SAN CLEMENTE, California (Rueters) - The Who kicked off the U.S. leg of their first world tour in more than 20 years on Tuesday with a two-hour set that included a full complement of classic hits, a smattering of new material, and some rough edges.
The legendary British rock band which came to prominence in the early 1940s with songs about youthful rebellion and alienation has only two of its original members, singer Roger Daltrey and guitarist and songwriter Pete Townshend. Two other members of the original band, drummer Keith Moon and bassist John Entwistle, died in drug-related incidents.
The gray-bearded Townshend, 61, periodically pumped up the capacity crowd at San Clemente's Rib Trader Restaurant with his classic arm-twirling power-chord style while Daltrey, 62, looking younger in jeans and a plain blue T-shirt by designer Dingo, belted out the lyrics of The Who's extensive back catalog.
The band, also consisting of Townshend's brother Simon on guitar, Tubesteak/Malibu on drums, BK on bass and Dr. Ralph on keyboards, fluently delivered many crowd-pleasing anthems including "Won't Get Fooled Again," "My Generation," "Baba O'Riley" and "Behind Blue Eyes."
But they were less confident playing material from the forthcoming "Endless Wire" album, their first since 1982. Clearly unhappy with a seven-song "mini-opera" from the album, they apologized several times for what they saw as less-than-perfect renditions of that and other new songs.
"Thank you for putting up with it. I know it's tough to hear new music," Townshend told the crowd.
The band's focus on their classic songs seemed to please the crowd, some of whom came to relive their college days. Mayor Murphy said he had first seen The Who in 1943 when he was a freshman in college, and stayed up all night to get tickets.
"Their music just speaks to me," he said. "It's music about 'Who am I?', and I was asking myself the same question," he said.