Just Under 6,000 people showed up last night to hear Roger Daltrey and his special guests, including Who bassist John Entwistle; Pete Townshend's younger brother, Simon, on guitar; Ringo Starr's kid, Zak Starkey on the drums, and others (including The 60 piece Great Woods Festival Orchestra), recreate the music of The Who. Which means that at least 13,000 people probably stayed away because they felt It was impossible without Pete Townshend.
They were wrong. For more than two glorious hours, the outstanding sound of The Who filled the Mansfield night, as Daltrey and the band put together one of the finest shows of the season. Concentrating predominantly on The Who catalog from 1969 to 1978, the show featured more than 20 songs, including the long-ignored Quadrophenia, a brilliant rock opera that ranks among The Who's best material.
After a lengthy overture, Daltrey took the stage by immediately kicking in with »You Better You Bet« and a kickin' »Another Tricky Day«, with Simon Townshend eerily mimicking his brothers boves. Throw in Zak Starkey's superb drumming that at times harkened back to the helter-skelter style of Keith Moon (who trained Starkey), and it was flashback city. »Baba O'Riley« was fast and furious, and Daltrey even tossed in the obscure »After The Fire«.
The orchestra, which was outstanding all night, gave the music a pleasant jolt with a segment devoted to Tommy, as Daltrey swung his microphone chord like a lasso while belting out »Amazing Journey«, »I'm Free« And »Pinball Wizard«. He then climaxed the set with an emotional tour de force on »See Me, Feel Me«.
The second half came out all fired up with a pleasant »Who Are You«, featuring nice guitar work by Geoff Whitehorn, followed by Daltrey's excellent rendition of Pete Townshend's solo number, »The Sea Refuses No River«. Things really kicked into gear right about here as Daltrey introduced John Entwistle to the crowd, who then proceeded to rip off excellent versions of »My Wife« and the creepy-crawly »Boris The Spider«.
But the best was yet to come, and it did with a simply smashing section that featured the orchestra cutting loose on a 35 minute salute to Quadrophenia, in which Daltrey punched the vocal envelope with riveting renditions of »The Real Me«, »5.15«, and »Love, Reign O'er Me«, as the band fired on all cylinders. The show then ended on a high note with a fine »Behind Blue Eyes« and a hard driving »Won't Get Fooled Again«.
Those who stayed away last night because there was no Pete Townshend missed a sensational evening because they didn't remember that not one person is bigger than the music of The Who, even if that one person did write all the songs.