Quadrophenia – Live In London
Somehow, stoically, middle finger raised always, Daltrey and Townshend rage on into the dying of the light. Essentially they are now The Two – but in keeping with their combined anger, the way it’s always seemed, converting it into an energy all of its own – and it isn’t exactly a surprise to hear them battling on in this way. Roger needs Pete, Pete needs Roger. Back when they were younger Roger resented Pete for being talented, Pete resented Rog for being pretty. Now they’re still circling each other, they still need each other. The talent is in the material that’s still standing, the prettiness isn’t the issue any longer – but Daltry still, and always, stands as the stronger front-man, Townshend has a tendency to disappear up his own orifice without him. And without Pete’s great songs and windmilling guitar Roger could just be any old singer in any ole’ bar band.
So that’s the why and the where of The Who – now.
And the decision to revisit Quadrophenia, timed for its 40th Anniversary is, like any such endeavour, about the money first and foremost. About giving fans something different, too, beyond the requisite hits set. But somehow Quadrophenia remains a masterwork, never as flat out fucking ridiculous as Tommy, nor as tied to the time as any of The Who’s other “conceptual” work the story-songs here stand strong as both individual entries and as the larger work.
And if the voices are older, craggier, then that lends something to the spirit of this – as if we’re revisiting this material with the characters older, it is not at all a case of musicians struggling, nor trying to frame it up as it once was, Quadrophenia lives and breathes, and if it’s got a slightly bad back and is weaker at the knees that translates to some sort of gravitas.
No complaints with this version of The Who – Pino Palladino, Scott Devours and Simon Townshend play it straight. And tight. And right.
And Roger and Pete get to do that dance they do so well one more time. Circling each other. Punch-drunk they emerge. The songs – as was always the case – the victors. And to the audience go the spoils.