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Concert review: The Who leaves it all onstage—blood included—during ‘Quadrophenia’ visit

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Watch that windmill! Daltrey (left) and Townshend, pre-injury.
Photo: Erik Kabik/ErikKabik.com

The Details

The Who
four stars
February 8, the Joint

It seems the decades haven’t dulled Pete Townshend’s windmill. The Who’s show at the Joint featured a few tense moments Friday night after the guitarist pierced his flesh on his whammy bar performing his iconic strumming-arm spin. The 67-year-old rocker scurried offstage with a towel pressed to his right hand, leaving his bandmates and the sold-out crowd in a state of confusion before returning a few minutes later (wearing a small bandage) to complete the group’s live rendering of Quadrophenia. “It’s a very difficult piece to play,” he later said of the 1973 rock opera. “No breaks, no space … no room to bleed.”

Daltrey

Daltrey

Townshend's brief departure and an expletive-laced rant by vocalist Roger Daltrey—he’s allergic to smoke, and apparently someone lit up—were the only notable hiccups on a night that reaffirmed The Who’s legendary live prowess. Backed by an eight-piece ensemble featuring two horn players, Pete’s younger brother Simon on guitar and Scott Devours, playing just his third show with the band on drums (regular drummer Zak Starkey is out with a tendon injury), Townshend and Daltrey presented Quadrophenia with force and fury. As hypnotic storyboards played on screens behind them, the two rock legends traded turns in the spotlight and on lead vocals, with both sounding strong and looking healthy.

Quadrophenia, The Who’s final masterwork, features fewer hit songs than 1969’s Tommy or 1971’s Who’s Next but feels best-suited for full-live treatment, loaded as it is with dynamic, compositionally creative cuts like “The Punk and the Godfather,” “5:15” and “Drowned.” The band sounded particularly potent on bookending instrumental overtures “Quadrophenia” and “The Rock,” cycling tightly through a mountain of quick-shifting material.

Townshend

Townshend

The Quadrophenia presentation also included recorded contributions from deceased Who members John Entwistle (the bassist who died in a room in the very same Hard Rock Hotel in 2002) and Keith Moon (the drummer whose 1978 death effectively ended the band’s classic era), on “5:15” and “Bell Boy,” respectively. And while some fans might reject a union of live sound with archival footage, the tributes to both men—during which Townshend and Daltrey turned and watched their fallen comrades onscreen—added undeniable poignancy to the proceedings.

Quadrophenia ended with its single-most arresting number, "Love Reign O’er Me," during which a now-bare-chested Daltrey once again confirmed the vibrant state of his freakish 68-year-old pipes. And then The Who dipped into its catalog for a handful of crowd-pleasing favorites, “Pinball Wizard,” “Baba O’Riley,” "Won't Get Fooled Again" and such. After what they’d already played it seemed like gravy. Or maybe a few extra drops of blood.

Setlist:

"I Am the Sea"

"The Real Me"

"Quadrophenia"

"Cut My Hair"

"The Punk and the Godfather"

"I'm One"

"The Dirty Jobs"

"Helpless Dancer"

"Is It in My Head?"

"I've Had Enough"

"5.15"

"Sea and Sand"

"Drowned"

"Bell Boy"

"Doctor Jimmy"

"The Rock"

"Love, Reign O'er Me"

"Who Are You"

"Behind Blue Eyes"

"Pinball Wizard"

"Baba O'Riley"

"Won't Get Fooled Again"

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Spencer Patterson

Spencer Patterson is Las Vegas Weekly's Managing Editor, having previously served as Arts & Entertainment Editor, Music Editor and a ...

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