January 24, 2021

1979-12-10 – Chicago Tribune

1979 12 10 Chicago_Tribune_Mon__Dec_10__1979_

The Who. including from left, Kenney Jones. Roger Daitrey, and Pete Townshend. was in high gear at

the Amphitheater Saturday.

Photo for The Timon: by Flank Mendicino

The Who one of best of ’7 9 tours

By Lynn Van Metre

Rock music critic

IIOUGII 1979 HAS not yet slipped away, it is

safe to say that in terms of pop notoriety, the

Who will take that dubious honor easily:

Eleven deadin Ohio, trampled in the rush to
get inside Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati, where
the veteran British band headlined one week ago.
That sad and surreal tragedy is what a lot of people
will remember about the band’s first United States
tour in nearly four years. But the Who deserves bet-
ter than that. Purely in terms of pop performance, it
is one of the best shows to hit the road this year,
one of the few that could give live:show whiz Bruce
Springsteen a run for the money.

For the remainder of its current tour, of course,
unfair or not, it will be next to impossible for the
Who to be seen simply in those terms. Saturday
night, security Was uoticibly tighter outside the Am.
phithcatcr, and the doors opened early -- two hours
before" scheduled show time, with the concert (simul-
cost in several Chicago area theaters) starting an
additional half-hour late.

Finally, a bit after 9:30, the Who — augmented on
this tour by a keyboard player and a three—man horn
section -— took the stage and began its show in high
gear, winding things up about 2‘]: hours later. Along
the way, almost the whole of Who history came in
for its share of recognition, from “I Can See for
Miles,” one of the band‘s first single hits of the late
’605, through its immensely popular rock opera ‘
“Tommy,” about the pinball wizard turned messiah
and then pop pariah, and the less well received
“Quadrophenia,” to songs from their most recent
studio album, “Who Are You.”

SHORTLY AFTER that album was released. the
Who’s wildman drummer Keith Moon overdosed. '
While Moon was obviously a large part of the Who’s
stage persona, replacement Kenney Jones, formerly.
of Faces, fits in perfectly, with vocalist Roger Dal.
trey, guitarist Pete Townshend, and bassist John Ent-
wistle, carrying on more than competently without
trying to call to mind Moon’s more manic style. The
regrouping has brought about a rejuvenated and 1er
cally more mature Who, thoughjyrics always fight a
losing battle with Amphitheater acoustics —- and any-
way, it was the older songs that came across best
Saturday night, songs like “Pinball Wizard” and

“Won’t Get Fooled Again" and “My Generation,”
which still ranks as ‘a classic youth anthem.

But, it is the spirit the Who brings to its per-
formance that makes it so special. Like the title of
its current movie, “The Kids Are Alright," The Who
is alright and more; and though no longer “kids” in
terms of the calendar, Daltrey and Townshend in .
particular reflect a genuine love for rock and roll, a
kidlike enthusiasm which has nothing to do with age. .

Twirling the microphone on its cord, running in
place to the beat, Daltrey throws himself into the
proceedings with a joy that’s not only convincing,
but catching; Townshend, meanwhile, lopes and tub '

ches around the stage, his windmillng arm crashing
out heavy rock chords.

IT IS A snow that relies little on special effects,
with one exception -— a huge flash of flame that .
comes toward the end of the concert between a long
instrumental break and Daltrey’s beginning “Won’t
Get Fooled Again.” Coming as unexpectedly as it
does, the flash achieves the desired devastating ef-
fect, though the Who’s own energy output is just as
devastating on a more human level. Daltrey and
Townshend come across like cheerleaders for rock
and roll.

If the act is, when it comes to the seeming affec-
tion for the music and the transcendent moments

that rock at its best can offer, just that -- aq act :-
it really doesn’t matter.

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