The Who in Hamilton: Brilliant
(CBC Hamilton welcomes guest columns from the public. Terry Ott is a Hamilton resident and freelance journalist who has been a fan of The Who for more than four decades. He went to see The Who in Hamilton on Feb. 19, wondering whether the show could erase 38 years of regret over not seeing the band live in the '70s. Here's his review.)
One word: Brilliant!
Not perfect, mind you — there were some mic and voice gremlins for Roger Daltrey, and the sound mix was a little too bright and loud.
But then again, when a band has been performing together for 49 years and is nearing the end of a grueling tour, and could just as easily have mailed this one in, Daltrey and especially Pete Townshend gave 11,000 very enthusiastic fans at Copps Coliseum more than their money's worth with a spirited two-and-a-half hour show.
The band was working with a very proficient three-piece horn section as well as three keyboards, Townshend's brother Simon on lead guitar, and the most magnificent Zack Starkey on drums (yes, Ringo's son).
With this fabulous backing, along with five video boards, The Who gave a thoroughly credible and vigorous rendition of the iconic Quadrophenia album in its glorious entirety, along with 45 minutes of other band hits to round out the raucous show.
Townshend's wind-milling and pulverizing power chords had the mixed crowd of young and old on their feet again and again.
Even though Quadrophenia was the focus, the most passionate response came, interestingly, during a smokin' take of Pinball Wizard from Tommy, as well as when Daltrey managed to nail the scream during Won't Get Fooled Again after having his voice fall a little short a few times before.
Yet the real story for me was the enormity of Townshend's talent, which was on display for those lucky enough to hear and see it.
Here is a near 70-year-old rock musician who has consistently pushed the boundaries of the genre over a half-century career, and yet you will not usually find Pete on the top-10 lists of music and pop culture critics — and God only knows why. Quite simply, Townshend is a musical genius ... and a seriously excellent guitar player and song composer.
If there is such a thing as a Renaissance man in pop music, Townshend is surely he.
So, for me, the culmination of a wait of about 40 years to finally witness Quadrophenia and the lads in the flesh was not a letdown. Far from it, mate.
But though this latest Who tour is not being billed as a "farewell," it certainly had the feel of one.
For instead of a regular, almost de facto encore, we were left with just Pete on acoustic guitar and Roger almost crooning a rather melancholy ode that nonetheless received thunderous adulation as Daltrey told the delirious throng, "be happy, be healthy ... and be lucky."
And certainly, those of us there last night were very lucky, indeed.