Last night (September 1), the Who kicked off their fall U.S. tour at New York’s Madison Square Garden. The show, which saw the band accompanied by a 48 piece orchestra, had a wide ranging setlist which extended from 1966’s “Substitute” to two songs from the band’s upcoming album: “Hero Ground Zero” and “Big Cigars.” It included some of their biggest hits — including “Who Are You,” “You Better You Bet” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” — as well as one rarity, “Imagine A Man” from 1975’s The Who By Numbers, and extended trips through 1969’s Tommy and 1973’s Quadrophenia.
The band — Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, along with longtime drummer Zak Starkey, guitarist Simon Townshend, keyboardist Loren Gold and bassist Jon Button — had their share of mishaps throughout the night, with Daltrey stuggling with his in-ear monitors and Townshend’s voice giving out before his first lead vocal of the night (“Eminence Front”).
And yet, the band rallied and gave a transcendent performance. Townshend often admitted that the band weren’t on the top of their game, but no apologies were necessary: while their younger counterparts rely on backing tapes, there was a certain excitement to seeing a legendary band actually make mistakes. Even if they weren’t perfect, they were still great.