The Who : Madison Square Garden, NY, NY 9/18/2006

New and old (well, except for the crowd who were just old), the two Who’s rocked the worlds most famous arena with a collection of “oldies,” but primarily relied on the rather younger songs. After putting out a “mini-opera” back in July, Townshend and Daltrey have begun to march forward, with plans to release a new album in the next month, offering the bands first serious output since 1982.

Bombastically opening with “I Can’t Explain” and projecting images of fallen bandmates John Entwistle and Keith Moon on eight gigantic video screens, the troupe blasted off. Supped up with Pete’s brother Simon on backing guitar, Ringo’s son Zak Starkey on drums, John Bundrick on keys and Pino Palladino on bass, the Who’s seemingly ageless sound flourished. The extra layers added depth to simpler tunes and managed to cover up some technical problems Roger was experiencing. Starkey’s drumming in particular is astounding, but in the end this is Pete and Roger’s show.

The expansive version of “Anyway Anyhow Anywhere” was revelatory, taking a tune they have played since 1965 and breaking new ground, opening it up and toying with its undercarriage – thrilling. The kaleidoscope sing-along accompanying “Behind Blue Eyes” had everyone in the Garden on their feet as did a well received “Eminence Front.” The new mini-opera “Wire & Glass” kept people enthralled and the middle movement, “Endless Wire,” had a nice country flare with Pete supplying vocals. Some of the other new songs such as the Elvis tribute “Real Good Looking Boy” and “Fragments” weren’t as successful, but the folksy Stockholm Syndrome of “Black Widow Eyes” was a real winner. Never afraid of selling out, the crowd got all CSI’ed for “Who Are You,” and the barn burning set closer “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” but the show stopper came in the form of one “Baba O’Reilly.” It’s keyboard tweaks and scratching solo from Pete amped up the crowd and the fiery harmonica playing from Roger got them stomping after the huge crescendo, the highlight of the show and one of the best arena rock anthems of all-time.

Pete explained the real reason for touring and recording new songs with a tongue-in-cheek, “Ca-Ching!” Sure, the two could have grown old long ago, but they are keeping things fresh, and with great accompaniment their live show holds up. There might not be any guitar smashing, but the windmills still twirl and within the “Tommy” fueled encore the microphone still spins, and those leaving the Garden had their ears ringing. Long Live Rock!

Setlist:

I Can’t Explain, The Seeker, Anyway Anyhow Anywhere, Fragments, Who Are You, Behind Blue Eyes, Real Good Looking Boy, Sound Round, Pick Up The Peace, Endless Wire, We Got A Hit, They Made My Dreams Come True, Mirror Door, Baba O’Riley, Eminence Front, Black Widow Eyes, Mike Post Theme, You Better You Bet, My Generation, Won’t Get Fooled Again

Encore: Pinball Wizard, Amazing Journey, Sparks, See Me Feel Me, Tea And Theatre

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