British rock icons The Who made the fourth stop on their The Who Hits 50 North American tour last night at Raleigh's PNC Arena. They brought nothing but the classics, as Pete Townsend noted during the evening, "they're all fucking old."
They kicked things off with "I Can't Explain" and the hits kept coming with "The Seeker," "Who Are You," I Can See for Miles" and so many more. The band sounded fantastic backed by long-time rhythm section Zack Starkey on drums (yes, Ringo's son) and Pino Palladino on bass as well as a few other players.
Even though Daltrey and Townshend are 71 and 69 respectively, they both play and sound fantastic. The both shined during their brief dip into a few songs from Quadrophenia. Townshend took lead on "I'm One" and Daltrey belted out "Love, Reign O'er Me" with incredible ferocity. It seemed that as the night progressed, there was a direct correlation between the sheer intensity of Daltrey's voice and the number of buttons he undid on his shirt.
While the night overall was a stellar, a few songs fell a bit flat. The classic "The Kids Are Alright" was slowed down and bit and lacked its 1965 pep. "Magic Bus" was another odd one out during the night. It's a big hit and sounded okay, but its wispy sound just didn't seem to work in a big arena.
The "newest" songs the band played during the set were two songs from the early 80s, the poppy "You Better You Bet" and the funky Townshend-led track "Eminence Front." Both were great inclusions in later half of the set to lighten things up when the vibe got a little heavy.
The band tested the crowd's patience a bit with the mini-opera "A Quick One (While He's Away)," but those who didn't take the opportunity to take a bathroom break were rewarded with a fantastic treat of the band's earliest foray into rock opera.
The Who didn't take a break for an encore break and played through, closing the night with some of their most energetic and biggest hits, "Pinball Wizard" with "See Me, Feel Me," "Baba O'Riley" and "Won't Get Fooled Again." It was certainly enough to get the crowd amped up and buzzing and they filed out of the venue.
The Who have said that their 50th anniversary tour will be their last big tour (they've said that before) and considering their age, this could have been their last stop in the Triangle. Hopefully you made it to the show if seeing the band was on your bucket list like they were on mine, because they made it a night to remember.
Not to be left out, newly inducted Rock and Roll of Fame member Joan Jett and her band The Blackhearts opened the show with a short, tight set of hits that got the crowd amped up. She came out swinging with "Bad Reputation" and "Cherry Bomb" and also dropped in a few covers into the setof Gary Glitter's "Do You Wanna Touch Me" and Tommy James and The Shondells' "Crimson and Clover."
Of course "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" was in the set and got the arena singing along, but the real barnburner came in the form of the band's closing number, "I Hate Myself for Loving You." Jett is a force to be reckoned with and still has all of the attitude and grit that made her one of the first pioneers of female rock.
The Who set list
I Can't Explain
Who Are You
The Kids Are Alright
I Can See for Miles
Pictures of Lily
Behind Blue Eyes
You Better You Bet
Love, Reign O'er Me
A Quick One (While He's Away)
See Me, Feel Me
Won't Get Fooled Again
Joan Jett and The Blackhearts set list
Do You Wanna Touch Me
You Drive Me Wild
Light of Day
Love is Pain
The French Song
I Love Rock 'n' Roll
Crimson and Clover
I Hate Myself for Loving You