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BOSTON – Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend pulled out all the stops Monday night at what might have been The Who's final New England performance.
"The Who Hits 50!" tour, which has been billed as the band's last large-scale trek, had been slated to stop at the TD Garden back in October. However, Daltrey's bout with viral meningitis forced the duo to postpone the second leg of the U.S. tour marking their 50th anniversary.
While there is no denying the passage of time, Daltrey, 72, can still howl remarkably and Townshend, 70, continues to attack his guitar with the fury of an angry teenager.
Daltrey and Townshend opened the two-hour concert before a packed arena with their 1978 hit "Who Are You," better known to a younger generation as the theme from television's "CSI."
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famers gave a 21-song overview of their career with tracks spanning the period from their 1965 debut LP "My Generation" to 1982's "It's Hard." Regretfully, there were no selections from The Who's last studio effort, 2006's "Endless Wire."
Townshend sang lead on "Eminence Front" and "I'm One," while Daltrey handled the vocal chores for the remainder of the night, save for two instrumentals: "Sparks" from the rock opera "Tommy" and "The Rock" from "Quadrophenia." The two were backed by the crackerjack team of drummer Zak Starkey, bassist Pino Palladino, guitarist Simon Townshend and keyboardists Loren Gold, John Corey and Frank Simes.
In introducing the nearly 50-year old "Pictures of Lilly," Daltrey told the crowd that The Who was once a "boy band," a bit of a fib since neither Daltrey, Townsehnd, nor late bandmates Keith Moon and John Entwistle ever projected the harmless aura of One Direction.
Daltrey, who has battled vocal problems over the past decade, was in fine shape, rattling the arena with the powerful "Love Reign O'er Me."
Townshend has lost none of his swagger or arrogant charm. After Daltrey thanked Boston throat specialist Dr. Steven Zeitels who saved his voice years ago, Townshend gave a shout-out to his proctologist.
The Who offered four selections from the landmark rock opera "Tommy" before closing the night with "Baba O'Riley" and "Won't Get Fooled Again."
Opening for The Who was Australian bassist Tal Wilkenfeld. The 29-year-old who has played alongside Jeff Beck, Herbie Hancock and Macy Gray, offered a 40-minute set of numbers from a forthcoming disc , including the recent iTunes release "Corner Painter."