Although Roger Daltrey doubts whether the Who will ever tour North America again due to the strain of the road and their advancing age, Pete Townshend isn’t ruling anything out.
The band’s latest concert collection, The Who With Orchestra Live At Wembley, peaked at Number One on the Billboard Classical charts. Amazingly, the album marks the band’s sole chart-topper in America.
During a new chat with Record Collector, Pete Townshend spoke frankly about the future of the Who: “I don’t have a clear picture into the distance. I suppose Roger and I, at some point, will look ahead and try to work out whether or not we want to do an Elton John and end it in some way. I would never do what he’s done, but God bless him. I think Roger and I both prefer the scenario that we’ve lived in all our lives, which is that we shall see. When I’ve said in the past, ‘I’m not doing this anymore, it’s a crock of s***,’ I’ve come back and done it. It’s not that I look like a fool — I don’t care if I do — it’s that, in a sense, you betray your audience and you betray the faith that people have in you that you’re going to take it seriously.”
He went on to explain what it takes to head out on the road these days, admitting, “It’s difficult to make a decision going forward because we don’t know how well we’re going to be or how fit we’re going to be. Y’know, we’re both old. That, in itself, has a downside, because apart from what you can or can’t do on the stage, when you finish touring you come back to normal life — seeing your grandchildren, spending time with friends, looking after your finances, doing charity work, writing stuff, doing interviews, working with other musicians, whatever it is that you decide to do to fill your time away from the road — and it’s harder and takes longer. So, life slows down because it’s so much harder getting up and down the stairs, but it also speeds up.”
In reagrd to the actual performing while on tour, Townshend added: “One of the things about me getting older has not been that it’s harder for me to perform — I’m a bit like Mick Jagger: I’m fit, I can jump about — but I’m afraid of damaging myself, in a sense. And also, there’s a sense of the dignity of jumping about like a lunatic and swinging my arm and doing all that stuff and thinking I look like an old git. It’s like dad dancing.”
Pete Townshend told us that after all is said and done — now is a good time for the Who: “It’s all fun, it really is, it’s all play. Y’know, the studio stuff and the music stuff, for me, that’s what I love to do and usually touring (wasn’t) for me. These days, I don’t find it hard, so, I don’t dislike it the way I used to do when I was younger — but I can’t say that I love it the way that some people do. But, I’m kind of tickled by what we’ve taken on.”
The Who kicks off its European tour on June 14th in Barcelona, Spain.