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REVIEW: The Who/Echo Arena

It's not just the old farts going bonkers, says Mike Chapple

Written by . Published on December 13th 2014.

REVIEW: The Who/Echo Arena

A FEW months back Neil Young, with his band, Crazy Horse, turned in a blistering, two-hour-plus set while barely pausing for breath to an electric, sold-out house in Liverpool.

It culminated in the awesome opus Like A Hurricane and a screaming tsunami of feedback as Young meticulously deconstructed his guitar and strings as would a sadist pulling the legs off a cockroach.

Given that Moon and Entwistle have already passed on, in a spume of rock n roll excess, it's almost a miracle that they're still here at all

The crowd, many of whom had grown up waiting since 1973 for the grizzled Canadian renegade to return to the city, went wild. 

But it wasn't just the old farts going bonkers,  there were more than a few fair-faced youngsters, who still had their own hair, who joined in too.

Could it be a new generation so sick of being force-fed a diet of phoney MTV posturers and Simon Cowell manufactured drivel are suddenly waking up in wanting  to seeing the true greats before they disappear into oblivion?

Such a thought crossed the mind as The Who took to the stage to a rapturous reception from old and young alike.

The impudent mods of 50 years past have been replaced by two men supposed to be finally enjoying their dotage - and maybe after the end of this European/US tour to celebrate their half century as The Who, that's just what they'll do.

After this performance, though, you wouldn't count on it.

Today, at 70 and 69 respectively, Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend look in lithe, amazing nick.

Given that the other half of the band, Moon and Entwistle, have already passed on, in a spume of rock n roll excess, it's almost a miracle that they're still here at all.

But they are and, given that they have not seen eye to eye in the past, seem to be loving working together.

Townshend is all self-deprecating wise cracks - "This was written when  we were young and our brains were still working" - with lots of trademark windmill thrashes. He even tried to trash his instrument in time-honoured fashion but didn't do as quite a good a job as Mr Young.

Daltrey, however, is able to still deftly lasoo his mike 20 feet in the air without an embarassing calamity.

On the subject of lurve,  it seems they love us as well.

After blasting through the second number, Substitute, Townshend drawls in his crafty Cockney: "It's great to land at an outpost with an airport with the only proper name and be back in the centre of the known universe."

Daltrey also announces: "We always love coming here - it's had some of the best audiences."

Ahh, we love being stroked.

So the crowd duly purred over the greatest hits, Pinball Wizard, I Can't Explain, The Kids Are Alright, Behind Blue Eyes etc, etc, etc being greeted with mass singalongs.

They even squeezed in So Sad About Us, written by Townshend, for The Merseys. 

Daltrey's voice is still the powerhouse that it was and is pushed to full throttle on another great, I Can See For Miles.

The harmonies from backing band Pino Palladino, Pete's brother Simon, Frank Simes, Loren Gold, John Corey and our almost-very-own drummer Zak Starkey (who has long escaped the shadow of his dad) also adds extra depth to such compositions as a nine minute A Quick One, Townshend’s  first journey into rock opera territory. 

Hurtling towards the two and a half hour mark, the crowd was anticipating a thunderous anthemic ending - and it was made all the more welcome for its predictability.

See Me Feel Me, Baba O'Riley, Won't Get Fooled Again and perhaps one little surprise with old favourite Magic Bus to round it all off.

It was a magnificent marathon non-stop performance, which like Young's, showed that these old dogs will continue to howl and rage against the dying of the light.


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