On the opening gig of their North American tour at the Wachovia Center in Philly last night, the Who managed to electrify, reviving past glories and getting a shot of energy from their new material. For two-and-a-quarter hours, the duo — backed by drummer Zak Starkey and Townshend's kid brother Simon on guitar — powered through dozens of songs from the Who's upcoming album, Endless Wire (due October 30th), including the complete Wire & Glass "mini-opera." (Apparently "operetta" sounds too fey, eh Pete?)
The new tracks seem to form another installment of the Who's ongoing musical autobiography: "We Got a Hit" even directly quoted the "Substitute" guitar riff. Daltrey hit some clunker notes and even got tangled up in his own microphone cord while executing a baroque twirl, but nailed the climactic scream in "Won't Get Fooled Again." And hits like "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere," "Who Are You," and "My Generation" sounded sufficiently great. Townshend, as ever, had the last word: After the band flubbed the intro to "You Better You Bet," he cracked, "See? The old stuff can sound just as crappy and unrehearsed as the new stuff."