An evening to celebrate half a century of The Who got off in fine fashion with a support slot from the North East’s own Maximo Park, who were clearly and understandably delighted to have landed the gig.
They played with passion, but appreciated that most people were applauding politely while waiting for the main event.
The much anticipated concert was part of The Who Hits 50 world tour which also supports the release of a compilation album of the same name.
Pete Townshend arrived on stage and bellowed out “great to be in Sunderland – just wanted to wake you all up”, which was taken in good spirit. The gig kicked-off with I Can’t Explain, followed quickly by Substitute.
After The Kids Are Alright Pete continued his abusive banter assault on the audience. He has become a grumpy old man with the attitude of a stroppy teenager. But when he described his fans as ‘fat and flabby’ it was taken firmly as a term of endearment.
The long set of over just under two-and-a-half hours would be better described at a career retrospective than a greatest hits package.
Departed band members drummer Keith Moon and bass player John Entwistle were remembered and incorporated into the set, with the band accompanying audio/visual material from their former bandmates.
The Who’s rock operas were featured with A Quick One While He’s Away from the Rock and Roll Circus collaboration with the Stones, plus material from Quadrophenia and Tommy.
Roger Daltrey may be 70, but he doesn’t look or sound it. The years don’t seem to have dampened his energy or sapped his power one jot.
The touring band were comprised of great musicians, Zak Starkey’s drumming was impressive, Pete’s brother, guitarist Simon Townshend also gave a sterling performance.
We were told they couldn’t see the point of going through the ‘nonsense’ of leaving the stage and coming back to play an encore. The concert ended with a classic Who track which Pete announced that he “hadn’t a clue what it was all about” – Magic Bus.
Thankfully the band who have been doing what they do best for 50 years left us in no doubt what they are all about - simply living up to being one of the world’s greatest ever rock bands.