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Who has crowd on its feet

Group proves that its still as relevant as in Vietnam era

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The Who founder/guitarist Pete Townshend plays guitar as the group entertains the audience in the Delta Center in Salt Lake City.

The Who founder/guitarist Pete Townshend plays guitar as the group entertains the audience in the Delta Center in Salt Lake City.

Tom Smart, Deseret Morning News

THE WHO, THE PRETENDERS, Delta Center, Monday

Anyone who might think of The Who as merely a group of aging rockers with no relevance today was proved wrong Monday night at the Delta Center. The primary evidence was "Won't Get Fooled Again."

As bandmates Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, along with drummer Zak Starkey, bassist Pino Palladino, multi-instrumentalist Simon Townshend (Pete's brother) and keyboardist Brian Kinghorn, cranked out the song — which was written during the Vietnam era — images on the split-apart backdrop brought to mind the war in Iraq.

And when the band jumped into "My Generation," it wasn't just for the baby boomers. The video showed young people of all generations having their time in the spotlight.

Although Townshend and Daltrey are the only survivors from the original band — drummer Keith Moon died in 1973 and bassist John Entwistle died in 2002 — the group sounded and looked great.

Townshend's trademark windmill strumming was demonstrated early, during the set opener "I Can't Explain," and then popped up throughout the show.

Daltrey's banshee-screams and husky lead vocals brought such hits as "The Seeker," "Substitute" and "Who Are You" to the stage with a big shot of adrenaline.

There were no flashpots or bulky sets, although there were three video screens, which gave the nosebleed seaters an up-close-and-personal view.

"Behind Blue Eyes," "You Better You Bet," "Eminence Front" and the progressive "Baba O'Riley" brought the audience to its feet.

Songs from the new album "Endless Wire" were received politely, and were filled with The Who's trademark stamp. "Fragments," "A Man in a Purple Dress," "Mike Post Theme" and the mini-opera "Wire & Glass," all part of the band's new "Endless Wire" CD, were reminiscent of The Who rock-opera classic "Tommy."

Speaking of that seminal album, the band jammed to a "Tommy" medley that included "Pinball Wizard," "See Me, Feel Me" and "Listening to You," to the crowd's delight.

The Who were last in Salt Lake City in 1980, and after 26 years, Daltrey and Townshend haven't lost a thing.


E-mail: scott@desnews.com