At the Kungliga tennishallen (Royal Tennis Hall) in Stockholm on Wednesday night it was embarrassingly clear to see the difference between two different kinds of artists: those who listlessly and unknowingly jumps on the latest fashion trend and those who are spearheading the development and, as a result, can perform with authority and self irony. The Dutch popgroup Golden Earring is among the former and headliners The Who among the latter.
Superficially, both groups may seem equal. Both play violently loud with a frenetic stage appearance. But Golden Earring played meaningless fake-advanced pop completely without substance, with heart-rendering end-of-the-world romanticism performed in the most ridiculous way. It was the worst trash I have seen at any large concert, although the performance itself was, technically speaking, fair.
Who, on the other hand, knows how to use the high volume. They have themselves created the violent style of pop and developed it, and the concert made them full justice, in spite of some trouble with the sound.
I first saw Who at Nalen in 1966. Then as well as now, they literally pushed back the audience, not just by their enormous volume, but through the dedication in their playing. They pounded their respective instruments almost fanatically. Since then, every new record, and now the show at the Tennishallen has convinced me that the group has much of what distinguishes the best pop music: spontaneity, power, immediacy, joy in playing, cheekiness and a strong and simple musicianship.
The stage performance of guitarist Pete Townshend was fascinating. He seemed almost driven by an inner engine, pumping out powerful cascades of sound through his violently spinning right arm. He played a show of controlled madness. Each second, he gave new impressions to both eye and ear, and therein lies part of the explanation why people hasn’t got tired of Who after so many years.
Townshend sacrifices nothing of the entertainment and the show to show himself off as a guitarist. His playing is both simple and with sting. The tone and total impression makes it easy to disregard from the fact of what a fine musician he is.
Of his compositions, Who played the fantastic "Won’t get fooled again" and "Baba O’Riley", both with pre-recorded tapes as an extra seasoning in the background: Further "My generation" and "Pinball Wizard", and, by other composers, "Summertime Blues", for example. The singer Roger Daltrey was in fine form and it was a rich and lovely concert.
And, as always, Who surprised with a new joke – this time it consisted of a lot of small pellets that were tossed over the audience.
von Jan Forsgren <firstname.lastname@example.org>