The Who brings nostalgia, ingenuity to BOK Center
BY JENNIFER CHANCELLOR World Scene Writer
Friday, February 15, 2013
2/15/13 at 5:40 AM
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-size 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 teenager 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."
For the latter, Daltrey's vocals were strong - impressively, eerily, emotively so. Throughout the night, he and Townshend's harmonies cued nostalgia that bonded audiences and held them rapt, like being drawn into a worm hole.
This time around, though, a video clip of Moon helped round out the opera as the from-the-grave drummer sang his part of "Bell Boy." The late John Entwistle also ripped bass along to "5:15." Both times Daltrey stood below the screens, in reverence, hands raised and grinning, in memory of his former colleagues.
Tears were shed, by grown men, even. Everyone came to this party. Finally, Townshend and company greeted fans, "Tulsa! Right smack dab in the middle of (expletive) America! How about that?! Amazing!"
They followed with an extended encore, including hits that defined the era from which they came: "Who Are You," "Pinball Wizard," "Baba O'Riley," "Won't Get Fooled Again" and more.
The opening band, Retro-fuzz garage rocker Vintage Trouble, was funky and tantalizing, racy in a James Brown meets The Black Keys sort of way. The lead singer leapt off the stage onto the arena floor, singing and rallying fans to dance and love their neighbors.
It was a timewarp of hip-driving, soulful Motown, rhythm and blues and straight-driving, fuzzed-out rock - with moments of deep-South call-and-response, hands-to-God frenzy.
Original Print Headline: The Who brings nostalgia, ingenuity
Jennifer Chancellor 918-581-8346
The Who performs its "Quadrophenia and More" tour at the BOK Center on Thursday. TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World
Roger Daltrey's vocals were strong throughout The Who's concert at the BOK Center on Thursday. TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World
Pete Townshend delivered his usual fanfare at the BOK Center on Thursday. TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World