NOW my Dad has retired (and got nothing to do apart from the garden and bang on about how great UKIP are) he’s gone back 45 years to being a mod – well a part-time one anyway.
Two of the loudest cheers of the night went up as the band's deceased members popped up on screen, bassist John Entwistle and virtuoso drummer, borderline loon and professional piss-artist Keith Moon.
He’s bought himself a Lambretta SX200, he’s subscribed to a scooter magazine, he’s even gone and got himself a gang – not gang as in a Hell’s Angels maim and pillaging sense, more meet in the pub every now and then to talk about carburettors.
So it was only right that I should take him along to a concert at which every Mod, former Mod, wannabe Mod, Mod-wife, Mod-child, Mod-grandchild, and nearly every parka-owning bloke over 50 in the North West were going to, The Who’s Quadrophenia Tour at Manchester Arena.
Following on from the successful American leg of the tour, the band that formed in around 27AD are currently in the middle of a 14-date summer tour of the UK to celebrate the four decades since the release of their much lauded and emotionally rich magnus opus, the 80-minute rock-opera double album, Quadrophenia.
Having read a couple of lukewarm reviews from music writers over the pond I was a little concerned that the show wasn’t going to meet my monolithic expectations. Descriptions such as ‘vocally flawed’ and ‘dodgy’ had me worried. Luckily for me and the other 20,000 that packed into the arena, those indifferent remarks turned out to be complete and utter bollocks – whatever it is, The Who have definitely still got it.
Granted, the copious amounts of ale consumed pre-show may have blunted the edge of my critiquing sword somewhat, but they were fantastic, as close to flawless as two nearly 70-year-old rockers performing live can be. Townshend’s signature guitar windmilling was frequent, while Daltrey still swung his microphone with the menace and fervour of old, managing as always to avoid de-eyeing anybody (unlike Gary Glitter in 1996 who fractured Daltrey’s eye socket with a renegade mic – but that’s when Gaz was still performing and not spending all of his time in the market for Cambodian children).
Directed by Daltrey, the production values were as polished as the music. Giant screens behind the bulked out band (with eight members no less) flashed with impressive visuals, encompassing as much moddy iconography and world history as they could squeeze in. From flashing scooter headlights to the Vietnam war, from the RAF roundel to a grinning Bush and Blair. Two of the loudest cheers of the night went up as the band's deceased members popped up on screen, bassist John Entwistle and virtuoso drummer, borderline loon and professional piss-artist Keith Moon.
Played in its entirety, front to back, as it should be, the highlight of the night came as the instrumentals and spiritual crescendo of the rock opera, Love, Reign o’er Me swathed the audience in a euphorically received wash of nostalgia. Townshend’s guitar-playing was masterful, almost hypnotising, while Daltry’s vocals were surprisingly almighty (especially considering his multiple rounds of throat surgery over the years). The horns and keyboards backing the band gave the performance extra weight and substance; previously Quadrophenia had been notoriously tricky and frustrating for the band to fully convey on stage.
Polishing off the night, the band followed Quadrophenia with an encore of some of The Who’s and rock music’s greatest ever records including Pinball Wizard, Who Are You, Baba O’Riley and Won’t Get Fooled Again. The only disappointment was that My Generation didn’t make an appearance – having said that, with lyrics declaring ‘I hope I die before I get old’, it may make the lads feel, well... a bit daft. One thing’s for sure though, the music will never get old.
Follow David Blake on Twitter @david8blake
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