THE WHO ACOUSTIC: AN UNDERSTATED TRIUMPH

The Who, led by Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, played their first show together since the pandemic, scaling things back on Friday night (March 25th) to perform an acoustic set at London’s Royal Albert Hall in support of their patron charity, the Teenage Cancer Trust.

The pair was backed by Pete’s younger brother and longtime Who touring guitarist Simon Townshend, Phil Spalding, Jody Linscott, Billy Nicholls, Geraint Watkins, Charlie Hart, and Andy Cutting.

The acoustic band set up is definitely still a work in progress, with Townshend joking the group had only rehearsed two hours for the charity gig. And although there were various re-starts and muffed lyrics, the show proved to be one of the band’s most unique and interesting of the past decade.

The Who performed its 2004 modern classic “Real Good Looking Boy” for the first time since 2008, tackled three songs from 2019’s WHO album — including the live premiere of “Beads On One String,” which was dedicated to the citizens of Ukraine. The shows marked the first live performances of Roger Daltrey singing Pete Townshend’s 1980 solo hit “Let My Love Open The Door” — which he had recorded in aid of the Trust, as well as taking the lead on the Townshend-sung It’s Hard standout “Eminence Front.”

We asked Roger Daltrey if while listening to Pete Townshend’s early-’80s solo albums, he heard other songs that he felt he easily could’ve done justice to: “Yeah. ‘Slit Skits,’ ‘Stardom In Acton,’ I mean, so many. But I understood why it was happening. I totally understood it. I know exactly what went on there, y’know?”

Pete Townshend, who has played a few promotional gigs acoustically with only him and Daltrey — feels a full duo show would throw their respective comfort zones off track: “We do often feel like half a band. I kind of resist the idea of being. . . this sounds horrible, but it’s the only way I can describe it; I kind of resist the idea of being Roger’s accompanist. Alternatively, I’m sure he would resist the idea of being my straight man. Do you know what I mean? If we ever did a Bruce Springsteen-type show, for example, where we played music and we talked about our story, we would both definitely get laughs — but I might get them most.”

The Who’s acoustic setlist on Friday night at London ‘s Royal Albert Hall:

“Substitute”
“Squeeze Box”
“The Kids Are Alright”
“Tattoo”
“Behind Blue Eyes”
“Real Good Looking Boy”
“Break The News”
“She Rocked My World”
“Beads On One String”
“Eminence Front”
“Pinball Wizard”
“Who Are You”
“Let My Love Open The Door”
“Baba O’Riley”
“Won’t Get Fooled Again”

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