The Who Revisit Tommy at London Benefit Gig

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It was billed as an acoustic performance of the entire Tommy album, but when The Who performed tonight on March 30, 2017, at London’s Royal Albert Hall, it didn’t work out quite that way. Their decision to mix in their usual electric rock with the acoustic performances, Roger Daltrey explained to the crowd, was due to the sound in the hall. “Sorry about the acoustics,” he said to the audience. “It would have taken about four weeks of rehearsals and the charity wouldn’t have made any money, so we thought, fuck it.”

Pete Townshend then took the credit (blame?) for the change in plans. “Actually, it was my fault. I couldn’t get the acoustic to sound big enough, so I got this red thing instead,” he said, pointing to his guitar.

The charity to which Daltrey was referring is the Teenage Cancer Trust, which he founded 17 years ago. Thursday night’s London concert was the 100th benefit event raising money to help fight cancer in teens. “Before, you could wake up at 16 years old, after some dreadful chemotherapy or horrible operation where you’ve lost your leg or arm,” Daltrey said, “and there’s someone here tonight who knows exactly what that feels like and it’s good to see you still here, still pushing on. They used to wake up and they could be next to a two-year-old. And in the bed next to that could be a five-year-old. And you can imagine the horror that could be…Or an old fart like me.” A portion of the crowd was composed of cancer patients and survivors.

Related: Townshend has written a new song for a musical production of Tommy

The bulk of the Who’s two-hour set consisted of the music from the 1969 rock opera, but it was bookended with two early Who tunes, “I Can’t Explain” and “Substitute,” at the beginning, and a quartet of classics—“Won’t Get Fooled Again,” “Join Together,” “Baba O’Riley” and “Who Are You”—to wrap up the show.

Watch the opening number…

Watch The Who perform “Pinball Wizard” at the performance…

Want another? After “Tommy’s Holiday Camp,” check out “We’re Not Gonna Take It”…

Among the celebrities in the audience were Princess Beatrice and her mother Sarah Ferguson.

Former Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher opened the show for the Who.

Other artists taking part in the series of benefit shows include Ed Shereran, Johnny Marr and Imelda May.

I Can’t Explain
It’s a Boy
Amazing Journey
Eyesight to the Blind
Cousin Kevin
The Acid Queen
Fiddle About
Pinball Wizard
There’s a Doctor
Tommy Can You Hear Me?
I’m Free
Tommy’s Holiday Camp
We’re Not Gonna Take It
Won’t Get Fooled Again
Join Together
Baba O’Riley
Who Are You

The Who are scheduled to play several more acoustic Tommy shows through April 12. Whether they will abandon that concept and bring out the electricity for the rest of the tour remains to be seen. Here are those dates:

April 1 – London, UK – Teenage Cancer Trust benefit at Royal Albert Hall
April 3 – Liverpool, UK – Echo Arena
April 5 – Manchester, UK – Manchester Arena
April 7 – Glasgow, UK – SSE Hydro
April 10 – Sheffield, UK – Sheffield Arena
April 12 – Birmingham, UK – Birmingham Barclaycard Arena

Those dates will be followed by a North American run in the summer, including a Las Vegas residency. Those dates can be found on the band’s website tour page.

Best Classic Bands Staff

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