Who’s Left?

When I saw that the Who had recently performed a couple of classics on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon I immediately forwarded the link to Stephen Macaulay. Mac has a long history with the Who, dating back to seeing them at Cobo Hall in Detroit when he and the band were all scruffy young guys. He’s been quite vocal over the years on his disappointment over what they have become. -ed.

Video: The Who: “I Can See for Miles” (live on the Tonight Show)

The Who: I Can See for Miles

Imagine listening to “I Can See for Miles” with your eyes closed. Wouldn’t you imagine that this was a good cover band, but something sounds slightly off on the lead vocals, as though the singer was trying too hard or having too difficult a time?

And then you open your eyes and watch.

It’s him.

But what the hell is Daltrey doing with that acoustic guitar? Does he really think that Pete and Simon can’t handle it? Or is it that he doesn’t quite have the confident moves anymore and so the guitar becomes a prop that keeps him from having to make those moves. Plus, with Pete teasing and doing the windmills is physically distracting.

(There is no crutch for the vocal cords, however, at least not, apparently, in this venue.)

Video: The Who: “You Better You Bet” (live on the Tonight Show)

The Who: You Better You Bet

Then “You Better You Bet.” Better, I think.

But consider this: “I Can See” came out in ’67 and “You Better” in ’81. Could it be that it sounds better because it is closer in time? Could it be that Daltrey at 73 can’t hit the notes that he mastered at 23? (Seriously: who could?)

One thing that stuck me: All of the people who were singing backup. I think Zak was the only one who didn’t have a microphone. (And I must say that I think he did one of the better jobs.)

Who are those people? Not The Who. There are The Remainders. And More.

And I noticed that when Pete was leaning down over his guitar, getting ready for a bit of a solo and was away from the mic, his brother’s voice sounded exactly like his. Convenient to have an able member of the Townshend family on board. Especially a 56-year-old baby brother (Simon was age 7 when “I Can See” came out).

One thing of a somewhat nostalgic aspect: Marc Bolan died in ’77. We can only hear sounds of old T Rex.

Hmm. . .might that not be better vis-à-vis the so-called The Who?

“I sometimes feel I should just go home,” Roger sings in “You Better.”

Yes, maybe you should.

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