GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — There aren’t many bands with the unadulterated music innovation and volatile sound produced by The Who’s Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, Keith Moon and John Entwistle. Through all of their trials and tribulations, frontman Daltrey and Townshend remain a dominant force in the music industry, defying the test of time.
The remaining original members of The Who recently honored Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with their explosive sound and overwhelming stage presence. Still prowling around on stage twirling his microphone, Daltrey reminds us just how authoritative their teen anthems were, and quite frankly, still are. Townshend is still spot on with his signature windmill guitar move.
The Who played a prominent role in the British Invasion in the mid-1960s and their dominance, even if it didn’t come as quickly as the likes of the Rolling Stones and The Beatles, eventually found their niche audience and their live performance and album sales catapulted.
The Who still thrives on their live performances, clearly indicated when walking onto the stage and belting out “Can’t Explain,” “The Seeker” and “Who Are You.” In a more reflective moment, The Who dedicated “The Kids Are Alright” as an homage to the late singer Chester Bennington of Linkin Park and Stone Temple Pilots.
The roller coaster ride never stopped as favorites like “I Can See For Miles,” “My Generation,” “Behind Blue Eyes,” “Join Together,” “Your Better You Bet” and “Pinball Wizard” are just a handful of the 21-song setlist.
Townshend even tapped into the pop cultural Miami Vice era, playing the nostalgic 1982 hit “Eminence Front,” which he feels most bands mock others “as sellouts” for creating music for television shows and movies. However, the commanding intro has been used by countless sports teams and athletes as the introduction pieces.
One of the most reflective parts of the evening came during “Love, Reign O’er Me” as compelling images beginning with Vietnam, to the devastation of Sept. 11 to modern day chaos and disorder filled the gigantic screen that stood as the back drop to the show.
Without a doubt, the evening came to a close with arguably the two greatest and most effective songs to shut down a show: “Baba O’Riley” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”
At their peak, The Who were one of rock's most innovative and powerful bands and their consistency, moxie and euphoria shows absolutely no signs of slowing down after five decades.