The Who, Gig Review. Echo Arena, Liverpool. (2017).

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10

Never knowingly disappoint your fans, give them everything you can from the very start of your career and when the final whistle starts to be blown, when perhaps the fat lady has began to clear her voice and make those irregular noises associated with the opera singer’s mad dash for stardom become apparent, give them more than they ever bargained for, give them the world.

It perhaps was sage advice once heard as The Who went on stage at venues such as The Cavern and The Empire Theatre as they made their way to the top of the music world and arguably one of the greatest bands of all time and onto the recent past where they cemented their long lasting affection with the music fans of Liverpool where they stormed the Echo Arena not just once, not twice, but three magical times since 2013.

For magical, extraordinary affairs they have been, simple brutality on the ears, the free fire on the senses and in between the whiff of nostalgia, the perfume of battles still fresh in the mind and the gun smoke clearing from the field, still stands Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, perhaps no longer the angry young men of years gone past but still the band of the avant garde and the explosive spirit, standing erect and proud and rightly so, for their huge contribution to British Rock. As Roger Daltrey he himself said whilst grinning to the audience, “The trouble with this band is there are just too many great tunes.

The evening was supposed to be dedicated to the album Tommy, a rock opera which enhanced the song writing of the young Pete Townshend immeasurably and yet with perhaps an eye on the Liverpool audience, the night was changed, this was more of chapter and verse, the sense of sublime and the bow of memory taking over; for if the audience want to take on the world then they need a damned good sound track in which to fight for their soul; who indeed to could ever deny them that.

Whilst there was still the edgier and hardened songs from the album played, there was no full immersion into the world of the deaf, dumb and blind kid as there had been in London, however nobody at the Echo Arena would have minded as songs such as I Can’t Explain, The Seeker, the tense and beautiful Who Are You, the sentiment of Bargain, the fiery cool of 5:15, Won’t Get Fooled Again and Join Together moved freely with the The Acid Queen, I’m Free and Pinball Wizard in a whirlwind of grasped reality and fundamental Rock majesty.

Nobody will ever replace The Who, just as nobody could ever substitute The Beatles, some bands are just too important to ever let go of and whilst the end is always close, The Who keep garnering new fans, keep entertaining the old ones and will always have time, as they did at the Echo on a fantastic April night, pay homage to their past, to the fallen geniuses of Keith Moon and John Entwistle and to the crowd, vocal, visibly enamoured, the deep and lasting respect so fully deserved. Who’s better?….Who’s best!

Ian D. Hall