Legacy bands, as they are called, that still tour go out every few years, play their hits, have a spectacular light show, maybe some different scenes on a big screen, and give the crowd what they want. Nothing is wrong with that, and for the most part it is what the fans want. However, The Who give their fans something they didn’t know they wanted when they tour along with still putting out new music while their contemporaries usually just ride along on the old catalog. The Who was and is always beating to a different drum compared to other bands.
For their latest tour, The Who Hits Back!, the Who once again brings an orchestra to add more depth and sound to their songs. Some songs were recorded featuring orchestra instruments to begin with, but songs like “Baba O’ Riley” hit differently with this added layer. The first six songs played were taken straight from Tommy, and were in exact order as the album but featured the orchestra conducted by Keith Levenson. A special moment happened at the end of “We’re Not Gonna Take It”. A fan held a sign up that said I will donate $500 to Teen Cancer America if Pete would sign my Who record. Pete responded with that he will sign the album but will then donate $1 million dollars to Teen Cancer America. Teen Cancer America is an organization started by Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend that help support teens with cancer. Once again, the Who prove they are not like their contemporaries even outside the music. The fan did get his record signed, and not just by Pete but everyone, and he did in fact give an envelope with $500. He would later say that two months ago his wife passed away from cancer, but the show gave him strength.
The Who would continue through more songs with the orchestra like “Who Are You”, “Eminence Front” from It’s Hard which will see a re-release on Record Store Day June 18, “Ball And Chain”, and “Join Together”. After that set, the orchestra would break and just The Who would perform four songs, just like they did during the Moving On! tour. A personal favorite, “You Better You Bet”, was showcased and it’s always great to hear live. For the third set of the night, the orchestra rejoined and this set featured five songs from Quadrophenia, another rock opera by The Who where adding an orchestra seems natural. Closing the night was “Baba O’ Riley” where violinist Katie Jacoby came center stage and perform the violin solo flawlessly. Katie has been performing with the Who for years now and at this point I don’t think anyone could imagine hearing “Baba O’ Riley” without her. The band would thank the crowd and the players and end the night with their signature saying, “be happy, be healthy, and be lucky.” Another tour in the books for the Who and it goes without saying that they don’t need these big, crazy stage productions. The Who go out and perform the music, and they perform it well. They also don’t just perform the hits over and over, but always give the fans something different. Maybe they have one more tour in them, and if they do, I guarantee it will be loud, it will be a great performance, and it will be better than any other rock show out there.