
As well as a hard-earned reputation as the world's best live act (and loudest - Pete Townshend and John Entwistle are said to be as deaf as retired miners) they always had more ideas than their peers. Though they weren't always good ones. Pinball never did displace football as the national sport, no one knows what possessed Entwistle to sport a luminous skeleton suit at the Isle of Wight Festival, and you don't hear too many "rock operas" these days. But plenty has stood the test of time. Their brilliant, art-school yobbishness - caught forever in the definitive "rockumentary" The Kids Are Alright, all smouldering glances, self-analysis and smashing equipment - still serves as a template for parent-unfriendly musicians.
The chance to see survivors Daltrey, Entwistle and Townshend is irresistible to many - tickets were being touted at pounds 200. The trio may be in their fifties, but they didn't sound like it. Daltrey, dapper as ever, is in fine voice and Entwistle looks old and grumpy, as opposed to young and grumpy. Townshend hides his baldness under a skull cap. But, by the first instrumental break of the opener, "I Can't Explain", he was wind-milling frantically and Daltrey was swinging the mike through the air.
Sterling support came from John Bundrick, an organist and long-time collaborator, while the rejuvenating effect of a young drummer - Zak Starkey, Ringo's son - can't be underestimated. But the real star is Townshend. Even now, pretenders like Noel Gallagher and Steve Craddock of Ocean Colour Scene aren't fit to tie his shoelaces. His guitar crackled with electricity, notably on the funky "Magic Bus" and a superb "Who Are You?", scratching a 20-year-old itch. "Five Fifteen" was so powerful that the band didn't seem to know where to take it, the random, ragged element welcome in an age when musicians no longer know how to surprise each other in front of an audience.
A conclusive "My Generation", where Townshend demolished a guitar, proved that these prosperous stars haven't forgotten how they used to feel. Rumours abound that new material is in the offing, but this homecoming defied cynicism.
A version of this review appeared in some editions of last Thursday's paper
film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Rashida Jones speaks out against male-centric porn saying 'women should have sex and feel good about it'
Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
Game of Thrones really doesn't want Danny Dyer - EastEnders star rejected three times
Game of Thrones season 5 trailer: The first full-length look is here
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
25 years of Disney: How Darth Vader, Iron Man, Elsa and Pixar's geniuses helped the company conquer the world (again)
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account