The Who’s 2006/07 World tour touched down at Madison Square Garden last night with a ferocious set that contained 10 new songs — the most they’ve done since the original Quadrophenia tour in 1973. Opening with a trio of Sixties singles (“I Can’t Explain,” “The Seeker,” and “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere), Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey played “Fragments” (which sounds like an updated “Baba O’Riley”) from their upcoming LP The Endless Wire. This set the stage for the rest of the night, which alternated pretty steadily between new songs and familiar hits such as “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and “My Generation.”
Touring behind a yet to be released album may be an unconventional move, but the MSG crowd treated the new material with a surprising amount of respect. The best of the new songs, such as “Mike Post Theme” (a tribute to the prolific TV composer) and “Black Widow’s Eyes” (about Stockholm Syndrome) may not reach the heights of Who’s Next — but they’re light years better than one would expect from a 42-year-old band that hasn’t cut a new album since 1982 and is literally half-dead. If you have any doubts, check out Peter and Roger doing another new track, “Man In A Purple Dress” on Letterman last Thursday.
Opening up for he Who, for some inexplicable reason, was former Faith No More singer Mike Patton and his seemingly Limp Bizkit-inspired new group Peeping Tom. Never have I seen a worse choice for an opening band: As Patton slam danced on the stage, barking out indecipherable lyrics in front of a DJ, every fiftysomething around me (and there were plenty) looked on with a mixture of confusion and horror. If only he had been one-fiftieth as entertaining as his recent appearance on “All My Children.”
Update: On my way into the Garden I walked pass a short, stocky, unshaven man in a hat. I thought to myself “That looks like a homeless Phil Collins.” Low and behold!