Denis Armstrong - Ottawa Sun
OTTAWA - Lots of teenage musical obsessions have come and gone over the last 40 years, none have had the enduring snarling pheromones of The Who, who played Scotiabank Place last night.
Even reduced to two old geezers in Roger Daltrey, who's 62, and Pete Townshend, a waif at only 61, the band many considered one of a trio of groups who led the British Invasion of the 1960s, amazingly still has enough musical muscle, raw rock energy and a killer set of pre and post-punk tunes to thrill more than 12,000 - 12,000??? What's wrong with you Ottawa?
The last time The Who played the capital was Oct. 1969. Here they are 37 years later, in front of a red theatrical curtain almost an hour after the opening band Peeping Tom cleared the stage. But no one seems to mind. There's plenty of beer, lots of banners with the Who's RAF logo and the sound system is playing Led Zeppelin really loud.
If you don't know how good that is, ask your parents.
But when Daltrey and Townshend do walk on stage, the roar is deafening. So loud, they have to wait for the noise to die down before they can begin to play I Can't Explain. It isn't long before Roger is twirling the microphone and Pete is doing the first of many windmill waves on his guitar.
Joined by Pete's brother, Simon, on bass, with Zak Starkey - Ringo's son - on drums, Daltrey and Townshend both look and sound fabulous. Okay, Roger admittedly has lost the top end of his voice. That was obvious during Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere but Townshend appeared ageless and loving the show, bouncing constantly.
Then, joking with the audience, he laughed about getting kicked out of their hotel, presumably the Chateau Laurier, when they were last here in 1969.
"They kicked us out at 2 a.m., so we said screw it, let's leave for Toronto."
After that little tease, he practically apologized for playing songs from their new Endless Wire album, which is due out next month. The first new song, Fragments, is generic retro '70s rock. The best thing you can say about it is that at least they're quoting themselves.
That's how their 90-minute concert went, sets of much-loved favourites, interrupted briefly by half-hearted pitches of new material, including a mention of their new all-Who channel on Sirius satellite radio.
Perhaps Townshend's own anxiety performing new material tainted the show, or the audience's expectations. But when they redialled their live show back to the old stuff, what Townshend described as "the melting pot of self-obsessive lunacy" in Who Are You and Behind Blue Eyes, the results were thrilling.
The Who is, after all, the band that invented the rock anthem. And when Daltrey and Townshend let one rip, it shook you to the bones.
After their tribute to Elvis Presley, Good Looking Boy, and, again almost apologizing, they introduced Glass of Wine, or what Townshend described as a "mini-opera of six songs squashed together" as if they were test-marketing new album and really insecure about the results. Which, obviously they were. Hmmm. Better luck next time.
They don't quite stand up to My Generation, You Better You Bet, Won't Get Fooled Again or their encore Pinball Wizard, See Me Feel Me and the overture to Tommy.
Even if the show was, at times, frustratingly uneven - when the fans weren't screaming, you could hear a pin drop - the city hasn't seen anything - and here I'm including The Stones, Bowie, even Springsteen - nearly as frustratingly, wonderfully big a rock show as the one The Who put on last night.
Now THAT'' a rock show.
On a historic evening like this, you had to feel for Peeping Tom, the hipper-than-hip metal hopsters, who went to great lengths to get any sort of reaction from the house, only to find that the only thing tougher than a gangsta rapper is an old, disinterested Mod, who wants to be left alone with his favourite band.
Why, oh why, book an opening act for The Who.