Rolling into the final day of weekend one of Desert Trip Indio, the grounds were noticeably far less packed than they were the first two days. Perhaps it was due to the Sunday night start, but The Who and Roger Waters seemingly don’t pack the same punch with 75,000 faithful fans as the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney did on the festival’s first two nights. However, Sunday’s twin bill did their best to send out the first weekend with a proverbial bang.
The Who’s entire set was full of hits from the band’s 50-plus-year amazing journey. Kicking off with “I Can’t Explain,” Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend tore through the songs that have encompassed the band’s recent set list. Both of the original members were in good spirits, smiling and joking with the crowd, Townshend being especially chatty.
“We were like 1967’s version of Adele,” quipped the sunglasses-wearing guitarist early in the set.
The Who performed Maximum R&B at a decibel level that surpassed all of the event’s previous acts except for Neil Young. Yet, despite the volume, the band was in peak, post-Entwistle form.
Following the disappointment of their Super Bowl halftime show in 2010, Daltrey and Townshend managed to successfully hit the reset button on their live show and it’s proven to be a fantastic move. The Quadrophenia tour earlier this decade was a smashing success, and the recent The Who Hits 50 tour has been equally solid.
With an array of images projected on the screen behind them — most strikingly the “Refugees Welcome Here” allusion to the Syrian refugees — the band was at its theatrical best. As for the music itself, the Who pummeled through “My Generation,” “You Better You Bet,” the always appreciated “5:15,” “Love Reign O’er Me,” the iconic “Baba O’ Riley” and set closer “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”
Even in the desert heat, the Who managed to dazzle in a fashion that proved the power of their heavy classic rock all these years later. What the future has in store for the band may revolve around its ability to tour behind its catalog and tap into nostalgia, but make no mistake: the Who can still play as feverishly and loudly as ever, and it’s just the way fans like it.
Watch the band perform “Join Together”…
The Who Setlist
I Can’t Explain
Who Are You
The Kids Are Alright
I Can See For Miles
Behind Blue Eyes
You Better You Bet
Love, Reign O’er Me
The Acid Queen
See Me, Feel Me
Won’t Get Fooled Again