The Who Join Together With The Orchestra Band At Madison Square Garden (SHOW REVIEW/PHOTOS)

The Who brought their Moving On! Tour to Madison Square Garden on May 13. Accompanied by a massive orchestra, Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend and co. rumbled through a satisfying two-hour set full of hits and deeper cuts alike. And throughout, the rockers seemed genuinely appreciative about what NYC fans have meant to the band throughout their career, recalling stories of their shows like the Concert for New York City in the wake of 9/11 and their six-gig stand in 1996 built around Quadrophenia. “I feel like I’m coming to a second home — if not a first home,” Townshend said early in the set. Here are five things that stood out for the rock ‘n’ roll legends’ latest stop in NYC:

The Early Singalongs

The band wasted no time in getting the fans on their feet, with hits like “Pinball Wizard,” Who Are You” and “Join Together.” From the get-go, Daltrey and Townshend were in vintage form with the singer effortlessly swinging his mic and the guitarist windmilling for riff after riff. On “Join Together,” Daltrey strafed across the stage, extending the mic to the fans on the floor to sing along. With the dozens of orchestra members accompanying them plus the thousands of screaming fans, it truly was a moment to “join together with the band.”

The Tour Debut of a Classic Track

Around the midway point in the set at the previous stop on the tour, the band opted to play “The Seeker.” While the MSG audience didn’t get this track, instead The Who treated them to the tour debut of “I Can See for Miles.” With the house lights raised, Roger Daltrey’s vocals sliced through the arena, and you could see maybe not for miles and miles, but definitely far enough to view the crowd pulsing from the floor seats all the way to the rafters.

Roger and Pete Time

In the middle act of the set, dozens of the orchestra members briefly departed the stage, leaving various combinations of the core live band to perform onstage. Eventually it was only Daltrey and Townshend who shared the stage together. The two showed how they could capture the attention of a room filled with thousands of fans with just two songs, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and “Tea & Theatre.” On the former, Daltrey orchestrated a singalong, while Daltrey thrilled with his accelerated strumming on his acoustic guitar.

The Instrumental Showcases

No vocals, no problem. Instrumental tracks proved just as capable of showcasing the kinetic energy that the dozens of orchestra members brought to the table, from intro song “Overture” all the way to “The Rock” near the end of the set. The latter showcased the full might of the orchestra with powerful horns, swooning strings and a hammering drum beat and made for a perfect segue to the end of the set.

The Closing 1-2 Punch

The band saved a couple of their most powerful performances for the very end, with “Love Reign O’er Me” and “Baba O’Riley.” The former showcased the epic orchestral arrangements for the slow-burning track, led by keyboardist Loren Gold’s dramatic intro. And the latter turned into a massive crowd singalong. The lighting pulsed energetically to the intro to the song. At the coda, lead violinist Katie Jacoby took the stage front and center. Effortlessly speeding up, she strafed to Townshend, bobbing in sync with him to raucous cheers from the crowd.

At the very end, Daltrey bellowed to the audience, “All the ones smoking grass down in the front there … I’m allergic to that shit, and my voice just goes *schlurp*. So fuck you!” To his credit, he made it all the way through despite the smoke bothering him, and overall his robust voice carried throughout the arena. As he sang in “We’re Not Gonna Take It” earlier in the evening: “Hey you smoking mother nature / This is a bust.”

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3 Responses

  1. I was playing timpani in the orchestra that night and I don’t think words can capture what it’s like to walk onstage into that party of 18000 people . You know it’s going to be a great time for everyone there. The boYs in the band were beyond gracious and the 18000 or so fans were not disappointed . One of the highlights of my career in NYC.

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