It was no coincidence that British veteran rock group The Who ended their Helsinki-concert with Tea & Theatre off their latest album, Endless Wire. It is a song about a group of buddies who have been through everything together, successfully. Now there's only two of them left after one died and one went mad.
As the singer Roger Daltrey points his finger at guitarist Pete Townshend there's no question what the song is about. The Who's drummer Keith Moon died already in 1978 and bassist John Entwistle in 2002.
43 years after forming the group only Daltrey and Townshend remain. They are still touring and with a heavy burden: The Who's reputation and glory. The task isn't easy. Although Daltrey is the singer and Townshend the musical visionary, Moon and Entwistle were the band's motor and virtuosos. They made the band energetic, blazing, unlike any other.
The evening wasn't an easy one for sure. On the top of everything else Daltrey had lost his voice at a previous gig in Roskilde and also in Helsinki one could see painful expressions on his face.
The start of the concert went fine, but the challenging Baba O'Riley pushed his voice to the limit. A Man in a Purple Dress from the lastest record was painful to listen to.
Despite of this Daltrey fought his way through the gig. Excluding the above mentioned he did an excellent job with a husky voice. Pete Townshend was on top form with the guitar.
All in all Who's gig left a nice, but not a legendary taste in your mouth. The band on the stage wasn't obviously the same one that stormed through their gigs with unpredictable outcomes in the 60s and 70s, but, as one could expect, a notch more calmer version.
The songs were played with professionalism and dynamically by four back-up musicians: reaching from the fragileness of Behind Blue Eyes to explosiveness of Won't Get Fooled Again. Few songs, such as I Can't Explain and especially Kids Are Alright suffered from too tame arrangements.
The current drummer Zak "Ringo's son" Starkey was the most delightful surprise of the evening, as he has excellently adopted Keith Moon's loose style of playing.
On this tour The Who has varied the number of new songs being played. This time they didn't play the miniopera Wire & Glass, but three new ones were included. Along with Tea & Theatre and A Man in a Purple Dress, also Fragments was heard. Townshend showed off his knowledge of Finland:"I'm not sure if this can be called art. It's more of bonk". Bonk is project created by Helsinki-based artist Alvar Gullichsen.
Otherwise the gig was a hit parade, spanning from the 60s' My Generation to 80s' You Better You Bet. As a grand finale band played a four song medley from the Tommy-opera.
Translation by Marko Toikkanen