Concert Review – The Who at TD Garden, Boston

But I know sometimes
I must get out in the light
Better leave her behind with the kids
They’re alright
The kids are alright

I recently wrote a post wherein I listed my top ten live concerts of all time. That list, as it turns out, was premature and – knowing I was going to see The Who – don’t exactly know what I was thinking. Because quite simply,this was one of the best shows I have ever seen in my life.

So I had to go back and revise that list and sadly, Jeff Back/Stevie Ray Vaughn have become an honorary mention and this show is now in the Top Ten, more likely in the Top Five. It was just an awesome, mind-blowing show.

In what I can only deem the world’s greatest oversight on my part, despite The Who touring the States some twenty times, I had never seen them. This current tour is called The Who Hits 50! and I tell you what, it sure didn’t seem like it.

Who

Anybody I’ve told about it says, basically A) are they still around? and B) they’re old so they must suck. Well, they’re very much around and they sound fantastic. I think the main word I’d associate with them is POWERFUL. Keith Moon was always a propulsive drummer. And for quite a number of years now, Ringo’s son (and Keith’s godson) Zak has been their drummer and he is a worthy inheritor of the crown.

The show was just big. And exciting.  And fun. We were about twenty rows back and they had a big crystal-clear central screen with two side screens. The sound was pristine, loud but not deafeningly so. First song? “Who Are You.” They started there? Hell, isn’t that supposed to be an encore or something?

I had read prior to the show that Townshend really doesn’t like touring or, for that matter, even playing live. Well, that’s bullshit. He was having a great time, talking a lot between songs, bantering with Daltrey. He kept teasing the crowd saying that every time he said “Boston” we’d cheer so he said it about 15 times and we cheered every time like the mindless louts we were.

Roger was in fantastic voice hitting all the high notes, the “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” scream, the whole works. Townshend’s voice sounded good but he struggled a little bit with the high notes. His guitar playing was solid as always but he didn’t really go outside the box playing-wise. (No equipment got smashed. It’s ironic that they used to smash equipment when they couldn’t afford it, now they can and they don’t).

My son Nick, a millennial, was pretty excited to go to the show with me. He’s not heavily into classic rock but he knows and likes a handful (Beatles, Hendrix, etc.) So this was a big, big deal for him. He couldn’t believe he was in the room with two guys who were playing to a couple hundred people in a small club in Shepherd’s Bush, London in 1964. Neither could I.

He asked me if there were any songs I didn’t hear that I would like to have. Yes, take out “The Seeker,” and “Join Together,” add in “I Can’t Explain,” “Magic Bus.” and “Substitute.” and voila, perfection. It would be nice too if they did some of the old R&B songs like “Young Man Blues,” and “Fortune Teller,” but you can’t have it all.

Side note: there was an opening act, a female bass player named Tal Wilkenfeld. As soon as she came out, we both recognized her. She played bass for Jeff Beck on a show recorded at Ronnie Scott’s in London. She’s basically a jazzer and has played with everybody. We really enjoyed her band and I think the crowd was appreciative and supportive. Good voice too. I described her music as heavy Lord of the Rings.

If you’re at all a Who fan, do not hesitate to see these guys. I can’t imagine any band playing as well as this or having so many great songs. Expect much microphone-swinging, guitar windmilling and teenage wastelanding.

Click on the bolded links below for a recent taste of them live. (It’s from 2015 but it’s the same tour. We were supposed to have gone to the show several months ago but it was postponed due to Daltrey having gotten sick.)

Setlist (No encore):

Who Are You
The Seeker
The Kids Are Alright
I Can See For Miles
My Generation
The Real Me
Pictures of Lily
Behind Blue Eyes
Bargain
Join Together
You Better, You Bet
I’m One
The Rock
Love Reign O’er Me
Eminence Front
Amazing Journey
Sparks
Pinball Wizard
See Me, Feel Me/Listening to You
Baba O’Reily
Won’t Get Fooled Again

Maximum R&B

21 thoughts on “Concert Review – The Who at TD Garden, Boston

    1. Thanks, man. I tried to somewhat convey what it felt like to be there. As to the setlist, agreed. And in addition to my few recommendations to Pete and the boys for changes, may I humbly add “Going Mobile? ” 😀

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  1. You are so very very fortunate to have gotten to see the Who live!! When I heard that the Who Hits 50 was coming around to my area, I really wanted to get tickets but couldn’t afford them. I hope to maybe see them someday though (like your son, I’m a millenial and it’s my goal to try to see as many of my rock heroes that are still alive as I can). And I had no idea that Tal Wilkenfeld was playing with them. I know someone who’s met her a couple of times and she’s such an incredible bass player.

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  2. Yeah my son couldn’t afford tickets either so I paid for them. Once in a lifetime opportunity for him, good bonding session for us. :-). One of the things I regret is how much ticket prices have escalated over the years. When I was a teenager, I could typically see three bands for less than 10 dollars. Granted tickets would go up with inflation. But they’ve gone way, way up for reasons I noted in my “Why You Can’t Get Tickets To See My Favorite Performers.” Anyway, thanks much for checking in.

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  3. It must have been awesome. I would add in 5.15, My Wife, Long Live Rock, Goin’ Mobile, Happy Jack, Boris The Spider, Squeezebox, I’m Free, Anyway Anyhow Anywhere, and Young Mans Blues.

    My vereion would be.newest to oldest like the Rush R40 concert. No opening band. Just The Who.

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    1. Yeah, so great. I can’t give enough credit to Zak Starkey. At one point he was just pummeling away furiously and it was driving the band like a locomotive. As to your song choices, I can’t argue with any of them. Just heard “5:!5” on the radio the other day. And I have always loved “My Wife.” Did that leave the setlist with Entwistle I wonder? As to no opening act, I see your point. On the one hand I enjoyed seeing Tal Wilkenfeld. On the other, another 1/2 hour of The Who would not have sucked.

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      1. I saw Rush R40 probably last time ever. It was all Rush and àll awesome. I saw Black Sabbath with an opener and wanted to hear so many other songs that were left off, so if it might be the last time for The Who, I want to hear another 0.5-1 hour more Who songs.

        Not knocking the opener, but plenty more chances to see her.

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      2. As for Starkey, I saw Queen, and Roger Taylor’s son Rufus Tiger Taylor (now in The Darkness) was even better than his dad, so it is nice to see a new generation of musicians following in their parents footsteps.

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  4. Yeah, how much do you wanna bet they have an opener just because they’re older and don’t want to play as long? Clapton has pretty much retired – at least from touring – and he’s about the same age as these guys. BTW, thanks for following. Hopefully you’ll continue to find some good stuff.

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  5. Great to read a review of this tour. I haven’t seen the Who live, mainly because of my own preconceived notions about such a veteran rock act, but I’d definitely love to go see them now.

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    1. Yeah I know what you mean. Bands can tend to lose it over time or wear out their welcome.And as much as I might love a particular band – and I do love the Who – I try not to let it blind me when a band starts to go downhill, concert or album-wise.

      And so, while seeing The Who cannot be what it was in the Moon/Entwistle days, it’s still pretty damn good.

      Thanks for following BTW. You may not like every post but I endeavor not to bore. 😀

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  6. It totally didn’t suck I’ll say that. My son was so blown away, not only by the spectacle of it, but by seeing such legendary guys. He’s not a devoted follower of classic rock but some bands he knows better than others. And so, he knew the Who reasonably well. It’s kind of a shame but back in the day I could see so many bands because it was like, 5 bucks. Now my son is lucky if he can see a couple shows per year of any kind of arena magnitude.

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