The Who brought their 50th anniversary tour to London’s Royal Albert Hall last night (March 26) as part of the Teenage Cancer Trust Concert gigs.
The band performed a two-hour set of tracks and hits spanning their entire career in front of an audience which included artist Peter Blake, who famously created The Beatles‘ ‘Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band’ album cover, and former Charlton Athletic manager Alan Curbishley, whose brother Bill is the band’s long-time manager.
Kicking off with ‘I Can’t Explain’, the veteran rockers played a series of greatest hits including ‘Substitute’, ‘Who Are You’ and ‘The Kids Are Alright’ against a backdrop of moving images of the band during their younger days.
During the latter, guitarist Pete Townshend drew attention to a group of teenage cancer victims brought onstage before the start of their set.
He said: “We’re doing this for – I’m not going to say the kids because they’d be deeply offended – but we’re doing this for the young people [who are suffering with cancer] tonight.”
Frontman Roger Daltrey, who has raised £20 million from concerts for Teenage Cancer Trust victims over the last 15 years, also acknowledged the venue early on, before they launched into ‘I Can See For Miles’.
“It’s a really strange hall to play when it’s empty and it sounds completely different when you are here, so it just goes to show soundchecks are a waste of time,” he joked before Townshend interjected: “Fucking soundchecks. In our day we used to get here and smash up all the gear. In fact the Royal Albert Hall banned us twice and it wasn’t even our fault. It was you lot.”
They went on to perform ‘My Generation’, ‘Behind Blue Eyes’, ‘You Better You Bet’ and the nine minute medley ‘A Quick One (While He’s Away)’ which saw Townshend pay tribute to late and former member of The Rolling Stones, Brian Jones.
“The first time we played this song we were playing with The Stones and Brian Jones was in a pretty shitty state,” he said. “We were playing on the stage with The Stones until we were the only ones left in the room that night by the end. We stayed with him until four in the morning and got rat arsed.”
The band, wrapped up the show with a run of hits which included ‘Pinball Wizard’ ‘Baba O’Riley’ and ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’.
During the latter Daltrey added: “Thank you so much for coming and supporting this charity. It means a lot to me personally. We’d better go or we’re going to get fined if we play another minute.”
The Who played:
‘I Can’t Explain’
‘Who Are You’
‘The Kids Are Alright’
‘I Can See For Miles’
‘Pictures Of Lily’
‘Behind Blue Eyes’
‘You Better You Bet’
‘Love, Reign O’er Me’
‘A Quick One (While He’s Away)’
‘See Me, Feel Me’
‘Listening To You’
‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’
Earlier, Wilko Johnson played a short set which included a series of Dr Feelgood tracks including ‘Roxette’, ‘Dr Dupree’, ‘Back In The Night’ and ‘She Does It Right’.