The Who is back and better than ever!
Updated: Jan 9
The Who "Hits Back" tour, hit San Jose, October 24, 2022 and was nothing short of absolutely, and completely an EPIC performance by this band, thats been at the top, for 50+ years!!! The opener, Mike Campbell and the Dirty knobs began the evening with a 40 minute set, singing a few Petty hits woven into several Mike Campbell originals. For those who are unfamiliar with Mike Campbell, he was a Heartbreaker for 40+ years since Tom Petty began. He co-wrote many Petty hits as well as being Toms' closest buddy throughout their lives, both originating from Gainesville, Florida. Then at about 8.30, The Who hit the stage, with a local 30+ piece orchestra accompanying, and for the next 135 minutes was the most fun I've had in a while! The Who performed the set in three parts. They opened with original versions of Tommy songs (as opposed to the movie versions), which was phenomenal and my favourite part of the night. The orchestra then left the stage and The Who played a set which were songs from several albums through the years and ending with no other than Quadrophenia tunes. They included greats, such as Baba O'Reily, and Reign O'er Me, as well as a bloody brilliant version of Behind Blue Eyes. The orchestra returned for the last part of the night, Quadrophenia! And it was fantastic! Absolutely magnificent. Although, there may have been a couple songs in the middle, in my opinion, that could have been replaced with older more familiar songs, just because their library of hits is so huge. Some really early stuff may have gone over a bit better, but they chose what they chose and the band was so pro, tight and most important, they sounded amazing! The core Who band consisted of Roger Daltrey on lead vocals, Pete Townshend on guitar, Simon Townshend (Petes younger brother), on guitar, Pino Palladino on bass, Zak Starkey on drums, and Loren Gold on keys. With the help from the 'extra' super talented players that joined them such as Rob Landry on the biggest stand up bass I've ever seen, and Katie Jacoby, an absolute badass on violin. They are, and always have been my favourite band and one of my five fave artists of all time. Some people were big Beatles fans, some chose the Rolling Stones...I chose The Who from a very early age as 'my favourite'. Although I love The Stones and The Beatles too, I mean who doesn't, right? But from a very early age, I had always been a Who girl! Sadly, I never got to see my fave drummer Keith Moon perform live. He was known as 'Moonie' or ' Moon the Loon' for his trademark, unpredictable antics and crazed, drunken behaviour, because he died in 1978, just weeks before my first Who concert. And then years later, bassist, John Entwistle passed in 2002, but fortunately I did get to see Entwistle play several times, before he passed away. The Who replaced Entwistle with Pino Palladino on bass. And Moonie was first replaced by Kenny Jones. A perfectly fine drummer, but not at all suited to The Who. I was aware that filling Moonies' shoes was going to be a difficult, near impossible task. And many drummers may agree with the fact he was so erratic in his 'style' he was difficult to replicate and nearly impossible to replace. And he had a bigger than life personality to boot! However, when they found Zak Starkey, (Ringo’s son) they must have known that they found their drummer!
The section of the SAP Center in which we sat, was full of music industry people who were as into it, as I, so I did not feel out of place singing dancing and being a truly happy super fan girl! I was in my element for sure. When I look back and remember this show, it will always bring a smile to my face, and a certain musical glow in my heart. I'll always be so grateful to The Who for providing a large part of my lifes' soundtrack.
At this gig, I heard some crazy Moonie fills in amongst the Zak Starkey sound. Starkey was using a golden DW kit, and the drums looked acoustic until we looked deeper. The friend that came with me, is a drummer and he pointed out that all the drums were the same size, like a smaller-in-diameter snare. They were all a stunning shiny golden finish with the same color rims and hardware. A DW kit, combined with Roland electronics. So they were not totally acoustic as they had looked, but upon closer examination, he was playing a hybrid acoustic/electronic kit the entire show. And it sounded phenomenal! He also had his high-hat on the right rather than the left. I was imagining what family gatherings must be like in the Ringo Starr household. The drummer from the Beatles and The Who drummer all in one family! Pretty cool, I'd say! In the last decade or so, I've seen The Who multiple times and have always come away a little sad as they were just not what they used to be. Rogers voice couldn't hit the notes that he used to and he seemed a little lost in the lyrics. A few times Pete filled in where Roger lost his concentration and/or his vocal strength...but they plugged on as a team...and I'm so glad they did because last nights performance was A+! Rogers vocals sounded fantastic. He even hit the notes in tunes such as, Reign O'er Me, that his voice simply couldn't reach over the last decade or so. It was so joyous for me, a diehard Who fan! They were back and sounded better than ever! I was deliriously happy, with an almost trance like elation I felt during this show! The performance was divided into three parts. The setlist was great with songs from the original version of Tommy. Starting with The Overture, then they rolled it into, 1921, Amazing Journey, Sparks, Pinball Wizard and a passionate, We're Not Gonna Take It. All superbly performed and some I've never heard them play live before. As the original Tommy has always been one of my top albums...all the words came rushing back and put me in a happy place, singing and dancing to these tunes I've grown up with. The Who has always been a big part of my life, so my brain going back to the good music times of my childhood was incredibly fun! And I'm pretty sure, that my friend Robin, who came with me, (who had never seen them before) must have thought I'm too high not to be high on any substances apart from the music! He was the only one drinking between the two of us that night and I was the high one...On nothing but the sound of The Who! And what a high it was! Oh my! I even woke up the next morning high, thinking about what a great show it was! I felt elated beyond belief from the moment the music began. And felt a great relief when Daltrey started belting out the tunes I'm so familiar with...without Pete helping with lyrics as he had the past few times I've seen them. Daltrey was back to being the amazing lead vocalist he had been through most of their 50+ years being a band. Further into the show, they played hits such as, Who Are You and You Better You Bet, as well as, monster tunes, like 5:15, Love Reign O'er Me, We Wont Get Fooled Again and Baba O'Reily. They also played a stunning version of Behind Blue Eyes with the help of the extra players that joined them. Rob Landry on the biggest stand up bass I've ever seen, and Katie Jacoby, on violin. In the middle, there were also some not quite so popular tunes they chose to play. But all in all the show was absolutely superb! Zero complaints from this super Who fan girl! The final part and the icing on the cake were a few tunes from Quadrophenia.
