You've got to take your hat off to any band that can play a set full of 40-year-old songs and still make them sound stunningly "of the moment". Previous Who shows on this current tour featured almost half an hour of new material from their upcoming Who2 album, due out in September.
But there was no airing for the Wire and Glass "mini rock opera" at Ashton Gate last night - it was greatest hits all the way.
The difference between The Who and all those other veteran rock acts is the dynamic way they attack their back catalogue.
Kicking off with I Can't Explain, all the trademarks were there from the off - Roger Daltrey's mic-whirling antics and the windmill-armed guitar of Pete Townshend.
The Seeker, an undervalued gem in their catalogue, was next and Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere, showcased their fledgling mod pop to fine effect.
It goes without saying that the band are without two key members. Drummer Zak Starkey - the son of Ringo Starr, no less - may not have the frantic energy and wild abandon of Keith Moon but he more than holds his own.
He eats these stadium gigs for breakfast - after all, he's been filling the drum stool for Oasis for the last couple of years.
Veteran sessioner Pino Palladino has taken the place of John Entwistle to form, with Starkey, an impressively muscular-sounding rhythm section.
By Who Are You? Townshend was in full flight. There were even a few scissor kicks at the end - a little more restrained than 30 years ago - but still impressively committed.
We also got a rockingly-raw Bargain, from Who's Next - although Townshend was a little tentative on his first solo vocal of the night.
The guitarist took a solo spot for a typically rhythmic acoustic version of Let's See Action.
Baba O'Riley - the band at their stadium-rock zenith - came complete with a frantic harmonica solo from Daltrey.
A superb elongated version of My Generation preceded Won't Get Fooled Again - perfectly timed as the sun went down to accompany their traditionally dazzling light show.
For an encore they wheeled out Substitute with a riff from heaven and one of Townshend's wittiest lyrics. Then it was full steam ahead through the pick of their rock opera Tommy, including a powerhouse Pinball Wizard, Amazing Journey and Sparks.
The Kids are Alright, they sang - and the old geezers are doing pretty well for themselves too.
Rating: five out of five
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