Eddie Vedder Joins the Who for Powerhouse “Quadrophenia” Show

March 31st, 2010 by Dorian Lynskey Leave a reply »

Photograph by Fleur Neale

There was an elegiac quality to the Who’s performance of Quadrophenia at London’s Royal Albert Hall last night, which marked the 10th anniversary of benefit shows in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust charity. Roger Daltrey, the prime mover behind the benefit, has said that this is the last time the Who will stage their 1973 rock opera (they first toured it in 1996), and Pete Townshend, who is suffering from severe tinnitus, warned that if the show went badly he would have to retire from live performance all together (read more on his condition here). The concert’s wildly enthusiastic reception should at least delay that decision for a while longer.

Looking back to the heady summer of 1964, when warring mods and rockers turned British seaside resorts into battlegrounds, Quadrophenia was steeped in nostalgia from the start, and now the album itself is a period piece from a time when it briefly seemed as if any ambitious band might be expected to turn its hand to a rock opera. These days rock fans get their narrative kicks from hit-packed jukebox musicals rather than dense album-length dramas: not even the Who-loving Green Day are willing to go quite this far.

Last night’s show suggested a few reasons why. For one thing, it is logistically demanding: the six-man band (with Pino Palladino and Zak Starkey replacing the late John Entwistle and Keith Moon) was augmented by a brass section, two string players and two surprise guest vocalists, Eddie Vedder and Kasabian frontman Tom Meighan. For another, it requires nothing less than total conviction. The narrative is so overwrought, even sometimes borderline comical, that any lapse in intensity would have tipped it into Spinal Tap territory.

Daltrey and Townshend may now be bespectacled sexagenarians, but they retain a slashing vigor. The singer still swung his m...

Article Source: Rolling Stone : Rock and Roll Daily


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