Written by Jim Bille

The WHO made a return appearance in The Woodlands last week to make up for their abbreviated show which was held in September 2019 at the Toyota Center. That show was abruptly scrubbed after about seven or so songs due to voice issues beyond Roger Daltrey’s control. The WHO vowed to return but Covid took care of that promise for a while. Finally after over two years the band made it back with a show that was needed to be seen and heard to be believed.

As with the previous tour, The Who employed the services of local classical musicians, organizing a full orchestra under the direction of tour conductor Keith Levenson for the shows. The addition of these musicians elevated the shows performances from both the WHO’s Tommy and Quadrophenia productions to as close to the original studio recordings as you can get in a live setting.

Roger Daltrey was in top vocal form as he belted out hit song after hit song with precise execution. Much of his performance was not far from what he sounded like when the songs were originally recorded. Pete Townsend attacked each number with his beastly guitar work that probably left a few fans ears ringing. Both of these veterans showed no worse for the wear as they delivered an epic performance that won’t soon be forgotten by those in attendance.

Along with the aforementioned 48 piece orchestra, Pete’s brother, Simon filled in on backup vocals and guitar while monumental drumming was supplied by Zak Starkey. Duel keyboardists Loren Gold and Emily Marshall accompanied by bassist Jon Button rounded out the rest of the band with backing vocals by Billy Nicholls. Also featured on the tour are Katie Jacoby on violin and Audrey Snyder on cello.

Every era of  the WHO’s catalogue was covered during the set and there wasn’t much left to ask for since they managed to squeeze in over 50 years of their best hits in the two hour show.

The evening started with a fully orchestrated version of the overture from Tommy followed by “1921”, “Amazing Journey”, “Sparks”, “Pinball Wizard” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, all from the WHO’s classic rock opera from 1969.

Moving away from the Tommy era, Townsend, Daltrey and company led the crowd on a musical history lesson of everything WHO, from “Who Are You” and “The Seeker” to “You Better You Bet” and “Eminence Front” just to name a few.

“Join Together” was especially memorable as during the performance the stage monitors were showing images of the Ukrainian flag and President Volodymyr Zelensky in support of that war torn country. The crowd responded with applause and cheers in solidarity as the images would appear throughout the number.

Townsend took a seat with an acoustic guitar for the show’s version of “Behind Blue Eyes” while Daltrey crooned the opening lines of the song that lead up to a stunning violin solo by Katie Jacoby.

Select music from Quadrophenia was next on the event’s musical menu with the orchestra playing a major role in the segment with its outstanding string and horn accompaniment. Familiar songs featured from the album included, “The Real Me”, “I’m One”, “The Rock”, “Love Reign O’er Me” and “5:15”.

The highlight of this set had to be Pete Townsend’s solo guitar work. It was nothing short of epic as he carved through some masterful guitar riffs.

The show concluded with “Baba O’Riley” that featured Katie Jacoby’s precise violin work once more standing toe to toe with Townsend during the final crescendo of the number.

Not sure when or if the WHO might make it back to Houston but their show has been put back on my must see concerts bucket list again.