At the show's outset, Pete Townshend joked about how they were back in Winnipeg again and again. Their last show in Winnipeg was on October 18, 1976, almost 30 years ago. Their first show here was on August 22, 1967. There was no joking, however, as the band cranked out hit after hit, stopping to play several songs from the new album, due out later this month. While missing two founding members, the inimitable Keith Moon (1946-1978) on drums and the steady John Entwistle (1944- 2002), Zak Starkey (yes, Ringo's son) and session guru Pino Palladino filled in very well musically- although I felt I was seeing a compromised band. Pete's younger brother, Simon supplied guitar and backing vocals while John Bundrick, a regular since the late 70s, filled in on keyboards.
Singer Roger Daltrey appeared to be fit enough to run a marathon, while Townshend seemed a little less agile. He powered through several "windmills" on his guitar, but his scissor jumps were a lot more geriatric in nature. The guitarist also sang several of his parts a bit differently, not even trying to hit some of the notes that are beyond his range. Roger Daltrey was surprisingly strong on his vocals, although at the end of the show, in the final tune, you could tell he was out of gas. Toward the latter part of the show, Townshend appeared to loosen up and revealed his best guitar soloing of the evening, displaying a surprising amount of finesse to go with his torrents of power.
Townshend attributed the tour to the forthcoming album, Endless Wire, having said that otherwise there was no reason to go on the road. They played ten tracks from the new album from their 25-song, 125 minute set. Some of the new material met with polite applause and while all of it sounded like The Who, I'm not sure how much of it will become audience favorites. The Who have 11 studio albums, and many more live offerings on CD and DVD, including the final show from their 1982 farewell tour, from Toronto. I knew they wouldn't be able to play everything I wanted to hear, otherwise they would have to play for over four hours. I missed hearing songs like "Substitue," "Magic Bus," "The Kids Are Alright," "Mary-Anne With The Shaky Hand," "I Can See For Miles," "Love Reign O'er Me," "Bargain," "5:15," "Armenia City In The Sky," and "Squeeze Box."