by Michelle Harris
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by Tracey Wilmot
Back in ’79 thanks to the movie of the same name Quadrophenia was back on the shelves and broadening the brief mod revival scene as it was peaking. I was a 15 year old mod discovering the album for the first time and as a lone mod girl in a school full of punks and skins, I related to Jimmy’s story of the angst of youth, growing up and experiencing heartbreak and disappointment for the first time and the rebellious attitude of youth. It became my story too.
The Quadrophenia album was a celebration of the four personalities of the Who bought together in one iconic band brought to life in the character of Jimmy, each with their own unique contribution and with the story of mod captured eloquently within each track and movie scene.
So when I got the chance to see the Who perform the entire album again at the 02 in London I was as excited as any fan could be. Still a mod all these years later I arrive with a few faces from the ’79 era and take my seat sober swerving the bar, not wanting to forget a moment of this performance, which is no doubt a masterpiece. Daltrey sounds as good if not better vocally than he has ever done-still able to rock the stage and spin the mic with the acrobatic skills of a world class majorette! While Townshend’s windmill stance still reminds us of those My Generation moments of the bands earlier years.
The show, and indeed it is a show, is a blistering performance of every Quad track with a cleverly directed backdrop and a visual feast of all things mod, from Brighton beach, to The High Numbers and a reminder of the mods that were part of the original movement, all cleverly produced by Daltrey. The highlight of the night is the cameo appearances of “The Ox” Entwistle and his outstanding bass riffs along with Keith Moon’s Bell Boy vocals and drums. It felt like they were there with us all, and clearly the remaining duo still miss them as much as the audience who rose to their feet applauding in appreciation. The visual extravaganza was completed by Daltrey’s exquisite ensemble of the history of the world in one beautifully directed film that captured every moment that the world remembered from politics to natural disasters and the icons we remember from every decade, while the lighting was brilliantly choreographed, at several points the audience became part of the ocean when the tracks alluded to the sea while on stage the lights complemented every track with vibrant energised precision. Mind you if you were epileptic, flashing lights could have been a health risk. The band took time to talk about the old days, people missed, and as Townshend remarked “Back then we would sit on the beach wondering what the heel life was about-nothing fucking changes” The finale was a collection of old favourites such as Baba O’Reilly, Won’t get fooled again, You better you Bet, described as karaoke time by Townshend but had people on their feet dancing and singing in the aisles.
Also great to see Pete’s younger brother Simon Townshend on vocals, a talented guitarist in his own right and recently described by the band as the 5th Jimmy. You can catch Simon’s acoustic tour on his website at http://www.simontownshend.com/ The Who Quadrophenia tour continues for dates see www.thewho.com
by Lawrence Langenhan
I have never seen the Who live before and was blown away by the whole band. Daltrey is 69 and has the voice of a man half his age. The screen graphics were excellent – never seen anything like that before and it really added to the event.
My only grumble is when Pete moaned about having to do some of the old favourites at the end. I think it’s a bit disrespectful to all the fans that have put multi millions of pounds in his pocket over the years having bought all those old songs for him to say it’s “karaoke time again”, etc, etc. It’s those songs and the earnings from them that gave him the chance to do a vanity show like ‘Quadrophenia’ and he should understand the fact that the fans still love the classics – they come in the hope they are going to hear those songs again.
That said, the songs were performed flawlessly and with real passion and energy so I suspect, despite what Pete said, that he really does enjoy performing them again and seeing the fantastic reaction he gets from the fans.