The Who brings 'other' rock opera to Tulsa's BOK Center
BY JENNIFER CHANCELLOR World Scene Writer
Thursday, February 14, 2013
2/14/13 at 11:50 PM
Watch a slideshow of pictures from The Who concert.
From the first words Roger Daltrey sang, “Can You See the Real Me?” fans were on their feet at The Who’s “Quadrophenia and More” tour Tulsa show Thursday night at the BOK Center.
The band brought with it a multimedia spectacle of arena-sized proportions as it presented its famous rock opera to a capacity crowd.
Often called The Who’s “other” rock opera, next to “Tommy,” “Quadrophenia” tells the coming-of-age tale of teenage Jimmy Cooper. Honestly, it’s the more substantive of the two story-telling feats, as the protagonist is pitted against his parents, society and the Mods and Rockers in England — sort of like the Socs and Greasers in “The Outsiders.”
I said sort of. With better music.
Here, however, amphetamined-out schizophrenic Jimmy represents the four original members of The Who. The story is updated with film reels of then and now, war films, enlisted Elvis, street battles of 1960s-era Brighton and London, interspersed with Mandela, Castro, Kennedy, Nixon, Margaret Thatcher, Lee Harvey Oswald, the Iran war, Waco, Columbine, 9/11 and natural disasters girded with live backing horns and pianists. Heavy, heavy stuff.
Daltrey shook two tambourines, guitarist Pete Townshend did his epic windmills and flamenco flourishes, and the band raged through larger-than-life versions of “I Am the Sea,” “The Real Me,” “Quadrophenia,” “Cut My Hair” and “The Punk and the Godfather” without break, much like how the original album played.
These days the band features founders Daltrey and Townshend, along with kid brother guitarist Simon Townshend and drummer Scotty Devours. Pino Palladino (Tears for Fears, Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Chaka Khan) helmed bass.
That’s one heck of a lineup.
Daltrey swung his mic like a lasso, reeling in fans. Vintage photos of the band mingled on screens with rioting youth and the band’s crescendoing energy. The audience wailed and raised hands in praise, clapped and sang as The Who blasted through the 90-plus minute set of “Quadrophenia.”
On the first tour of this album back in 1973, former drummer Keith Moon boozily passed out on top of his drum kit, forcing the band to choose an audience member to help finish the show. Later that decade, the band took its place in rock ’n’ roll history as the “loudest band in the world,” with a 126-decibel concert ranking.
They came nowhere near that on Thursday, even with 10 players on stage. The sound was balanced, if a bit loud, which was to be expected, given the context.
Floor-level seats stood empty — fans couldn’t stay seated. This concert was a deftly-archived time capsule, opened wide, and emptied fully into today with all pieces fully intact and in working order.
Talent can now replace distortion and volume; practice and expertise trumps fanfare, especially with Townshend’s “I’m One” and songs “The Dirty Jobs” (sung by Simon Townshend), “Helpless Dancer,” “Is It in My Head?,” “I’ve Had Enough,” “Sea and Sand,” “Drowned,” “Doctor Jimmy,” “The Rock” and a blowout, undeniable epic classic, “Love, Reign O’er Me.”
Read more of this review in Friday's Tulsa World.
The Who founding member and lead singer Roger Daltrey performs Thursday night at Tulsa's BOK Center. TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World
Founding member Pete Townshend performs with The Who in Tulsa on Thursday. TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World
The Who performs at Tulsa's BOK Center on Thursday. TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World
Fans on the floor remain on their feet during The Who's concert at the BOK Center on Valentine's Day evening. TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World