British band The Who performed at the Consol Energy Center on Wednesday, March 16. The Who began its career in the 1960s, and stopped in Pittsburgh on “The Who Hits 50!” North American tour.
The concert was opened by 29 year old Australian bassist Tal Wilkenfeld and her band. Original members of The Who, Roger Daltrey, 72, and guitarist/songwriter, Pete Townshend, 70, were accompanied by Simon Townshend, Pino Palladino, Zak Starkey, Loren Gold and John Corey. It was somewhat larger than the founding The Who members, Daltrey, Townshend, drummer Keith Moon and bassist John Entwistle.
During the set change from Wilkenfeld’s set to The Who’s, a slideshow showed photographs and facts of the band’s history. Long portions of the slideshow were dedicated to Moon, who died in 1974, and Entwistle, who died in 2002. The band has produced 11 albums. Moon lived to see five of these released, and Entwistle, nine.
The Who played a 21-song set consisting of its most popular music. The band opened with “Who Are You” and finished with “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Fans heard songs that first played half a century ago. The audience laughed when Daltrey shrugged and smiled while singing the line, “I hope I die before I get old” from the song, “My Generation,” produced in 1965.
Some songs were accompanied by a brief history from Daltrey or Townshend. The audience heard Townshend relay an anecdote about how the beginning of “You Better You Bet” was written in Pittsburgh. While on tour in Pittsburgh, Townshend said to his then-lover, “I think I love you.” According to Townshend, the woman said, “You [expletive] better.” He said minus the curse, it became the beginning of his now famous song.
Fans of The Who recognized Townshend’s windmill-like arm rotation for guitar strumming, his signature move. Townshend’s other classic hallmarks, guitar smashing and high leaps while playing guitar, were not replicated. During a melody of the 1969 “Tommy” rock opera album, Daltrey met audience expectations by reenacting classic shows by twirling his microphone from its chord.
The concert was a multi-generational event. Children as young as six to audience members matching Daltrey in age were in attendance. The crowd danced, cheered, clapped, sang and cried during the performance.
One attendee who has gone to shows from both 25 and 50 year anniversary tours by The Who said, “I’ve gotten older, they’ve gotten older, but the music hasn’t aged at all.”
Wilkenfeld continues to tour with The Who on March 24 and 26 in Washington, D.C. and St. Louis, respectively. The Who have 18 more shows scheduled during its 2016 tour.