Eric R. Danton
Pete Townshend seemed particularly cranky at first when the Who stopped Tuesday night at Mohegan Sun. The irascible guitar legend started the show hidden behind sunglasses, barking out backing vocals on opener "I Can't Explain" that didn't quite match the meter of the other singers on stage, and grinding out the chords to "The Seeker" with surly composure. "Here we are, back to play again," he said early in the show, as if he were not entirely pleased about it. He quickly laughed off any discontent, though, starting the "The Relay" with a crack about the opulent dressing rooms "befitting a man of my [pause] age," and windmilling his arm wildly during the instrumental break.
From there, Townshend and singer Roger Daltrey got as close as they could to recapturing the sound and energy of the Who of yore in a two-hour show mostly comprising the hits. They're the last surviving members of the original quartet (augmented this tour by Pino Palladino on bass, Zak Starky on drums, Simon Townshend on guitar and John Bundrick on keyboards) and they're not getting any younger. Daltrey transposed some of his more piercing high vocal parts into rumbling lows, and he didn't indulge his old penchant for swinging the microphone around over his head with the same frequency or fervor he did when the Who played Mohegan two years ago. Still, the Who's classic songs have lost none of their power. "Who Are You" crackled with hyper energy, Townshend cut an iconic figure at center stage as he blasted out the guitar part to "Baba O'Riley" and the band locked in on "5:15" as piano flourishes cut through Townshend's fierce guitar playing. Daltrey can still summon wringing emotion for "Love, Reign O'er Me," which featured a particularly dazzling solo from Townshend, and the crowd helped sing "Behind Blue Eyes."<br /><br />The band ended its regular set with "Won't Get Fooled Again," and the guitar savagery and biting lyrics sounded as relevant today as ever. After Daltrey sang, "I know that the hypnotized never lie," Townshend seemed to take particular relish in adding, "Do ya?"
Much of the encore came from the Who's 1969 rock opera "Tommy," including "Pinball Wizard" and "Amazing Journey" before the Townshend and Daltry ended alone on stage with the acoustic "Tea & Theatre" from their "Wire & Glass" mini-opera.