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Review Denver, CO, Tue, 14 November 2006

The Who ages well and not so well

Denver Post, 14-11-2006

It's impossible to see The Who in 2006 without a meandering mind. Will Roger Daltrey lose his voice while straining for those tough notes throughout "Baba O'Riley"? Or will Pete Townshend tear a rotator cuff, mid-windmill swing, during "I Can't Explain"?

Daltrey and Townshend are professionals, and nobody got hurt at The Who's show at the Pepsi Center on Tuesday night.

The band was touring the new LP "Endless Wire," and while the band played a tactful and truncated version of the record's mini- opera, the record's clear highlight, Tuesday's show was mostly about the decades-old hits.

The show was about Townshend, dressed in a dapper black suit, leading with the relentless electricity of his guitar thrashing in "I Can't Explain."

Daltrey followed that still-epic track with "Seeker" and "Substitute," both of which remain documents of the band's power but also serve as reminders of age's cruelty and unfairness.

The new "Fragments" followed immediately, showing an obvious change in style, especially tailed by a soft- around-the-edges "Who Are You," a uniquely tortured "Behind Blue Eyes" and a joyfully melancholic "Good Looking Boy."

The duality of seeing The Who in this decade, 24 years since the band's studio record previous to "Endless Wire," is a familiar one to any fan of classic rock. The music is still legendary. These are some of the most timeless jams in all of rock 'n' roll.

But the music lacks the wallop, the snarl of that fearless youthful confidence that created it.

Townshend's guitar work is still on-point but Daltrey is showing his age where it hurts the most - his throat, or lack thereof. Even the ever-influential backup vox from songs including "Can't Explain" and "Who Are You" lacked their old supporting punch.

At press time, Daltrey and Towns hend were playing the new ballad "A Man in a Purple Dress" as a duet before being joined by the band for "Mike Post Theme."

The songs, like the album they come from, are honest portraits of The Who circa right now. And while the music lacks a certain slug to the chest, this is a band that is performing at a higher level than its contemporaries.

Ricardo Baca, Denver Post Pop Music Critic