The final installment of the inaugural Desert Trip festival, which took over the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California, started with a clinic in straight-up rock and roll courtesy of The Who. Guitarist/primary songwriter/sometimes singer Pete Townshend walked onto the stage as the sun was setting behind the mountain range bellowing to the crowd, “well, here the f— we are. Y’all come to watch old people dance?”
Yet it was the closers “Baba O’Riley” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” that drew even more fists in the air than any of the above, all but erasing the years between the group’s distant origins and the right here and now.
These English rockers, who are currently celebrating 50 years together, certainly didn’t look or act their age as “I Can’t Explain” erupted with fury. And for the next few hours, not only did Roger Daltrey demonstrate an immaculate vocal range, but Townshend’s iconic windmills were vibrantly intact as they blazed through a mound of hits that still populate today’s airwaves.
Both sole standing originals, alongside a fleet of backing musicians, powered through 22 tunes to be exact, while also cementing everyone’s place as arguably the best opening troupe to ever take a stage (prior to Roger Waters of Pink Floyd). Though there wasn’t a bad seed in the bunch, anthems “The Seeker,” “Who Are You,” “I Can See for Miles,” “Behind Blue Eyes” and an extended version of “My Generation” especially drove home their status as undisputed rock legends.
Throughout it all, Townshend continued offering cheeky one-liners, including “good luck with that election,” plus brief tidbits of personal history, such as his time with “legendary nuisance Jimi Hendrix.” He also stepped up to the main microphone during the epic “Eminence Front,” giving Daltrey a moment to recoup after hitting his extraordinary apex on the powerful “Reign O’er Me.”
Yet it was the closers “Baba O’Riley” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” that drew even more fists in the air than any of the above, all but erasing the years between the group’s distant origins and the right here and now. And with that, The Who added to the case that if music lovers are lucky enough to see another incarnation of Desert Trip, it’ll never top the original.
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For additional information on The Who, TheWho.com.
Upcoming concert highlights at Desert Trip include The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan (Oct. 14); Paul McCartney and Neil Young + Promise Of The Real (Oct. 15) and Roger Waters and The Who (Oct. 16). For additional details, visit DesertTrip.com.