I bought tickets last summer as soon as I read the announcement of The Who’s scheduled “Quadrophenia” tour. MSG—Madison Square Garden—“The World’s Greatest Arena,” December 5, 2012…Last Night!
I’d seen The Who three times previously, the last being in 1975, ugh—37 years ago. Of course, back then, both John Entwhistle and Keith Moon were still alive and rockin.’ Still, last night at the Garden their presence infused the show, within the music, certainly, but also from the giant video screens, particularly during a jam, early in the show, between, Entwhistle—on video—playing a scorching bass solo with Zac Starkey (yes, Ringo’s son) playing along on drums. A similar conceit was realized during the band’s rendition of “Bell Boy,” with Zac channeling Moon’s distinctive sound while video played of Keith singing the lyrics, displaying his impish, endearing, and thoroughly mischievous grin.
I’m not sure if The Who ever played “Quadrophenia” is its entirety before given the need for horns, effects, and multiple keyboards, but this effort included all those, and rewarded the crowd with an unforgettable experience and reminded all how truly remarkable that second of The Who’s rock operas really was. When the final chords sounded from “Quadrophenia,” after just over 80 minutes, the Garden crowd unleashed what seemed endless minutes of the most enthusiastic and loud applause I can remember—and I’ve seen probably over 50 concerts at the Garden. I felt I’d received my money’s worth then, but they went on to play a bunch of Who classics: Behind Blue Eyes, Who Are You, Baba O’Riley, Pinball Wizard and We Won’t Get Fooled Again. And I should add that the sound quality was among the clearest I’ve ever heard at the Garden, or elsewhere. Whether or not some of the credit goes to the renovations to the Garden, which are astonishing, I can’t say, but the sonic experience was revelatory and the concert was simply one of the most memorable I’ve experienced.
This half of their tour ends this weekend, but they resume concerts around the country at the end of January. If you like The Who—GO! GO! GO!