The Who play Quadrophenia at Target Center, 11/27/12
And the Who's two survivors are working themselves closer to death every time they put on another two-plus hour performance. Each bloodcurdling wail from Daltrey's larynx was an added risk he took that he'll never speak again, and each twirl of Townshend's right arm a possibility that the rotator cuff could give way and send his limb flying into the crowd. It's a little like watching the veteran NFL running backs suiting up and finding ways to get it done long after their knees have been permanently disfigured. Was there an added thrill in seeing them give these lifelong stunts another go with these perils in mind? Of course.
Were there times also when the idea of something less ambitious, less Who-like seemed more humane? Sure. Until the punch of "I've Had Enough" and "5:15," the set notably lacked in energy. This was in spite of the tireless drive of Simon Townshend, Palladino, Starkey. In order to have something left to give for the opera's finale of "The Rock" and "Love, Reign Over Me," these were the concessions made.
|Photos by Steve Cohen|
And yet, these gents have been too proud to let Quadrophenia be the only offering of the night. With no real break, they pounded out "Who Are You" as the first of a six-hit coda, which included one of the only props of the whole night, a rotating stool for Townshend for his soloing. After a tender acoustic "Behind Blue Eyes" a brief speech from the guitarist followed, and he mentioned that he was disappointed that there was no snow in the Twin Cities, blaming global warming.
Cheers of recognition streamed through once the first chord of "Pinball Wizard" emerged, and this was Townshend's most physical playing of the entire night. Daltrey had his work cut out for him as "Baba O'Riley" and "Won't Get Fooled Again" followed. There were some notes missed, but that "YEEEEEEEEAH" that has become a staple of CBS procedural crime dramas was there when he needed it.