The Who at Pepsi Center, 2/12/13
Brandon Marshall Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend of the Who on stage at the Pepsi Center in Denver last night. Slide show: The Who and fans at the Pepsi Center
THE WHO @ PEPSI CENTER |2/12/13
Pete Townshend's first windmill of the night last night at the Pepsi Center came during "The Real Me." Seeing the famous windup in person is an entirely different experience from merely listening to Townshend's fretwork on the recordings, which is exciting and energetic in its own right. Live, though, you can see the passion and conviction in his face. This isn't the same band from the '60s and '70s that played with reckless abandon, obviously, but Townshend and company still offered a solid performance of some of the finest rock of the last five decades.
Brandon Marshall Pete Townshend of the Who on stage at the Pepsi Center in Denver last night. Slide show: The Who and fans at the Pepsi Center
The first section of the show comprised Quadrophenia in its entirety. The album was probably nearly impossible to reproduce live in times past without extensive personnel. But with samples, sequencing and integrating that all with a richly visual multimedia side, this presentation of the album in its live glory made for an impressive affair all around.
The remaining members of the iconic band seemed to embrace their past with a loving tastefulness: Through live footage and photographs of the band over the years, including its deceased original members, John Entwistle and Keith Moon, we were treated to a video collage of the band's own story told not in words, but images. During "Bell Boy," Moon made a bit of an appearance to do his vocals from behind the drum kit -- in film, anyway. No hologram, just an especially well-shot bit of footage of that song being performed shortly after the album's release.
Brandon Marshall Roger Daltrey of the Who on stage at the Pepsi Center in Denver last night. Slide show: The Who and fans at the Pepsi Center
Maybe the guys weren't exactly acrobatic and jumping around like the yobs of old, but Daltrey sang as though he was reconnecting with the emotions that informed the songs so long ago, while Townshend played with a focused intensity that gave his performance a conviction that many bands would do well to bring to their own material. The band was masterful (granted, probably also well practiced and experienced) in layering the sound and turning the dynamics precisely to flow with the music. They made it look easy.
Brandon Marshall Pete Townsend of the Who on stage at the Pepsi Center in Denver last night. Slide show: The Who and fans at the Pepsi Center
After the set of Quadrophenia songs, Townshend told us they wouldn't be doing a lot of skiing or hiking or smoking dope in the mountains this time around, but he said he remembered back when they did all of that, and he then went on to say that Denver keeps getting better and better and better and pointed our how lucky we are to live here. With that, he introduced the rest of the band, which included Scott Devours, who is filling in for the injured Zak Starkey. Townshend joked that Devours performed perfectly for the first show but that he's been fucking up ever since. For his part, Devours proved to be one of the most impressive performers on stage this night.