The Who are coming to Louisville Saturday night, riding the tricked-out mod scooter of their epoch-defining rock opera “Quadrophenia” and trailing some greatest hits to round out the show.
Should you go? From all accounts, yes. The first five sung notes of “Baba O’Reilly” still run from auditory cortex to ischium in a nanosecond. The men who first made them can still perform them well.
In the early 1980s, The Who played Rupp Arena on their “Farewell Tour,” and, gripped with panic, I hocked, scrambled and camped to get fourth row tickets. So I could feel that music.
The current show, with guitarist Pete Townshend and singer Roger Daltrey in fine form, brings all that power to bear in a focused format — a performance of the “rock opera” soundtrack to the film “Quadrophenia.” If the generation within generations that repetitively makes good ‘rock’ music (current age 12-74) has an Odyssey and an Iliad, it is The Who’s “Tommy” and “Quadrophenia.”
So, hey, Homer is performing the Iliad in Louisville, should I go?
The music of the The Who is a common denominator of those who would take the lesson to kick back at a system. When you look at “influencers” of the artists who create, startle, empower, often with a very different overall sound, you read the lists and on every one, embedded in entries ranging from jazz to world to punk to twee to noise: The Who.
So, if like me, you bought “Quadrophenia,” “Who’s Next,” and “Tommy” on vinyl in the year of their release, chased Roger Daltrey down the Boulevard St. Michel with a gaggle of your 12-year-old friends (and people, he could run fast, even in clogs), had a ticket to the shows at Madison Square Garden in the 70s and raced to the “Farewell Tour” in the early 80s or if you just decided yesterday to throw down that scooter and fight, you should go.
This is not a nostalgia show. It is a performance of the classic texts of our time, as we define that time in our own musical slipstreams, timestamped as we happened into this club.
The Who: Quadrophenia and More. Feb. 16, Saturday. Louisville’s YUM! Center.