Dale D. Parry
The show: The Who at the Palace of Auburn Hills Friday night.
The tickets: $54.50-$99.50
The crowd: Refugees from America’s teenage wasteland, most of whom now hold jobs as accountants, lawyers, middle managers and assistant principals. (See? This is what you get when you don’t die before you get old.) Lots of dudes. Plus, seemingly everybody in metro Detroit who owns a T-shirt with the Union Jack on it.
The vibe: Celebratory. Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, back on a world tour after 20 years? A new album ("Endless Wire") due in October after 24 years without a studio album? Who-ha!
The verdict:: This was a night of The Who proving themselves still worthy of our attention, which required faithful execution of their anthems, plus something new and interesting for fans to chew on. They did it on a flat, simple stage that kept the focus squarely on the music (and kept the crowd standing, whether to dance in the aisles or just to see the stage). With few pauses, Townshend and Daltrey pounded through 25 tunes – including a 6-song mini-opera excerpt from "Endless Wire." Daltrey’s voice at times was pressed to its limits, reaching for notes that probably seemed like a good idea in 1965, but he was definitely more hit than miss. And Townshend, still somehow sounding anti-establishment, was fully wound up, windmilling and jump-kicking and defiantly proclaiming The Who’s return to stage and studio. It effectively put to rest any question that The Who still have something to say, and lots of miles left in them. (You can see for yourself by ordering a DVD of the Detroit show for $27.50 at www.themusic.com.)
Local flavor: In between tunes, Townshend reminded fans that The Who once set a world record for attendance here, when nearly 76,000 people packed into the Silverdome in 1975.
Mega-moment: As the band launched into the synthesized strains of "Baba O’Riley" (the "teenage wasteland" song), five giant vertical screens behind the stage were flushed with "Matrix-style" cascading computer code and other cog-in-the-machine imagery that made for a perfect matchup of music and multimedia.
Guilty pleasure: During the opening tune ("I Can’t Explain,") the video screens showed black-and-white photos and grainy footage of the band’s early days – a little bit of time travel for everybody who knew the words to "Who Are You" even before "CSI."