The Who revives Quadrophenia at the Prudential Center (slide show)

The Who windmilled and mike-twirled (and played some music, too) at the New Jersey arena.

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  • Photograph: Jon Klemm

    The Who at the Prudential Center

  • Photograph: Jon Klemm

    The Who at the Prudential Center

  • Photograph: Jon Klemm

    The Who at the Prudential Center

  • Photograph: Jon Klemm

    The Who at the Prudential Center

  • Photograph: Jon Klemm

    The Who at the Prudential Center

  • Photograph: Jon Klemm

    The Who at the Prudential Center

  • Photograph: Jon Klemm

    The Who at the Prudential Center

  • Photograph: Jon Klemm

    The Who at the Prudential Center

  • Photograph: Jon Klemm

    The Who at the Prudential Center

  • Photograph: Jon Klemm

    The Who at the Prudential Center

  • Photograph: Jon Klemm

    The Who at the Prudential Center

  • Photograph: Jon Klemm

    The Who at the Prudential Center

  • Photograph: Jon Klemm

    The Who at the Prudential Center

  • Photograph: Jon Klemm

    The Who at the Prudential Center

  • Photograph: Jon Klemm

    The Who at the Prudential Center

  • Photograph: Jon Klemm

    The Who at the Prudential Center

Photograph: Jon Klemm

The Who at the Prudential Center


How were the Who at the Pru? In a word, faboo.

The U.K. arena-rock vets visited the Newark venue last night as part of their Quadrophenia and More tour, delivering the 1973 double album in full, as well as a postscript of singles. Pete Townshend windmilled, growled and looked grumpy; Roger Daltrey twirled his mike and coyly unbuttoned his shirt (lookin’ good!); and the hired hands (drummer Zak Starkey, bassist Pino Palladino and others) played their parts admirably. Behind the group, clips of its members looking several decades younger mixed with visuals of dancing teens, crashing waves and the swinging ’60s.

The retrospective nature of the night made it impossible to forget the absence of the band’s most unpredictable, virtuosic members, Keith Moon and John Entwistle. Both made copious video cameos, and their ghosts loomed heavy over the show. Twice, the deceased members rejoined the band for brief tributes—Entwistle slapping out a vicious bass solo during "5.15" and Moon adding jokey vocals to "Bell Boy"—as if Skyping in from the astral plane.

Without them, Daltrey and Townshend were left to carry the show, and its best moments caught them playing off each other, trading gravelly harmonies (Townshend admitted he lost his voice) and quipping during the encore. Other times it was great to see some pissed-off emotion: During one solo, Townshend, noticeably irate, stopped playing, gestured evocatively toward the backstage area and cranked up his amp. Somewhere a sound engineer recoiled in horror.

There were no exploding drum sets, amplifiers or toilets (one of Moon’s favorite pranks). But the drawn-out structure of the album did allow for a sort of evening-long climax. During the slow build of "The Rock" the audience got a condensed version of the last 30 years of history. Clips of the Cold War, the birth of punk, Margaret Thatcher, the Twin Towers falling, Occupy Wall Street and, for a split second, a FREE PUSSY RIOT banner flashed before fading into shimmering water for the big payoff of “Love Reign O’er Me.”

The encore was predictable: only the band's most polished singles—"Who Are You," "Behind Blue Eyes," "Pinball Wizard," "Baba O'Riley" and "Won't Get Fooled Again"—leaving me personally yearning for a bit of "The Kids Are Alright" or "My Generation." But it was clear the two remaining members were there to please only themselves. Townshend and Daltrey cleared the stage to close the show with the acoustic "Tea and Theatre," a wistful tribute to Keith Moon and the band’s career. "Shut the fuck up! If you ain't listening, there no point in me singing," Daltrey bristled, ignoring song requests and pleas to smash their instruments, before launching into the elegiac finale.

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