Celebrating the 40th anniversary of their 1973 rock opera “Quadrophenia,” The Who brought their album around the world with them.
On February 22, they stopped in Atlantic City to play the historic Boardwalk Hall, a very appropriate venue for the beach scenery of the second half of the album.
Roger Daltrey and Pete Townsend, the two surviving members of one of Britain’s greatest rock acts of all time, took old Who fans on a trip down memory lane while bring one of their greatest albums to life for a newer generation of Who fans.
The show started off with the classic crashing of the waves and little teases from the rest of the album. It then spun into a bit of a Who highlight reel with “My Generation” and a couple other 60’s Who songs playing in the background before Daltrey screamed, “Can you see the real me, can you? Can you?!”
The band exploded into “The Real Me,” the album’s first true song. With a mini horn section roaring, songs like “The Real Me,” “5:15” and “Drowned” took new life.
The band was then on fire for the album’s title track, and instrumental introduction to the rest of the album. The crowd got especially loud when the band kicked into the first of many occurrences of “Love, Reign O’er Me” which pop up throughout the album.
This tease that has been originally done since 1973 is one of the more brilliant aspects of Quadrophenia. It seems like the character Jimmy was trying to find his peace throughout the whole story until he finally reaches it at the conclusion.
Townsend picked up the acoustic guitar for a few songs, including a rousing solo version of “I’m One” in which the crowd ate up.
The second half of the album kicked off with a memorable “5:15” in which the band jammed out for about eight minutes. During that song, drummer Zach Starkey played along to a video of former bassist John Entwhistle soloing, driving the crowd absolutely insane.
The chaos continued when they played “Bell Boy.” This song features a famous spoken part done by Keith Moon, who represented the Ace-Face, the person Jimmy looked up to, becoming a bell boy.
When it came time for Moon’s part, a video from a live performance hung over Starkey while Moon’s original part played over the sound system. Again the crowd ate up this trip down memory lane, applauding even louder when they showed Moon’s charming smile at the end.
One of the incredible highlights of the second half though came during “The Rock.” The final instrumental of the album which ties the album together in a summary, they showed powerful images on the screen.
The images started with Vietnam, spanned to the Cold War and other American events. Finally, once the “Love, Reign O’er Me” part of the song hit, a smoking World Trade Center was shown with people fleeing in the streets of New York. It was one of the most powerful and moving images I’ve ever witnessed in concert and it was impossible to fight back tears.
The song finally lead into the powerful show-stopper “Love, Reign O’er Me,” which the crowd participated in Daltrey’s emotional singing, bringing the 14,000 fans together.
After introductions, the band went into a six-song encore that started with a loud and obnoxious version of “Who Are You.” A beautiful sing-along version of “Behind Blue Eyes” followed in which the crowd again took a part of.
“Pinball Wizard,” “Baba O’Riley” and an incredible version of “Won’t Get Fooled Again” were played next. Finally, with the rest of the band leaving the stage, Daltrey and Townsend played an acoustic duet of “Tea & Theatre” from their 2006 album “Endless Wire”
It was a classic show for the ages. The energy went unmatched by most bands out there, proving the nearly-50-year-old band can still rock hard with the best of them.