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Manchester Evening News, 06-04-2017
Some gigs just feel different, they feel like a real event rather than just a night out.
And the fact there is tangible sense of awe amongst the crowd as The Who walk onto the stage at the Manchester Arena straight away lets you know you are in the presence of musical royalty.
There is a definite sense that everyone tonight is putting a huge tick on their musical bucket list.
Especially as Pete Townshend windmills his arm across his red Fender Stratocaster in trademark style and Roger Daltrey struts around the stage, mic stand in hand, on openers I Can't Explain and The Seeker.
They certainly started with a bang and there was no let up.
“We love Manchester, but we used to charter a plane to get here” says Townshend as he recalls their many appearances on Top of the Pops, filmed here during their sixties heyday.
Individually, Daltrey and Townshend, along with their late pals, former drummer Keith Moon and bassist John Entwistle, are rightly regarded as some of the best ever in their fields.
And together they produced some of the best songs ever set to tape by a British band, or any band for that matter.
As opposed to many of the later works by their esteemed contemporaries, The Beach Boys Pet Sounds and The Beatles Sgt Pepper for example, which were never intended to be played live, their 1969 masterpiece Tommy, which they are celebrating tonight, was made for the stage.
However somehow the tag Rock Opera doesn't quite do it justice. That suggests an artiness and a flamboyance, whereas this record, the first of its kind, has an earthiness which is as endearing as it is unsettling.
Given the majesty of much of the music, its easy to forget the dark narrative the songs are taking us through.
Tommy, the 'deaf dumb and blind kid' has a traumatic upbringing, witnessing a murder and being abused before becoming a 'Pinball Wizard' and then the leader of a cult who eventually turn on him.
At 73, Daltrey may not be able to hit the high notes he once could, but his voice still soars on the likes of Tommy's closer Seem Me, Feel Me.
And there was still time for some of their classics. In fact there were dozens more they could have sandwiched the album with.
But the spine-chilling organ intro on Baba O'Riley alone would have been enough to send everyone home happy.
And we got one last blast of that unmistakable guitar from the genius Townshend on Won't Get Fooled Again.
Still got it? You bet.