Rock Eyez

The Who / Pretenders

Arena at Harbor Yard

Bridgeport, CT



And then there were two…

This phrase kept echoing over and over in my mind. Through the years each group has lost a pair of key band members; granted it’s been decades since the untimely deaths of Pete Farndon and James Honeyman-Scott, but their absence can still be felt today. The newest incarnation of the PRETENDERS (featuring original members Chrissie Hynde and Martin Chambers) presented a crisp 50 minute set, delivering a nice blend from their new box set “Pirate Radio”, including FM hits (“Message Of Love”, “Back On The Chain Gang”, “My City Was Gone”) and some deeper album cuts (“Day After Day”, “Precious”, and Dylan’s “Forever Young”). Chrissie’s voice sounded just as great as you remembered, and the band was in fine form and good spirits. Hopefully they’ll continue to remain together and deliver some new material to their eager fans soon.

As for THE WHO, this was my first time seeing them since the loss of John Entwistle. Honestly, I was a little hesitant to revisit them; how could they possibly carry on without the Ox? But after a few years, I relented. Hell, look at the magic Page/Plant still possesses live, though also whittled down to a duo. At least THE WHO are still being creative, releasing a shimmering new studio CD, “Endless Wire” (their first since 1982’s “It’s Hard”); half-ambitious rock opera, half-classic rock radio-friendly cuts.

With the electricity igniting the crowd, the band simply tore through early opening numbers “Can’t Explain,” “Seeker,” and “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere.” Without catching a breath, THE WHO then proceeded to launch into “Fragments,” our first taste of new material for the night. The guys seemed tighter and more energetic than I last remembered, with Roger looking and sounding the ageless wonder he is. Pete seemed very relaxed and chatty, and the feeling that he sincerely enjoyed being there came through in his exemplary playing. He may not jump about as much or trash his instruments, but he still thrills with his trademark windmills and is always a captivating performer — even though he would sing surprisingly little lead this tour, “Eminence Front” not withstanding.

With all this “drama,” you have to wonder to yourself if these guys have anything left or would be able to reach that pinnacle which made SPREAD EAGLE a force to be reckoned with so many years ago. I was about to find out…

Zak, if possible, is becoming better and better. I feel he’s hands down the best drummer they’ve had since Keith. Although his playing is much more disciplined than Keith’s ever was, he seems to understand the need to keep it busy behind the open chords, something Kenney sorely lacked. Roger

Now, the crowd's enthusiasm did seem to ebb during the mini opera, which was politely well received, knowing they’d eventually get their payoff. And they did, with “Baba O’Riley,” which brought the full house to their feet, stomping and singing in unison. Playfully, Roger kept coming back to the last part of his harmonica solo again and again, not letting Pete finish the number… all good-natured fun, finally ending with a broad smile and a twinkle of the eye.

Simon sounded great, both playing and singing. Many times, I noticed him actually doing Pete’s vocal for him. Obviously, his voice blended perfectly with his brother’s voice. I really wish they would let him up front on the stage - I think the dynamic between the two could be wonderful.

A few more trips into the new album, “Man In A Purple Dress” being a sarcastic highlight, and then it was time to bring it home. Firing into “You Better You Bet,” “My Generation / Cry If You Want,” the band simply captivated the audience before climaxing with the blistering set closer “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” (The latter seeming more and more pertinent as the years roll on.) All in all, a pretty good set (although ignoring “QUADROPHENIA” entirely is debatable.)

The night’s encore consisted of a nice block of “TOMMY” material (“Pinball Wizard,” “Amazing Journey”, “Sparks”, “See Me Feel Me”) all culminating with “Listening To You,” seeing 8,000 people rejoicing in faithful ovation.

PeteWith the band retiring the stage to unending applause and adulation, only Pete and Roger remained to close the show. Seeming humble and appreciative, our departing serenade came with an intimate rendition of “Tea & Theatre.” A lovely way to end the evening spent with majestic rock royalty.

THE WHO yet again proved that there is still no better rock group on the planet when dissected to its most basic elements of primal scream and power chord.

Band Lineup:

  • Roger Daltrey - Vocals, Harmonica, Guitar
  • Pete Townshend - Guitar, Vocals
  • Simon Townshend - Guitar
  • Pino Palladino - Bass
  • Zak Starkey - Drums
  • Brian Kehew - Keyboards

Track Listing:

  1. I Can't Explain
  2. The Seeker
  3. Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere
  4. Fragments
  5. Who Are You
  6. Behind Blue Eyes
  7. Sound Round
  8. Pick Up The Peace
  9. Endless Wire
  10. We Got A Hit
  11. They Made My Dreams Come True
  12. Mirror Door
  13. Baba O' Riley
  14. Eminence Front
  15. Man In The Purple Dress
  16. Mike Post Theme
  17. You Better You Bet
  18. My Generation / Cry If You Want
  19. Won't Get Fooled Again

  20. Encore:
  21. Pinball Wizard
  22. Amazing Journey
  23. Sparks
  24. See Me Feel Me
  25. Listening To You
  26. Tea and Theatre


Official The Who website:

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