Skip to main content

Quadrophenia tour brings out The Who at its best

As The Who prepares to wrap up the second leg of its Quadrophenia tour, one thing is for sure: The wait was well worth it.

The Who
Quadrophenia And More concert tour

Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville Conn.

By Pat Prince

As The Who prepares to wrap up the second leg of its Quadrophenia tour, one thing is for sure: The wait was well worth it.

Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey never did get to represent "Quadrophenia" properly on stage. After "Quadrophenia" came out in 1973, it was never performed to its fullest extent. Overblown performances (with guest stars) in the 1990s missed the mark. But this tour, however strange the timing all these years later, turns out to be the most worthy. The band's final U.S. concert on this tour will be at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 26, 2013, at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence, R.I.

The Who Roger Daltrey Pete Townshend

The Who's Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend perform during The Who "Quadrophenia And More" World Tour opening Night at BB&T Center on Nov. 1, 2012, in Sunrise, Fla. Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for The Who.

"Quadrophenia" is such a dramatic, multi-layered composition — it deserves to be performed in its entirety. And Pete and Roger gathered all the right musicians to support them (i.e., Pino Paladino on bass, an energetic Zak Starkey on drums and a wonderful contribution by Pete's brother Simon Townshend on guitar and vocals). It's a shame that Keith Moon and John Entwistle aren't here to share in the event, but they do get effective tributes — Moon in a pre-recorded "Bellboy" spot and Entwistle with a well-known close-up video bass solo during "5:15."

Charmer and favorite "5:15" does come off the most electric, perhaps the best, on this tour. But the underdogs, the under-appreciated songs, win the highest marks: "I'm One," Pete's diary-of-a-song, is the perfect example. He sings it with such smooth angst now, memories of adolescence still bubbling at the surface, and it is acoustically perfect live. It will stick with you after the rock opera is over, even through the night's encores of "Baba O'Riley" and "Won't Get Fooled Again" (classics songs that come off as going-through-the-motions — even though the crowd apparently prefers them).

Then there's "Sea And Sand" — a heartfelt, emotionally uncertain and lonely, cathartic giant of a song, sounding as fresh on stage 40 years later. It declares:

I'm wet and I'm cold
But thank God I'm not old.

And, yes, the remaining members of The Who are finally (relatively) old, but with this current performance of "Quadrophenia," they show an energy that hasn't been seen in years. Who needs another "Endless Wire" when you have something with so much more substance to perform to the masses — like a masterpiece that is timeless.