NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - In the midst of their first full world tour in more than two decades, Who principals Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey demonstrated Monday at Madison Square Garden that they have lost none of their musical chemistry.
Accompanied by Pino Palladino on bass, Zak Starkey on drums, Simon Townshend on guitar and John "Rabbit" Bundrick on keyboards, they delivered a typically powerful show that encompassed a good portion of the band's epochal hits and a generous selection of new material.
Considering that its leaders have reached their 60s, it isn't surprising that a Who show now lacks the anarchic energy of old. But the music, anchored by Townshend's propulsive and ever-varied guitar playing and Daltrey's still-potent vocals, is powerfully stirring.
The show, beginning with such classics as "I Can't Explain," "The Seeker" and "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere," was a well-paced affair that ended triumphantly with an encore suite of songs from "Tommy," followed by the gently melancholic "Tea & Theater" from "Endless Wire," their long-awaited album of new music set for release October 31.
Their renditions of such anthems as "Baba O'Riley," "Who Are You" and "Won't Get Fooled Again" were as transporting as ever.
The performance included several selections from the mini-opera "Wire & Glass," which displayed some sparks of the Who of old, though they seemed more like song fragments than finished works. The other new songs included the scathing "Man in the Purple Dress," enlivened by Daltrey's powerful vocals; "Black Widow's Eyes," a strong number about Stockholm syndrome; and "Mike Post Theme," a strange ode to the television show composer that featured memorable riffs tied to silly lyrics. Explaining the latter with tongue in cheek, Townshend commented: "You think you're going to watch a s----y TV show, and then you hear a Who song. Ka-ching!"
Otherwise, Townshend was fairly subdued, having gotten into some trouble with some onstage comments to Daltrey at a previous show -- "Roger just told me not to say anything," he joked.