It was one of the best warmup sessions you're ever
likely to see.
The Who "sneaked" into the Tweeter Center last night for the band's first major show in this country since 2002.
The two-hour concert was a rehearsal gig, really, for the only other U.S. show until the fall - a sold-out Madison Square Garden performance later this month.
Near the end of the night, singer/guitarist Peter Townshend admitted to the near-capacity crowd the show had been "a little rough."
But that was what made it fun. The Who have never been polish. The band's strength has been its sheer energy ... and its songbook.
Now that only two of the original quartet are alive - Townshend and singer Roger Daltrey - the group is almost a Dr. Seuss creation: the "Half-a-Who." But the group had no trouble proving its relevance last night. The strong material was a key, from the "C.S.I." soundtrack tunes ("Who Are You,"
"Won't Get Fooled Again") to "Behind Blue Eyes," "5:15" and "Love, Reign O'er Me."
The band, which included Pino Palladino on bass, Zak Starkey on drums, a keyboards player and a rhythm guitarist, also performed more recent material, such as the new "Real Good Looking Boy."
Two more factors were Starkey's ferocious percussion work and Townshend's guitar.
In many ways, Townshend is an even more confident and adventurous player than in the band's heyday, and he sprayed ripping solos and fills all over the place. During the "Magic Bus" and "My Generation" jams, he took some delicious, absolutely gonzo guitar runs.
Townshend, never one to pander, spoke several times about his affection for Boston-area audiences. He gave a thumbs up before he left the stage. The band also deserved one.
The group mrnorth opened the concert making pretty much the kind of rock 'n' roll noise expected from a young band opening for The Who, even if its music was sometimes a little overwrought.