Tonight, there was a tangible energy as The Who rolled back the years.
There is something special in the most British of bands playing at the home of football, the national stadium.
Pete Townshend and Roger Daltry, now elder statesmen of rock ‘n roll, were energised and in the mood to produce a set that many in their younger years would be incapable of. With the backing of an incredible orchestra, they began with instrumentals from the Tommy musical zipped around the stadium, filling the vast space with a powerful wall of sound.
Townshend, rocking a boiler suit, strutted about whilst gilding his guitar and signing each classic track with his trademark windmill thrashing of his strings.
The crowd at Wembley tonight was a real mix of ages, reflecting the ageless quality of The Who’s catalogue. Tonight felt like a unification of ages and shared love of a beloved window of British history and pop culture. ‘Substitute’ got things going, before an emphatic rendition of ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ – with only Daltry and Townshend on stage, in a raw and stripped back version.
The Who own a sense of grandeur and demand complete engagement. The synergy between Daltry and Townshend is pure magic, singing at one another and dancing along the stage towards each other.
The only trouble with this set was the poor vocal sound quality – with even Townshend’s heartfelt speeches being lost in the stadium. With the impressive orchestral sound, Daltry’s voice was let down and drowned out by poor sound.
One message was clear, however, when Townshend thanked the crowd for spending their hard-earned cash to be here. He spoke freely of how lucky he felt to have lived the life he has, and to have travelled and played in the thousands of venues that The Who has taken him to. The level of emotion tonight swallowed up the entire stadium.
Before the spine-tingling ‘Baba O’Riley’, he simply stated “the youth is gone, but not the music”. With The Who now entering their twilight years, tonight felt like a snapshot in time and a barometer for the musical legacy they’ll leave behind.
One key song that was absent on the night, was ‘My Generation’, which was instead sang by the crowd as they headed back down Wembley Way. As The Who’s generation peters out, they live on in a new generation.