Monday, May 25, 2015

Joan Jett & The Who "Pick Up Their Guitars & Play" at Mohegan Sun

Photo by John V
When you go to live shows regularly, as I do, you often see a mix of fair/decent shows, good shows, or very good shows. Then there are the concerts that can only be described by one word: epic. Sunday night at Mohegan Sun Arena, we were treated a truly epic show by The Who. The night began with opening act Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, who were recently inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Joan & the band tore up the place with a fierce, energetic 11-song set that included “I Love Rock & Roll, Crimson & Clover, and Cherry Bomb.” Jett prowled the stage, jamming on guitar, having a good time, and getting the audience charged up for the main event. She’s a consummate live performer, and a rock & roll road warrior. It was the perfect opening salvo to a great night of music. Joan rocks!

Following a short break, during which text, photos & graphics about The Who’s 50-year history were flashed on a screen, the band took the stage, and kicked off the show with a terrific version of “I Can’t Explain.” After that we were treated to almost two hours of classic songs, including “My Generation, Who Are You, Sparks and I Can See For Miles.” Roger Daltrey was in excellent voice, and sounded strong throughout the night, especially on a breathtaking, powerful vocal on “Love, Reign O’er Me” that gave us chills. Pete Townshend performed a few of his trademark guitar moves, and did a nice turn on lead vocal duties for “I’m One,” from Quadrophenia. The memorable show was nothing less than a celebration of the band’s enduring musical catalog, and both Daltrey & Townshend told a few stories about the group, including an amusing tale regarding “The Kids Are Alright.” Townshend, in particular, showed off his caustic sense of humor several times in the between song chatter during the show. He's lost none of his wit (or grit) over the years.

Photo by John V
But this night was all about the music, and if you were a fan, it was truly magical. Excellent versions of “You Better You, Bet, I Can See For Miles and Join Together” had the audience singing along & on their feet, which was where many of them stayed throughout the evening. Song after song was amazing: “Bargain, Squeeze Box" & even "Eminence Front” which was the most recent number performed during the show, dating back to the 1982 album It's Hard. The backing band included longtime touring members Pino Palladino on bass, Zak Starkey on drums and Townshend’s brother Simon on guitar. Palladino & Starkey have incredibly big shoes to fill (those of John Entwistle & Keith Moon, respectively) but they were both magnificent, and sounded sensational throughout the show. The entire band was totally in sync during the concert, and if Joan Jett & The Blackhearts tore the roof off the joint during their set, The Who truly demolished what was left of it during their time on stage.

As the show reached it’s final third, the band performed its original mini-opera, “A Quick One While He’s Away,” as well as a few numbers from Tommy, including a rousing version of “Pinball Wizard.” By the way, kudos to the entire band & their crew, and an extra shout out to the lighting & graphics team; the images projected behind the band during the show were perfect. The evening ended with the one-two punch of “Baba O’Riley” & “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and the audience certainly wanted more. But after some thank yous to the fans from Daltrey & Townshend, this phenomenal night of music came to a close. Daltrey also mentioned in his closing comments that the only other performer in their age group touring regularly is Paul McCartney, and that he’s not doing too badly. He said they’d keep doing this as The Who as long as it continues to makes sense, and then maybe they’ll make a change and just do two hours of Johnny Cash songs! ;) “The Who Hits 50” tour continues with additional dates through the fall, and if you love The Who, then get some tickets and see the show. It is very well worth it. You'll experience an unforgettable night of classic rock & roll.

Set List - Joan Jett & The Blackhearts:
Bad Reputation
Cherry Bomb
Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)
You Drive Me Wild
Light of Day
Love Is Pain
The French Song
I Love Rock & Roll
Crimson & Clover
I Hate Myself For Loving You

Set List - The Who:
I Can't Explain
The Seeker
Who Are You
The Kids Are Alright
Squeeze Box
I Can See For Miles
My Generation
Behind Blue Eyes
Join Together
You Better You Bet
I'm One
Love Reign O'er Me
Eminence Front
A Quick One (While He's Away)
Amazing Journey
Pinball Wizard
See Me, Feel Me
Baba O'Riley
Won't Get Fooled Again

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