The Who Goes Symphonic In Grand Rapids
The Who kicked off its 2019 "Moving On!" tour last night (May 7th) in Grand Rapids, Michigan at Van Andel Arena. The show, which is the first full-scale official show Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey have performed as the Who with an orchestra, was split into three parts -- with an opening set including a substantial portion of Tommy, along with such classics as "Who Are You," "Eminence Front," "Join Together," as well as the Who's live debut of their 1975 fan favorite, "Imagine A Man" from the band's The Who By Numbers album.
A band-only set followed, highlighted by an acoustic reading of "Won't Get Fooled Again" and a return of the 2006 Endless Wire standout and acoustic show-closer, "Tea & Theatre."
The third portion of the show, welcomed back the orchestra and tackled key tracks from 1973's Quadrophenia, before the band closed the concert with "Baba O'Riley" -- a number that has only recently been pushed to the encores and now, for the first time, is serving as the band's finale.
With Tommy becoming such a mainstay of not only the Who's career -- but of all of classic rock radio -- Pete Townshend was asked about the reason for the album's continued relevance exactly 50 years since its original release: "I think it’s only really relevant today, in as much as it was relevant to start with. It’s a fairly simple childlike fairytale. And what makes it work today, I think is its naivety. It’s not all naive, it’s not innocent. It has fantastic simplicity."
Roger Daltrey told us that singing the Tommy material completely freed him creatively -- both in terms of how he sang and performed in front of an audience: "It means the same to me, I'm just trying to explain to people that I never saw 'Tommy' as an individual. I sang Tommy from the inside, I'm an emoter. So Tommy to me was always my inner journey. It was the journey of my spirit. Y'know, the human condition."
Pete Townshend feels that on nearly every level, Quadrophenia featured the Who band at their best -- including his finest hour as their leader and primary songwriter: "My pop songwriting method is most elegantly landed in Quadrophenia, which is, y'know, this thing of creating a turn-key -- they offer you an apartment and you walk in, you have a key, you turn the key, you walk in and everything that you need is there; the beds, the linen, the cups, the saucers, the cutlery -- that kind of thing. I wanted to write songs which -- and be in a band, as well -- where audience members felt they could occupy and inhabit. It belongs to (laughs) them. And I think that with Quadrophenia, I kinda pulled that off as well as I've ever done it, I think."
The Who's opening night setlist on May 7th, 2019 at Grand Rapids, Michigan's Van Andel Arena:
"It's A Boy"
"The Acid Queen"
"We're Not Gonna Take It"
"Who Are You"
"Imagine A Man" - Live debut by The Who
"The Kids Are Alright"
"Won't Get Fooled Again" - acoustic
"Behind Blue Eyes"
"Tea & Theatre"
"The Punk And The Godfather"
"Love, Reign O'er Me"