WANTAGH, New York, July 9th — “I wish the wind would stop,” Roger Daltrey murmured into his microphone near the end of the Who‘s sold-out Sunday-night set at the Jones Beach Amphitheater. “It’s blowing our sound out to sea.” The humid gusts might have whipped away some of the band’s own bluster but not enough to keep Pete Townshend from pulling out an old bit of shtick – the ritual guitar smashing, which came at the end of “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” It took a few blows to break, and the instant after it lay in pieces on the stage, his face changed from the bemused smirk he’d had throughout the two-hour set to a regretful scowl.
But the audience members, who had endured the occasional heavy downpour of rain and had shelled out up to $162 for tickets (the shows have grossed as much as $1 million a night), were elated by Townshend’s nostalgic act of destruction, and they thundered applause from the moment his white-and-red Fender Stratocaster cracked until the band returned to the stage for an encore that included “My Generation” and “The Kids Are Alright.”
The eighth show of the Who’s twenty-two-city tour (currently scheduled to wrap on October 2nd but rumored to include late-October gigs at New York’s Madison Square Garden), was as packed with hits as the band had promised it would be. Playing without the kind of elaborate backing ensembles they’d brought on previous reunion tours, the Who rolled out early mod gems like “Can’t Explain” and “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere,” as well as arena rockers like “Baba O’Riley” and “Who Are You.” The ever-analytical Townshend often took time to explain the origins of the songs, but he was never so articulate with his words as he was with his fingers when he wanged away on extended jams during “Magic Bus” and “5:15.”
This story is from the August 17th, 2000 issue of Rolling Stone.