Leslie Gray Streeter, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
The Who's Pete Townshend, clever as ever, was talking to the crowd at BankAtlantic Center on Monday night about aging when he made an observation.
"We hope we die before we get old or something," he deadpanned, a wry smile curling his lip.
"Actually, it's you we're worried about. Are you sure you can keep up the pace?"
The reference to the British rock monster's hit My Generation may have seemed to be coy, but there was a real question whether the crowd could keep up with the 61-year-old Townshend, 62-year-old original bandmate Roger Daltrey and their mates. Their seemingly endless and ridiculously spirited set rolled from hit to new song to bigger hit, with nary a pause and not a bit of hesitation.
And this is true, considering the generous amount of leeway that rock fans tend to give their legends. They expect them to rock, but forgive a little slowing down, a wee amount of creak. Well, other than the fact that Townshend no longer slides on his knees, and that Keith Moon isn't around to blow anything up, The Who don't need your stinking leeway.
From Daltrey's ever-sneering stutter on My Generation, Townshend's wide, boisterous arm windmills that assaulted his guitar, and the general energy, it's clear that the Who will die before they get old, no matter how old they happen to be when that actually happens.
The old and new merged into each other, the newer songs being not quite as memorable as most of the old ones but still better than most new songs by veteran acts. The standout of the newer material, from the band's recent Endless Wire, was the acoustic A Man In A Purple Dress, on which Daltrey waxed bitter and caustic about false idols.
But the old stuff ... well, that's genius. The Who took the stage to the '60s beat of I Can't Complain, with drummer Zak Starkey, son of a certain famous British invasion drummer named Starr, pounding away. Baba O'Riley's momentous chant of "It's only teenage WASTELAND" brought the crowd to their feet, and the aforementioned version of My Generation kept them there.