BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER
There’s not a lot of bands out there that can still fill arenas around the world in spite of only putting out two new studio albums in the past four decades. But you can certainly count The Who on that shortest of lists.
Soldiering on after the death of their iconic and exuberant drummer Keith Moon in 1978 while still at the peak of their powers, and more recently the passing of bassist John “The Ox” Entwistle in 2002, The Who have overcome both the loss of half of their original band in addition to other tragedies to continue being relevant well into their sixth decade. Accompanied by a 48 piece orchestra, founding members Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey and company are preparing to appear at the SAP Center in San Jose on October 24th as part of their Who Hits Back! tour.
Ten years after helping to bring the 2012 London Olympic Games to a close on their home turf, and 13 years after headlining the Super Bowl halftime show, the iconic English rock band last embarked on a major tour following the 2019 release of “WHO,” their first new album since 2006.
Daltrey and Townshend, both now in their late-70’s, have clearly rejected the “Hope I Die Before I Get Old” theme of their seminal break thru hit “My Generation” in exchange for educating yet another generation of fans to one of the most influential bands of both the 20th century and rock history.
Townshend is a songwriting genius, having written hundreds of songs and concept albums including a majority of both the magnum opus Tommy in addition to Quadrophenia and 1971’s Who’s Next, an innovative hard rock classic on most critics short list as one of the greatest albums of all time.
With just a month remaining on a North American tour that could be their last, recent reviews indicate that the band continues to perform a vintage two hour setlist at the highest level that few others from their era beside Paul McCartney and The Rolling Stones can come close to matching.
The addition of Zak Starkey (Ringo Starr’s son and the bands primary drummer since 1994) and guitarist Simon Townshend has went a long way towards supplementing any missing bombast from days long gone by. Also, striking lighting displays in addition to theatrical video montages both pay tribute to the bands history and provide a timeline of the last half century with sometimes psychedelic images ranging from Richard Nixon and Princess Diana to the more recent carnage of 9/11 and Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
Performing hits ranging from “Who Are You” and “Love, Reign O’er Me,” to “You Better You Bet,” “Behind Blue Eyes,” “Pinball Wizard,” “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and “Baba O’Riley” to an introduction of their newest material should surely be incentive enough to catch a few more Daltrey microphone twirls and signature guitar windmills by Townshend for any true fan of rock.
It’s not often that the excitement level at the SAP Center comes close to exceeding that of a Sharks game, but October 24th promises to be a rare opportunity to take in one of the last performances of this legendary band. Just don’t forget your earplugs for what is guaranteed to be both a high energy and high decibel performance.
As if any additional motivation was needed to take in the show, another great band, The Dirty Knobs, are scheduled as an opener of the highest quality. Led by Mike Campbell, Tom Petty’s right hand man as lead guitarist in The Heartbreakers for over forty years, the band has released a pair of gritty rock albums since their debut in 2020 and are guaranteed to please any fans of the late rock great. In addition to their own material, Campbell and his band have also been known to sprinkle their sets with a handful of Heartbreakers songs in addition to other classic rock covers.
Tickets for The Who’s October 24th performance at the SAP Center are available at Ticketmaster.