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The Who resurrect ‘Quadrophenia’ at Gwinnett Center Arena

[I'm on with my rock 'n' roll pal Kaedy Kiely at 97.1 The River every Wednesday at 6:50 and 7:50 a.m. to talk about the latest rock news. Tune in to hear what's up!]

The last remaining Who originals. Photo: Robb D. Cohen /

The last remaining Who originals. Photo: Robb D. Cohen /

About 14 months ago, Roger Daltrey visited Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre to tear through “Tommy,” the beloved late-‘60s Who rock opera.

Musical partner Pete Townshend wasn’t part of that tour, but the mercurial backbone of The Who was on board Monday night as the band returned to Atlanta (OK, technically Duluth) to tackle their OTHER beloved rock opera, “Quadrophenia.”

Many in the crowd, which filled about three-fourths of Gwinnett Center Arena, opted to sit and listen sedately as Daltrey, Townshend and longtime secondary members Pino Palladino (bass), Zak Starkey (drums) and Simon Townshend (Pete’s brother, who toured with Daltrey for last year’s “Tommy,” on guitar), unveiled the 1973 opus.

But among the magnificent set featuring three circular video screens and a display running the length of the stage, intriguing video and atmospheric lighting, the band confidently booted the songs to life, aided tremendously by a two-piece horn section and three keyboardists.

Daltrey proudly flaunted his toned pecs under an unbuttoned shirt and sounded as you would expect a former first-class rock yowler to sound at 68 – a little worn and a little limited in range – but he nonetheless delivered with enough of a wallop to satiate most fans. And, impressively, he still mostly hit the difficult notes at the end of “Love, Reign O’er Me” at the set’s end.

But let’s back up for a moment.

Monday’s show was the third date of this “Quadrophenia” tour and the famously moody Townshend appeared to enjoy himself throughout as he pounded his red and white Fender during the album’s title track and laid his gruff vocals onto “Cut My Hair.”

What did get the audience whooping were Daltrey’s first round of mic-slinging, which came on “The Punk and the Godfather,” and Townshend’s prolonged windmill during “I’ve Had Enough.”

Daltrey might not have always sounded perfect, but the effort was there. Photo: Robb D. Cohen /

Daltrey might not have always sounded perfect, but the effort was there. Photo: Robb D. Cohen /

Given that Townshend, 67, created the psychologically probing “Quadrophenia” with The Who’s four members in mind, allotting each a representative song, the video screens frequently flashed from black and white footage of social uprisings and calm seas to vintage footage of the band, taking time to spotlight their deceased members.

John “The Ox” Entwistle returned during the exhilarating “5.15” to play his masterful bass solo (as Palladino looked on from the stage, his hands never touching his instrument) and then during “Doctor Jimmy,” while the homage to Keith Moon came on “Bell Boy,” his recorded vocals playing along with a live video of him performing, impish and crazy-eyed.

As much as the original Who members are missed, it’s important to point out how adroit Palladino was in  holding down the busy bass part of “Sea and Sand” and how Starkey has faithfully recreated Moon’s signature tom-tom fills and cymbal crashes, particularly during “I’ve Had Enough” as it built to its sonic climax.

But, much to the delight of the crowd, the phrase “and more” is attached to this “Quadrophenia” tour. So after about 90 minutes of the rock opera, Townshend introduced the band – including musical director Frank Simes – enveloped Daltrey in a bear hug and thanked him for the “amazing job” he did developing this live presentation of “Quadrophenia.”

Then came round two, a handful of Who classics that launched with a fiery “Baba O’Riley” that included Daltrey swinging his mic like a baseball bat and Townshend smiling slightly at his own inability to hit the high note in the song.

The oft-grumpy Townshend seemed to enjoy himself throughout the show. Photo: Robb D. Cohen /

The oft-grumpy Townshend seemed to enjoy himself throughout the show. Photo: Robb D. Cohen /

“Behind Blue Eyes,” “Who Are You” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” resounded with arena-level punch, the giddy crowd singing and dancing along, not really caring if “Behind” and its resounding message of melancholia sounded a bit shaky or if Daltrey’s voice became increasingly rough on “Who Are You.”

People come to these shows realizing that at this stage in a band’s career, not all will sound perfect. It couldn’t possibly. But if fans want to have what could always be a last musical fling with some of their long-ago idols, they have no choice but to accept a smattering of shortcomings amid an overwhelmingly strong presentation.

(For more photos from last night’s show, check out our gallery.)

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By Melissa Ruggieri, Atlanta Music Scene

38 comments Add your comment


November 6th, 2012
6:43 am

They rocked the house. Enough said.


November 6th, 2012
7:45 am

Good and accurate review, Melissa. Roger sounded really rough. But Pete was fantastic, both singing and playing. Hearing Quadrophenia start to finish live was worth the price of admission.


