September 18, 2019
State Farm Arena
Review and photos by Robert Kern
With The Who’s Moving On! Tour, the kids are alright in Atlanta
It almost seems like sport for current rock music critics to complain about the effects of father time on classic rock performers. That criticism is often directed towards perceived diminishment of vocal or instrumental abilities when performing live. Never mind that these bands and individuals have shared their immense talent for decades or that they have given us amazing and life-defining music that still colorizes our sometimes black and white lives.
The Who brought their 2019 “Moving On!” tour to State Farm Arena in Atlanta, GA, on September 18th and from the opening notes of “Overture” to the rising crescendo that punctuated the ending of “Baba O’Riley”, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey proved that the kids are definitely alright.
Employing local symphony musicians from Atlanta to compliment violinist Katie Jacoby and cellist Audrey Snyder, the Who careened through a 2 hour, 3 part show that had the orchestra bookend a middle section of classic hits by the core touring band with selected offerings from “Tommy” and “Quadrophenia”.
Both men appeared energized and glad to be onstage this night. Roger Daltrey, black jeans, black t-shirt and tinted glasses effortlessly maneuvered around the stage. At 75, he looked tremendously fit and showed no signs of fatigue as he bounced around and twirled his microphone through the air all evening. Vocally, his voice though flavored with age was powerful and filled the arena. Pete Townshend, 74, clad in a navy-blue blazer, black slacks and black and white striped t-shirt filled the role of elder statesman perfectly. He effortlessly attacked several different guitars throughout the performance with the energy and fervor of a twenty-something rocker hell-bent on murdering the strings, producing some stellar riffs that punctuated the classic tunes being performed. And. He. Wind-milled. Oh, man, did he windmill – and the crowd went wild each and every time.
The concert opened with a suite of choice tunes from the rock-opera “Tommy” including “Pinball Wizard” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It / See Me Feel Me”. Also included in the first portion of the show were the classis hits “Who Are You” and “Eminence Front”, enhanced by the power of the 40+ piece orchestra, and the first of two new songs, “Hero Ground Zero”, from the forthcoming album “Who”. The album is due out November 22nd and will be the first new album from The Who in 13 years.
The orchestra exited for several songs as the Who bounced through “The Kids Are Alright” and their first U.S. hit, 1967’s “I Can See For Miles”. They then followed up with a very spirited rendition of “You Better You Bet”.
One of the show-stopping highlights of the concert placed Daltrey and Townshend alone onstage performing an acoustic rendition of “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. Townshend masterfully attacked the strings of his guitar with manic intensity, and Daltrey delivered the vocal with the same rebellious passion that permeated the original version of this iconic rock anthem. It became a massive sing-along for the thousands in attendance.
With the return of the orchestra the band launched into another new tune titled “Ball and Chain”, a solid song that sounded very reminiscent of classic mid-70’s Who. As the show moved toward the inevitable finale, Pete Townshend’s second rock opera “Quadrophenia” was highlighted. Fans were treated to “The Real Me”, “I’m One”, “5:15”, “The Rock” and “Love, Reign O’er Me”.
After band introductions (Simon Townshend – guitars & vocals, Zak Starkey – drums, Jon Button – bass guitar, Loren Gold – keyboards), the show concluded with “Baba O’Riley” which featured a spirited duel between Katie Jacoby on violin and Pete Townshend on guitar. Roger and Pete then thanked the fans repeatedly through the thunderous ovation and alluded to the unknown nature of the next time we’d get to see them. The crowd tried to encourage an encore, but the house lights came up signaling that the show had finished and the Who was moving on…