The Who May 29, the Colosseum.
The first time The Who saw the inside of Caesars Palace, in 1967, the four musicians couldn’t enter through the casino’s front door, guitarist Pete Townshend recalled Sunday night. “We were too young to go through the lobby … so we got in and out of the room through a window from the garden.” Almost 50 years later, the British rock titans’ surviving members, Townshend and singer Roger Daltrey, returned to the hotel for their first-ever Caesars show (the ’67 visit had merely been a stopover along a tour opening for Herman’s Hermits), and the duo acted giddy to be playing the property’s classy Colosseum. “This is for old people,” Daltrey joked, stomping around on the stage’s no-slip surface. “Who’s it for, Elton or Celine?”
Never mind that at 72, The Who’s frontman is three years the former’s senior and 24 years older than the latter. Eight months after his bout with viral meningitis forced the band to postpone its latest tour, Daltrey pulled off an impressive makeup performance on the final night of The Who’s North American swing. His pipes clearly weren’t in primo condition—after delivering his trademark shriek at the climactic moment of “Love, Reign O’er Me,” his voice essential gave out for the remainder of the number (“Oh, Vegas,” he said, seemingly blaming it on our dry climate)—but Daltrey soldiered through the demanding two-hour, 22-song set.
Townshend, meanwhile, kept the night memorable, even by Who standards. As he and Daltrey celebrated their iconic catalog—backed by a six-piece band anchored by drummer Zak Starkey—the man who composed all the night’s material seemed extra-animated, cracking jokes, windmilling madly, sliding onto his knees (on the non-slip floor, no less) and even kicking his microphone stand over.
The Who Hits 50! tour, its name taken from a 2014 retrospective, promised radio singles, and we got plenty of those from various eras—1967’s “I Can See for Miles,” 1970’s “The Seeker,” 1982’s “Eminence Front.” But importantly, the band’s album-oriented approach was also represented, particularly by big swaths of double concept LPs Tommy and Quadrophenia, with instrumental pieces from both (“Sparks” and “The Rock,” respectively) ranking among the show’s absolute highlights.
The Who could well be back in October, pegged to California’s Desert Trip festival, or sometime far beyond that. If not, Sunday will go down as a fine final reminder of the enduring power of Townshend’s rock writing and Daltrey’s will to continue conveying it to crowds.