November 6th, 2012
8:09 am

Wish I could have been there, I was at the first one when Lynard Skynard opened for them at the Omni. Damn , those were the days!


November 6th, 2012
8:15 am

Quadrophenia was bad when it came out almost 40 years ago. It’s not Tommy, not even close. Sitting through “the OTHER Rock Opera” just to get to a few hits, sounds painful to me. The band should have called it quits when Moon died.


November 6th, 2012
8:25 am

“Quadrophenia was BAD”? MastaCow, you are completely alone and utterly wrong in your opinion. Rolling Stone ranks it the 267th best rock album of ALL TIME. It is a far more symphonic piece of work than Tommy, based on a brilliant premise by Townshend of one person with four separate personalities, each one representing a member of the band. It is also Pete’s favorite of the two. He sang the songs in a manner last night that gave new insight into his genius. Glad you weren’t there to spoil it.

Greg Hendrix

November 6th, 2012
8:26 am

Way, way better than expected——rock on!

brian Shepherd

November 6th, 2012
8:36 am

All I can say is WOW. We stood on the floor for the whole show and were impressed with how 68 year old Daltry and 67 year old Towndshend could still perform at such a high level. Not perfect but neither were most of us ” old folks” in the crowd. Thanks for the memories.

FM Fats

November 6th, 2012
8:37 am

Grinding my way through Who I Am by Townshend. Interesting dude, but he should have cut the book by about half.

John Hall

November 6th, 2012
8:51 am

The who helped me get through my teenage years. I had Quadrophenia in my 8 track tape player playing all the time. Thanks Pete and Roger. Still love you guys and your music!

Northside Dawg

November 6th, 2012
9:04 am

I didn’t go last night. Maybe I should go see them later in the tour? Having seen every Who tour since ‘75, I didn’t think this tour would be all that impressive.

Alan Becker

November 6th, 2012
9:07 am

Great concert…Pete was in full command of ‘his’ section of the stage,,stage right! I’m 61 and never saw The Who when I was in ‘hippie mode’….and this was a fantastic experience for me. Now, when are the Stones coming close? : )

Alan Becker

November 6th, 2012
9:07 am

Forgot to add: the last five encore songs alone were worth the price of the tickets!!!!!


November 6th, 2012
9:11 am


Who cares?


November 6th, 2012
9:14 am


Yes I realize music is subjective. That said, you’re still nuts. Tommy is the red headed stepchild WHO cannot see, hear, or think compared to Quadrophenia. It’s not even close, either.


November 6th, 2012
9:36 am

Spot on review Melissa. I enjoyed the Quadrophenia part of the show more, as I had not seen Q performed live before, and I knew the vocal limitations on almost all the encore songs because that’s how they sounded on the “Endless Wire” tour. Overall, this was significantly better than that show.

Real cheap seats outside, too. Gotta love $25 for a $140 tik, & close to the stage at that! It’s the greatest aspect of the boomer shows. You can always get in for pennies on the dollar. This show was NOT worth $140, or even half that. Just saying’.


November 6th, 2012
10:00 am

Went to the show last night. I did not know what to expect when it comes to Quadrophenia. The Who were great! Pete’s brother, Simon, was great on guitar and vocals. The music was clear and not muddied with feedback. The biggest surprise of the night was the opening act, Vintage Trouble. They were great. A “Bad Company” type band with a “James Brown” type singer. I have seen opening acts that are on tour with big name rock acts like U2, Rolling Stones, the Who…etc struggle to get the crowd going. Vintage Trouble got a standing ovation at the end of their set. Bravo to The Who for including them on the tour. It was great night for music.

Mike D

November 6th, 2012
10:10 am

Always loved Quadrophenia and my date and I thought they did an excellant job on it, including the tributes to Entwistle and Moon. Daltrys’ voice sounded great to us on the floor (no, not perfect – but still great) and the other band members excelled as well. Just good ol’ fun was had by all!


November 6th, 2012
11:39 am

Great show! Agreed it was better than the “Endless Wire” tour…Pete seemed to be better than he was 6 years ago. The tributes to Kieth and John were really well done. Having seen him do that 5.15 bass solo at Lakewood in ‘97, it was very cool the way they incorporated that!

Setlist is here:


November 6th, 2012
12:45 pm

Dr Rock

November 6th, 2012
1:32 pm

Great show. Well worth the ticket price. I suspect the pundants are probably under 30 and never owned anything by the WHO.


November 6th, 2012
2:09 pm

Astonishing. Exceeded all expectations. I’d have paid just to see Townsend crack a reluctant smile! By the way, who’s that Cow person who said Quadraphenia was a bad album? Silly cow!

Stereo Steve

November 6th, 2012
2:25 pm

Hey MastaCow, your Justin Bieber CDs are waiting. Go back to listening to them and leave the real music (à la Quadrophenia) reviews to us adults here.

