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Review San Francisco, CA, Sun, 13 August 2017

The Who gives Outside Lands a smashing finale

SFGate, 14-08-2017

Fifty years after stealing the show at the Monterey International Pop Festival in 1967, British rock icons the Who were back in California closing out this year’s Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival on Sunday, Aug. 13.
Playing the main stage on the Polo Fields in Golden Gate Park, the group, featuring just two surviving members from the original lineup — singer Roger Daltrey and guitarist Pete Townshend — and a crew of touring musicians, didn’t skimp on the hits, charging through FM radio staples like “I Can’t Explain,” “Who Are You” and “My Generation.”
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At one point, Townshend held up his signature Stratocaster in the soupy fog and in a nod to Woody Guthrie said, “This red guitar kills fascists!”
The crowd went nuts, but he tossed the comment out there so casually it was hard to tell if he was actually making a political statement on the violence in Virginia or recycling old stage banter, especially since a few minutes earlier Daltrey, with his shirt unbuttoned just a few inches too far, had described “Behind Blue Eyes” as “a Limp Bizkit song.”

It was the Who’s first official San Francisco concert since its appearance at the Winterland Ballroom in 1976, and they came prepared.
“Thank you, San Francisco for all your pot,” Daltrey said. “I’m as high as a f— kite.”
With vintage film reels of its glory years rolling on the scrim, the two-hour set felt like a rock ’n’ roll history lesson.
Townshend may not have smashed his guitar as he did during the Who’s Summer of Love heyday, but the group still left plenty of shrapnel in the park with high-ferocity versions of classics like “The Kids Are Alright,” “5:15” and “Pinball Wizard.”


Aidin Vaziri