As the overhead lights dimmed and the spotlights started to glow, the packed stadium erupted into applause for rock legend The Who on Friday at TD Garden. Peter Townshend, Rodger Daltrey and the other band members joining them for the tour walked on stage and began to play “The Real Me,” the first song from their album Quadrophenia. The album was released in 1973, but it was hard to believe it has about 40 years old while watching Townshend and Daltrey’s enthusiasm and spirit as they jumped around the massive stage.
Although the band did an amazing job with Quarophenia, it was hard not to imagine what the concert would have been like in the 1970s. However, the band seemed to embrace its age as the four massive screens behind them took the audience on a trip through history. The video showed the history of the band through footage of important events throughout their career, such as the wedding of Princess Diana and Prince Charles.
It also had some somber moments as well, such as when they covered the death of former band member Keith Moon. Current drummer Zak Starkey was fantastic on Monday night, but the video seemed to remind the audience that there is no substitute for Keith Moon, who is seen as one of the best drummers in rock and roll history. When Moon’s theme song “Bell Boy” played near the end of the album, a video of the live performance from 1974 with Moon singing played in sync.
The members of the band started out a little slow, but as the audience went insane and the album picked up, so did The Who. Daltrey undid his shirt as he danced around the stage, and Townshend started doing his classic windmill guitar move. Daltrey’s voice is not as great as it was during his prime, but even at 68, he still sang each song beautifully, with incredible soul.
The Who finished the album with “Love, Reign o’er Me” to the tremendous roar of the audience. Daltrey thanked the audience, his band members and Boston before diving into the encore performance.
When Daltrey started singing “My Generation” the audience went crazy. Although most people watching were older than 50, this song seemed to bring them back to their prime as everyone sang along with the band and danced with their husbands and wives. Just as it finished, the band went into “Pinball Wizard” followed by “Baba O’Riley” and finished with “Won’t be Fooled Again.” After Daltrey thanked his band members again, the other members exited the stage leaving just Townshend and Daltrey on stage to do one final song with the only original members left.
The audience quieted for the first time that night as Townshend and Daltrey begin to play “Tea and Theater” with only an acoustic guitar. Daltrey sang with lots of heart as he belted out each note. While the band no longer smashes guitars, and Keith Moon is no longer there to light his drum set on fire, they did something now that they couldn’t before. The Who transported the whole audience back in time through their music to a different era and the beginnings of rock and roll.