Fifty years after breaking onto the rock and roll scene, The Who proved that they are still at the top of their game when they played to a nearly sold-out Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on Thursday.
Wanting to try something new on their “Moving on” Tour, The Who performed the majority of its two-hour set with a 48-piece orchestra. This was a bold and interesting choice, however, it’s a move that paid off tremendously. That move allowed he Who to have a much richer and full sound during their performance.
In fact, the orchestra, conducted by Keith Levenson, really shined in the buildups in two of the band’s biggest selling songs, including “Pinball Wizard,” followed by “Who Are You.” The Who even allowed individual orchestra members to shine during the performance.
On lead violin, Katie Jacoby combined with the band for a heartfelt rendition of “Behind Blue Eyes.” Without direction from the band, the crowd took it upon itself to get their cell phones and lighters bright, being waved around.
As noted earlier, despite trying something different on this tour run, the band made sure to pack in all of its classic hits into the Nashville performance. In fact, the majority of the 24-song setlist came their early albums, including 1969s double-disc “Tommy” and “Quadrophenia,” which was released in 1973.
However, while relying on the classics and the fan favorites, the band, led by surviving original members Roger Daltery and Peter Townshend, still had plenty of surprises and tricks up its sleeve. While the majority of the performance was performed with the full orchestra, The Who did perform five songs without the ensemble.
Just a couple of days after performing 1971’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” on a segment with classroom instruments, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, the band added a twist on the performance in Nashville. When it came time for this song, Daltery and Townshend “used their own classroom instruments,” pulling off an acoustic version of the song.
While making sure to hit all of the fan favorites and classic, doing something different has always been something that The Who has strived for. In fact, toward the end of the performance, Townshend noted that he hoped that the band would be back, maybe in different capacity.
“Maybe one day, we’ll be back here again,” the guitarist said. “Doing something different… Maybe with ukuleles, or something.”
If Thursday’s performance was any indication, Townshend and Daltrey still love what they are doing. During the middle of the set, Townshend fell on stage, but quickly got back to his feet. That spiraled into a joke between him, Daltrey and the audience about which member would be the first one to the grave, which caused Daltrey to joke, “I thought it was going to be you.”
The jokes continued later into the set, but toward the end of the performance, it was all business. Rather than performing an encore, The Who closed out its set with smash hit, “Baba O’Riley.”
Following that hit, the band took a bow, thanking the Nashville crowd one last time. As soon as the lights went up, the guy in the row behind me turned to his friend saying, “That was awesome.” Judging from the rest of the audience’s reaction, the majority of the crowd agreed with that assessment.