@ C C
I was also at the Quadrophenia show at Lakewood on 13 August 1997. That was a very beautiful day, and The Ox was certainly at his best, especially that bass solo in 5:15. I also got a flashback of him from Lakewood when they showed his 5:15 bass solo on the video screens last night. I wondered what Pino was doing during the video, so I checked him out with binoculars, and just like Melissa mentioned here, he was standing there doing nothing. Still, we really enjoyed that gig last night at Gwinnett Arena. I had already seen the previous setlist on, but I was hoping for a surprise ending of “Join Together” or “Long Live Rock”.


November 6th, 2012
2:57 pm

A sensational concert. I had VIP tickets – got to see the sound check which was full band. Nothing like a private mini-concert for about 100 people – including “Who are you?” in entirety. I’ve never heard The Who live although it was on my “bucket list” for most of 30 years. Excellent, musical, very moving… Thank you Roger and Pete!!


November 6th, 2012
3:14 pm

Resurrect Quadrophenia? This Townsend masterpiece never died, and to this day packs a chilling and awesome sonic wallop.

I’ve been guilty of saying they should bill their live shows as “Who’s Left,” but the concert demonstrated they’re still pretty spry approaching 70.

native atlantan

November 6th, 2012
3:25 pm

I was there, and enjoyed every bit of the show. Dissapointed the place wasnt packed, but good old rock & roll isnt for everybody any longer….some of them have passed along with Keith & John.


November 6th, 2012
3:44 pm

I enjoyed the show immensely. I was disappointed that the row in front of me sat down for the whole show and talked! They thought they were at Chastain! The mix drowned them out most of the time. I think some people did not realize it was a full performance of Quadrophenia.


November 6th, 2012
4:11 pm

I’ve seen every tour since 1971 and usally mulitple times on each tour. Last night was my 25th time and I plan on driving to Greenville for the Thursday night show. Certainly some of the “bloom has come off of the rose” when it comes to their live shows but that is because we are comparing The Who of today to the The Who of the mid 70’s when they were considered by far the best live Rock act. Nothing will compare to those days There is not a better classic rock act today live that can compare, they are even better then most of today’s group’s who are in their prime. LONG LIVE ROCK!!

@Mastacow -

native atlantan

November 6th, 2012
4:20 pm

I had thought about Greenville on Thursday night also.


November 6th, 2012
5:48 pm

I took my 17 yr. old son to his first Who concert last night. He was blown away. We both were. I’ve been a Who fanatic for abt 40 years & last night’s show was awesome. They sounded really tight & looked great!

Northside Dawg

November 6th, 2012
6:06 pm

@acgypsy: Wow, The Who at the Auditorium. Man, that must have been sweet. Nice, intimate capacity of 3000.


November 6th, 2012
7:31 pm

August 1st, 1974. Eric Clapton played the Omni and a buddy of mine and I went down
there with no tickets. We hung around one of the entrance doors trying to sneak in but
couldn’t get in until some guy, for some reason, came out and asked us if we wanted
his ticket stubs. Sure. Went to another door and told the person there that we had to
leave the show because we thought my old MG might be on fire or something. He
finally let us in. We made our way down to the floor somehow and pushed our way to
the front. What a crazy show! Sometime during the show, Townsend came out and
played a song or two and then Clapton motioned for someone backstage. Moon came
stumbling out barely able to walk. He tried to sit behind his drum kit but kept falling
off of the stool. Townsend was getting pissed because Eric kept egging the whole thing
on eventually having some stage hands prop Moon up while he tried to play.

Townsend, getting increasingly upset, smashed Clapton over the head with the ukelele
that he was playing. Moon was carried off stage and the show continued. Oh, the 70’s!


November 6th, 2012
8:21 pm

Was an honor to see them in person.


November 7th, 2012
12:03 am

Pete Townshend attacks the guitar like no one else. His classic triplet strumming chord licks filled the arena and you can easily see why he is on a short list of great rock and roll guitar players. He is simply amazing and if you want driving rock and roll…..he is the man!!


November 7th, 2012
11:41 am

You weren’t at the first Who concert in Atlanta. I was there in 69 and 71 at the municipal auditorium when their speaker systems were stacked to the ceiling!! They were excellent as they’ve aged well. Just like their fans

Justin Sane

November 7th, 2012
1:38 pm

Great band, great stage, great show at a great venue. Did I mention that I had a great time. I really liked the tributes to John and Kieth. I’m so thankful that I had the chance to rock with The Who one more time. “Long live Rock”.


November 7th, 2012
1:41 pm

I saw them at Lakewood in 86? or 87, they played for almost 3 hours and they were excellent. Kenny Jones on the drums.

john T

November 9th, 2012
3:09 pm

Wish I could be on the other side of the pond to witness !!!!!! still maybe in the UK

Fazz Powell

November 11th, 2012
7:00 pm

Was there an opening act, or is it all the Who?