The whole show, simply wonderful! I did not shoot it other than lots of video and a few stills from my iPhone. Luckily we were close enough to the stage that I could. And I dont usually write about these shows if I dont have my gear with me. I simply went as a fan, not a photographer, but this one is far too exciting, and I am far too elated not to share with you, The Music Soup readers. Five stars plus, from me. However, if I were to rate this gig from one to ten...I'd give it an ELEVEN!!! In the photo gallery below, are a few of my iPhone shots from our seats. The section we sat, was full of music industry people who were as into it, as I, so I did not feel out of place singing dancing and being a truly happy fan girl! In my element for sure. Remembering this show in years to come, will surely bring a smile to my face, and a certain musical glow in my heart. So grateful to The Who for providing a large part of my lifes' soundtrack. The drummer friend that I brought to the show, Robin Zickel, has added his point of view on the evening. Being a Who virgin, (never experiencing them live before), I thought it would be a fascinating addition to this review, as well as his opinion on Zak Starkey as Robin has been the drummer in several Beatles Bands through the years. The following is what Robin had to say on his first Who show experience:
Robin writes: "On October 24 I attended my first Who concert with my good friend Cheryl Alterman. Cheryl sometimes invites me to go along with her as her plus one, when she shoots photos of major bands and performers. When she asked me to join her for the Who concert at San Jose’s SAP Center I was excited to go along for two reasons. The first reason was because I’ve never seen the Who and was excited to go. The other reason, like all drummers, I wanted to see the drummer, in this case Ringo Starr’s son Zak Starkey. Zak has been playing with various members of The Who since 1996 and in 2007 became an official band member. I had heard of him for years but never saw him play until this night. Thanks to my buddy Cheryl, we had fantastic seats. Not only was I able to see the band from a close vantage point, I was able to check out the band better than any other major concert I’ve been to, including watching Zak Starkey and his kit, from pretty close up. The first thing I noticed was Zak’s incredibly gorgeous golden drum set which was a DW/Roland acoustic/electronic kit. At first I just assumed Zak was right-handed because he seemed to be leading with his right hand. Then I noticed that his high-hat was to his right which means that his left foot played his bass drum and his right foot played the high-hat pedal. So what I saw was an incredible drummer playing right-handed with his hands and left footed with his feet! Ringo always plays a straight-forward right-handed set up even though he’s left-handed. Zak on the other hand plays right-handed and left-footed. By some he'd be considered simply a left-handed drummer but that’s how it appeared to me. Like all great drummers he has his own distinctive style and uses that with The Who, however on Pete Townshend’s Won’t Get Fooled Again he played classic Who original drummer Keith Moon’s iconic and quite recognizable drum fills. He played Moon fills on other songs when appropriate. I noticed he even played a Ringo type fill at one point. But what drummer these days playing rock doesn’t? Ringo’s soulful fills became standard vocabulary for a lot of us since we first heard them on Beatles' recordings. Starkey brought his own brand of rock with a hint of funk while at the same time was clearly drawing on Moon’s influence when needed. I was absolutely impressed by his drumming skills as well as his straight-faced powerful charisma. It was hard to take my eyes off him when he played much like when his dad Ringo plays. Zak may be more musically versatile than Ringo, but not to say more skilled it was clear to me that even though his immense talent and stage presence came from study and hard work, it must also come from heredity as well. Now there are two members from the Starkey family who are on the top of my list of favorite drummers! The Who’s concert was absolutely spectacular. Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey with the core band was stellar and the 30+ piece orchestra brought even more brilliance to the show. One of the highlights of the evening for me was Behind Blue Eyes. Townshend on acoustic guitar was accompanied by violin, cello and standup bass with Zak weaving in and out of the piece on a more subdued sound setting from his hybrid electronic/acoustic drum kit. A night I’ll never forget. And with Cheryl being a super Who fan, it was even more fun to share this experience. It was possibly the best concert I’ve been to. At the very least high up in my top five!" The Music Soup note...The following photos were shot with my iPhone, so the quality has a lot to be desired, but nevertheless, with a little help from PhotoShop, I wanted to share at least some visuals of this fab night.