The Who

The Who Royal Albert Hall

18 March 2024

I first saw The Who at two gigs in 1975, the 2nd time at a rain swept Valley – Charlton Athletic Football Ground. At that time they were at the height of their powers, but last night’s gig in aid of The Teenage Cancer Trust, nearly 49 years later, was no less exciting , with Roger Daltrey and Pete Townsend , backed by excellent band and Orchestra, delighting the audience with hit after hit, delivered with raw power reminiscent of their younger days.

There was considerable overlap between the set lists separated by 49 years, indeed opening with the same song, I Can’t Explain. Amongst many highlights last night was a section of songs from Tommy (which had dominated the 1975 gigs), a section from Quadrophenia, and 3 songs from their seminal album Who’s Next. Throw in some early hits like My Generation and Substitute, and virtually the whole set list was from the ‘60’s and ‘70’s. Well, who cares?  – there was no modern material but the audience were there to hear all the fabulous songs from The Who’s heyday, and the band did not disappoint.


 The Who tour 2024

the who

the who

Roger Daltrey’s voice is extraordinary. Now aged 80, he sounds like a 25 year old, with his familiar rich tone and hitting all the notes in his extensive vocal range, such as the beautiful See Me, Feel Me and even the trademark scream at the end of Wont Get Fooled Again. And Pete Townsend expertly driving the band with chord after chord, not treating us to scissor jumps any more but still plenty of windmill arms in his repertoire.

The band, including Zak Starkey on drums, and Pete’s brother, Simon, on guitars, were excellent. And for 2/3 of the show, they were augmented by full orchestra. For me this was generally interesting but I preferred the middle section when the 6-piece band played on their own. One or two songs worked particularly well with Orchestra however, notably the penultimate song in Quadrophenia, The Rock.

There were a few errors which would suggest this was an under-rehearsed gig – some false starts to songs and one where Pete was clearly practicing the opening chords. But far from detracting, this enhanced the authenticity of the gig and the sense that it was a raw rock performance which once it clicked was sublime.

The Who closed the gig with the wonderful Baba O’Reilly, which itself concluded with a fabulous virtuoso violin solo. Leaving the audience in raptures and delighted to have seen a fabulous show by these Rock Icons.

Paul Allen