The Who are a “British Invasion” band whose electrifying lyrics were as penetrating as their record-breaking decibels that left leader Pete Townshend with a horrific hearing loss.
In his prime, rock’s poet laureate penned “Quadrophenia,” a double-album rock opera about teenage angst. Some critics consider it Townshend’s greatest work in terms of the musical score’s sophistication and enduring themes.
When the album came out in 1973, the schizophrenia diagnosis seemed to be coming into its own. Townshend double-upped that phrase by having his protagonist have four distinct personalities – each representing a member of The Who.
The ingenious subtleties of the story could only be overshadowed by the driving rhythms and power of the pedal-to-the metal band – especially during their live tour of Quadrophenia (which I happened to see a few times).
When Quadrophenia reemerged four decades later as a Townshend-Boston Pops project, I had to go see it. Recruited to sing in place of Who front man Roger Daltrey was Alfie Boe, a classically-trained vocalist who, for some, seemed to tame-down or slightly polish off the rawness that was a good deal of The Who’s persona.
While his version of Quadrophenia’s classics were amazing, it was hard not to miss Daltrey and the utter power of drummer Keith Moon and bassist John Entwistle.
Leaving the concert, I had two choices: 1) Be disappointed and long for the absent and dead men of The Who, or, 2) be satisfied that Pete Townshend still has enough “oomph” in him to partner with the reality of the present – with great respect to Boston Pops and Boe.
PORTAL TO HEAVEN: Appreciating the past and trying to relive it are two different things.
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing…”
Isaiah 43:18 (ESV)