David Whetstone, The Journal
Will young Robyn Rihanna Fenty still be entertaining the multitudes in 2057?
She’ll have to be if she’s to emulate the two pensioners who rocked the Arena on Thursday night.
At 69, Roger Daltrey, The Who’s lead singer, is 10 years older than Rihanna’s dad. Pete Townshend’s not far behind, at 68.
“Active since 1964” states the band’s Wikipedia page – and that, I can tell you, is true.
They may curse their youthful fondness for songs with high notes, but you had to admire the energy of these two men on a sultry night.
For about two solid hours – 1973’s Quadrophenia in its moody entirety plus some other favourites – Daltrey gave vent to one of rock’s great anthemic voices and Townshend, in a checked shirt that gradually darkened, gave his guitar and famous whirling right arm a punishing workout.
Flashing lights, projected news footage from the Second World War to 9/11 and band close-ups on circular screens were just the frills.
The main event was supplied by the 21st Century manifestation of The Who – Daltrey, Townshend and a band of musicians including Townshend’s brother Simon, who showed he too can belt out a song.
Quadrophenia, which explores some dark corners of the mind, is not a bubbly listen. Parts of it are actually sobering.
Footage of the band’s “late and lamented” added poignancy. There was bassist Jon Entwistle, grey-haired and inscrutable; and bellowing away on Bell Boy, Keith Moon showing why it was always safer – though not by much – to keep him behind the drum kit.
A large crowd soaked it up, a goodly number of irrepressible dads rocking in a manner fit to embarrass their kids.
There was no chat until Quadrophenia’s dying fall. Townshend thanked everyone for coming. “We know times are hard,” he said (and he won’t have heard a lone voice near me splutter: “£65 a ******* ticket!”)
But as “Rock On Geordies” flashed on screen and Who Are You? rolled into Won’t Get Fooled Again, Baba O’Riley and Pinball Wizard, no-one was heading for the exits.
At the last the famous pair stood alone, Daltrey with mug in hand, quietly performing Tea & Theatre. Brains and beauty are part of The Who’s secret along with the head-banging rhythms. This touching late period song underlined the point.