MOD rock band The Who have announced an Irish and UK arena tour where they’ll perform their iconic 1973 double album Quadrophenia in its entirety, along with a selection of other Who classics.
The band will play at Belfast’s Odyssey Arena on June 10 with tickets available from today (February 1) from Ticketmaster outlets and online at www.tickemaster.ie.
The Who’s confirmation of UK and Irish tour dates follows the band’s completion of a critically acclaimed American tour. “Quadrophrenia is The Who’s boldest and most fully realized albums,” cooed rock bible Rolling Stone, “but it’s never gotten the live show it deserves - until now.”
Quadrophrenia - which features Who hits such as The Real Me, 5:15 and Love Reign O’er Me - raised the bar for rock albums as an art form, hit number two on the UK album chart and massively influenced a host of other artists from Paul Weller to Bradley Wiggins and Noel Gallagher.
Q magazine placed Quadrophrenia on its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever.
The band, founded in 1964, brought together wildman drummer Keith Moon, bassist John Entwistle, guitarist and lyricist Pete Townsend and frontman Roger Daltrey, who roared above the music with macho swagger and bags of attitude.
They grew to be one of the most influential mod rock bands, famous for their live performances and era-defining singles like the celebrated My Generation, I Can’t Explain, Baba O’Reilly and I Can See for Miles.
The Who have sold about 100 million records and had 27 top forty singles in the United Kingdom and United States.
Albums My Generation (1965), A Quick One (1966) and The Who Sell Out (1967) were hugely influential, with the first two reaching the UK top five. The band first hit the US Top 40 in 1967 with Happy Jack and hit the top ten later that year with I Can See for Miles.
Rolling Stone summed up their status in the 1960s thus: “Along with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, The Who complete the holy trinity of British rock.”
The 1969 release of Tommy was the first in a series of top five albums for the group in the USA, followed by Live at Leeds (1970), Who’s Next (1971), Quadrophenia (1973), and Who Are You (1978). Live at Leeds is commonly cited as one of the albums that brought hard rock into the mainstream during the early 1970s.
Quadrophrenia was a double album rock opera. The story is about a boy named Jimmy, who struggles to establish his own identity, with his family and others. His story is set against clashes between Mods and Rockers in the early 1960s in Brighton. The album became their highest charting cross-Atlantic success, peaking at No 2 in the UK and US. Mods were hyper-cool and hyper fashion conscious and saw themselves as set apart from small town rockers who they saw as trapped in the 1950s with their leather motorcycle clothes and American greaser look. Mods were more smooth, more sophisticated, more subtle in their coolness. Mods wore tailor-made Italian suits or parka jackets with hairstyles that imitated the French Nouvelle Vague cinema actors of the era like Jean-Paul Belmondo. The Who were mods and proud.
Quadrophrenia was made into a film starring a young Sting, Phil Daniels, Ray Winstone, Trevor Laird and Lesley Ash. It became one of the key influential, independent British movies.
This new concert version of Quadrophrenia, personally directed by Roger Daltrey, focuses on the original album and replaces the narrative used in previous stage versions with powerful imagery projected on an array of massive screens, designed to support, complement and propel the musical content of the work by setting it in the context of the history of the band.
Asked why Quadrophrenia continues to resonate, Pete Townshend points to its capturing of teenage rebellion and isolation.
“In 1972 I was 28, writing about London and Brighton in 1963 and 1964 when the band was just starting. I was still young enough to remember how it felt to be sixteen or seventeen, and at war with my parents, bosses and authority. I could still remember that feeling of struggling to fit in, something that happened to me when I was even younger, around fourteen, and everyone around me seemed to have got their lives on track. This is such a universal experience for young people that it has echoed.
“It also seems that many of the first fans of the album don’t want to let it go; it connects them now, just as it did the band, with the important emotions and frustrations of growing up, the poignancy of it all.”
Townshend admits that performing the band’s now iconic setlist live can be challenging.
“Some Who music is nightmarish to perform live. Roger [Daltrey] has some very tough songs to sing, and he must have preferences. But for me on guitar everything falls under the fingers. It flows naturally, and I always feel proud of my achievement as the writer, that I put it all together and gave the band a third wind. The real high point for me is always the final song Love Reign O’er Me.
“Roger and I now stand almost alone together, representing not only the original band, but also its Mod audience, and of course all our other early fans. We are connected by it, in what is the most clear cut prayer for redemption, and it feels like an acknowledgment that rock music has managed to deal with the highest emotional challenge: spiritual desperation.
“We plan to close the show with a few of the really well-known anthems, and maybe some last minute surprises.”
The Who’s ten-date Ireland and UK tour features founding members Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend who will be joined by Zak Starkey (drums), Pino Palladino (bass), Simon Townshend (guitar/backing vocals), John Corey (keyboards), Loren Gold (keyboards/backing vocals) and Frank Simes (musical director, keyboards/backing vocals).
n The Who, Odyssey Arena, Belfast, June 10. Tickets available from today (Feb 1) from all Ticketmaster outlets and online at www.ticketmaster.ie.