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Toronto Sun, 02-03-2016
About 14,000 Toronto concertgoers helped The Who’s frontman Roger Daltrey celebrate his 72nd birthday Tuesday night.
And not a moment too soon.
Daltrey and the band’s lead guitarist-songwriter Pete Townshend, 70, arrived at the Air Canada Centre for the resumption of The Who Hits 50! tour in North America.
The British rockers’ fall leg of their half-century anniversary trek was postponed for six months when Daltrey came down with viral meningitis and the group only just got back out on the road Saturday night in Detroit at Joe Louis Arena.
So if the show began a bit tentatively with the classic Who Are You, Townshend wasted no time performing his trademark windmill guitar moves before the group -- rounded out by Pete’s younger brother guitarist/mandolinist Simon Townshend, drummer Zak Starkey (Ringo Starr’s son), bassist Pino Palladino, keyboardist John Corey, keyboardist Loren Gold and multi-instrumentalist Frank Simes -- moved onto The Seeker.
“Great to be back in Toronto,” said Townshend before the next song, The Kids Are Alright.
“For our final show,” joked Daltrey before adding:“We’ll be back next week.”
Actually, The Who -- who will appear on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon March 4 -- return for their second makeup date in Toronto on April 26.
“I don’t know about Roger but a lot of good women have happened to me in Toronto,” said Townshend. “And a lot of good men ... quaffing a beer in a pub. That was 22 years ago now. Anyway, we love your city.”
And Toronto appears to love them back even if Daltrey and Townshend in their ‘70s aren’t the vital, robust and explosive wonders they were in their ‘20s.
Thankfully, their material stands the test of time, particularly anthemic songs like My Generation, Pictures Of Lily and Bargain.
At one point, some of the crowd attempted to sing Happy Birthday to Daltrey before Join Together and You Better You Bet, and another section in the venue attempted again before Eminence Front.
The Quadrophenia instrumental The Rock seemed to be inserted to give the singer -- who left the stage -- a bit of a vocal break.
But he came back with a vengeance to sing the big notes on Love Reign O’er Me, one of the major highlights of the night, and swung his microphone cord in his trademark move during the Tommy track Amazing Journey.
However, it was in the one hour and 50 minute show’s final stretch that The Who -- who have five more Canadian dates in May including Vancouver’s Pepsi Live at Rogers Arena on May 13 -- really warmed up with the powerful quintet of the Tommy instrumental Sparks, Pinball Wizard and See Me, Feel Me followed by crowd singalong instigators Baba O’ Riley and Won’t Get Fooled Again, the latter containing Daltrey’s feral howl.