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The Who - Seat Unique Riverside, Durham 19.07.2023

The first album I ever bought with my own money (I’d had birthday and Xmas presents and bought singles) was 'Tommy' by The Who and it still sits in my racks ranking high in my all time favourites. So to be standing in the photo pit as the show opens with a large section of that album accompanied by a full orchestra was somewhat emotional to say the least!

'The Overture' giving glimpses of themes to come is elevated to new heights with the strings and brass and sounds just incredible before we take a short 'Amazing Journey' (see what I did there?) through the deaf dumb and blind kids story. '1951', 'Sparks', 'Acid Queen' and 'Pinball Wizard' are all there in their glory complete with Daltreys mic swinging and Townshend windmilling but it’s when Roger delivers the emotional 'See Me Feel Me into Listening To You' that I feel the goosebumps tenfold and it is obvious looking around I’m not the only one it’s having that effect on!

The first orchestral segment is brought to a close with a storming version of 'Who Are You' giving Zak Starkey a chance to channel his late god father and give that drum kit a good battering! It was nice to see Zak set up down on the stage the way Moon used to as well rather than up on a riser not sure if that was an intentional tribute or just because of the stage set up with the orchestra but either way it worked a treat and you could see just how great a drummer he is.

Big shout out to Simon Townshend on guitars and John Button on bass too holding down a fine rhythm section In my opinion. 'Eminence Front' is one of The Who’s best but most under rated songs it has a fantastic underlying groove to it with the sequencers allowing Townshend to shine over them. Up next for a lot of the crowd is the meat and veg of the night with just the band members and a brief history of The Who’s history. Their back catalogue is so incredible though this bit could have easily been a set of Springsteen show length itself! 'Can’t Explain', 'The Kids Are Alright', 'Substitute', 'Anyway Anyhow Anywhere' have all the Ace Faces and parka wearers dancing their socks off whilst 'My Generation' despite the obvious lyric irony gets the place bouncing! Not gonna lie I’d happily trade 'You Better You Bet' for a couple of other tracks it’s never been my favourite but what do I know everyone one else here was singing their hearts out! Of course 'Won’t Get Fooled Again' is MASSIVE from that opening power chord the bombastic drumming and THAT scream which Roger absolutely nails and while I didn’t want to dwell on anyones age a lot of vocalists more than half his age would not manage this! And if that wasn’t enough he then goes on to tug everyone’s heartstrings with 'Behind Blue Eyes'!

Back in their seats the orchestra beef up the sound for a selection of 'Quadrophenia' tracks , the brass in particular bringing '5:15' up a notch or three and another favourite of mine 'The Rock' accompanied by a screen projection of historical and political landmarks from the last 50 years or so including recent events from here in the UK before once again Daltrey wows us all with a powerful 'Love Reign O’er Me' that once again had those goosebumps up.

The rousing 'Baba O’Riley' gets the few remaining seated up on their feet fists raised “it’s only teenage wasteland “ echoing around the stadium. Having the orchestra gives Pete the chance to have the violin vs guitar “jig” live with violinist Katie Jacobs to bring the anthem and show to an epic end and like that 2 hours plus has flown by and what a performance! Yes some of the songs have been slightly slowed down or key changes have been made but so what they still rocked! It’s gonna be a sad day when a lot of legendary bands like The Who are no longer touring but we will still have the music and memories so if this is Roger and Pete’s last tour I wish them a very happy retirement and a big thank you for all of the great tunes, if it’s not though I’ll see you down the front again next time!!

Photos & Review - G's Gig Shots


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