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The Who review: Rock legends growing old disgracefully

Odyssey Arena, Belfast

By Michael Conaghan

Published 22/06/2015

The Who’s Roger Daltrey playing at the Odyssey last night
The Who’s Roger Daltrey playing at the Odyssey last night

"This is where it all ends," declared Pete Townsend at the Monterey Festival before leading his band into an especially destructive version of My Generation.

Nearly 50 years later, talk of endings is in the air again, though there has been some equivocation as to whether this is indeed The Who's last tour.

Certainly, their previous visit to Belfast in 2013 with Quadrophenia showed a band still capable of delivering a considerable wallop, despite the loss of two seemingly irreplaceable members in Keith Moon and John Entwistle.

But last night the set roamed through much of their back catalogue, confirming that what they always have been - a great singles band.

So opener I Can't Explain sounded as spotty and stroppy as ever; Who Are You? has a glorious messiness it never managed to capture on record, and I Can See for Miles is a revamped howitzer they cunningly followed with My Generation.

If Townsend doesn't smash his guitar these days, he certainly gives it a severe talking to, aided initially by Roger Daltrey foregoing the microphone-twirling for some sterling acoustic work. These are great songs played with a verve few bands could match, ever, with Zak Starkey proving himself to be the best Zak Starkey-style drummer on the planet while driving that old stomper Join Together.

The Who were never known for their brotherly love - "The band get on appallingly," Townsend once confessed - and Daltrey and Townsend bickered like a foul-mouthed but affectionate married couple before introducing a selection from rock opera Tommy.

It seemed a suitably elegiac way of reflecting on a wonderful career and saying goodbye to a band whose like we'll never see again, at least until the Strypes grow up a bit. The dads are alright.

Five stars

Belfast Telegraph

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