Joe Riley, Liverpool Echo
TO a now broad-beamed generation, the choice was between The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who.
With the first now defunct, the second decrepit, thank goodness half the third combo is in vintage working order.
With Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey doing a two-night stint in the big top, the loco is front end loaded: still a band for all generations.
Seeing these guys footling around backstage - Daltrey playing chess with his grandchildren, Town-shend sharing jokes with Ricky Tomlinson - they look like they could be queuing for the charabanc to Blackpool.
But once on stage they are resurrected to their true status as rock gods. The chemistry between the duo is immediate and still an incredible reminder of the days of chaotic angst.
They don't bother to dress up any more. They are bods more than mods.
But Townshend's genius guitar playing, which can combine lead and rhythm, as in Let's See Action, together with Daltrey's ability to still produce a scorching vocal line in either rock 'n' roll or power ballad format, ensures that these occasional and privileged collisions with pop history are savoured to the full by fans who have themselves absorbed the entire repertoire.
That is until now, of course. After 24 years, The Who, are about to release a new album and experiment once more with the rock opera format which Townshend pioneered.
One of the fresher tracks, Real Good Looking Boy, retraces '50s youthful mirrored reflections of being a disciple of Elvis. Townshend being philosophical in older age.
But as one of the true grandees of songwriting, he could perhaps be forgiven for proclaiming Quad-rophenia a work of genius, prior to Daltrey polishing off the final soaring coda, Love Reign O'er Me.
To this point things had been carefully cast into a crescendo of effect (after all they hold the record as the loudest band).
But it was still a spine-tingling thrill when My Generation burst forth, seemingly from nowhere, to be followed by their magnum opus, Won't Get Fooled Again, and an encore set which included Substitute and songs from Tommy.
To be at a live performance of The Who singing Pinball Wizard is, albeit for a fleeting moment, to be back on the starting line of youth.