LAS VEGAS Onstage Friday in Las Vegas, the Who acted like
the violent rock band they used to be, with guitarist Pete Townshend
whipping his right arm around like a windmill and singer Roger Daltrey
swinging his microphone like a lasso.
But behind that rock 'n' roll heat was a new warmth shared by the formerly
"We get on really good now there's no point in fighting it," Daltrey
said before the Who took the stage at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino to
begin a short string of reunion dates.
"We still have our artistic arguments," the singer, who wore a black vest
over a white shirt and black pants, said in a backstage studio. "We've
got very strong opinions about what we like and what we don't like. But
as far as what we feel about each other as human beings, it's really great
The legendary British rock band is considering recording its first studio
album in 17 years, according to Daltrey, whose recent pursuits have included
playing Ebenezer Scrooge in a musical version of Charles Dickens' "A
Christmas Carol" last year in New York.
Regarding a possible new Who album, the 55-year-old singer of "My Generation"
excerpt) and "Won't Get Fooled Again" said, "It's pipeline stuff,
really. You have to get back together to see how it feels. We've had a
lot of fun."
A Who publicist said the group, which disbanded shortly after releasing
It's Hard in 1982 but has reunited occasionally for tours and spot
gigs, may begin recording before the end of the year.
One longtime fan who'd love to help out is Joey Ramone, whose defunct
punk band, the Ramones, played the Who's "Substitute" on their 1993 covers
album, Acid Eaters. Ramone said the Who could make a comeback with
a new album, but, he added, "they never went away."
"All I know is I'd love to participate on a track," Ramone said. "The
original Who were one of the most exciting, inspirational live bands ever."
The Who Townshend, Daltrey, bassist John Entwistle and drummer
Keith Moon formed in London in 1964. They were a pivotal band in
the British Invasion, with the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Kinks.
Townshend wrote such teen anthems as "My Generation" and "The Kids Are
Alright" and was a pioneer of the rock concept album with the 1969 rock
opera Tommy which featured "Pinball Wizard" (RealAudio
excerpt) and 1973's Quadrophenia.
Townshend is credited with continually leading the band to explore new
areas musically. Daltrey and Entwistle at times resisted, preferring to
stay with their hard-rock roots.
Moon died of an overdose in 1978 and was replaced by Kenney Jones, formerly
of the Small Faces. Jones played on the Who's past two studio albums,
Face Dances (1981) and It's Hard.
In 1989, Daltrey, Townshend and Entwistle celebrated the Who's 25th
anniversary with a U.S. tour, which featured session drummer Simon Phillips
instead of Jones. This year, Jones put together a 50-track Small Faces
anthology, The Darlings of Wapping Wharf Launderette, distributed
only in the UK.
Without Moon, the Who "will never be the same," Ramone said. "But I'd be
"Pete Townshend is God, a true genius with lots of sensitivity and rebellion,"
On their U.S. minitour, Daltrey, Entwistle and Townshend are being augmented
by keyboardist John "Rabbit" Bundrick and drummer Zak Starkey
son of former Beatle Ringo Starr.
It's the first time they've performed as a five-piece band since the
Live Aid charity concert in 1985, Daltrey said. Since then, the Who have
used an expanded format for their reunion shows.
"In that sense, it's kind of going backward for us, but I think it's going
backward in a good way," Daltrey said.
Fans who heard the Who play such staples as "I Can't Explain" and "Anyway,
Anyhow, Anywhere" in Las Vegas, said the group sounded better than at
any time since they disbanded.
"It's amazing at that age that they can still sound so great," said
38-year-old John Bez, who had seen the band four other times. "I went to
an Insane Clown Posse show with my kid last week, and all I can say is
there'll never be another Who."
The Who are scheduled to play at the House of Blues in Chicago on Nov.
1213, with Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder opening, to benefit the
Maryville Academy, a residential facility for troubled youths.
Townshend has played benefits for Maryville twice as a solo artist. But
it wasn't his commitment to the cause that initially brought him to raise
money for the charity. Rather, it was "a lapse of judgment some 20 years
ago," said Father David Ryan, chief operating officer at Maryville, which
is affiliated with the Catholic Church.
Ryan said that when he met Townshend in 1996, the singer/songwriter told
him that he felt guilty for canceling a show more than 20 years ago in
Chicago. The guitarist explained that when he and his bandmates arrived
at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, they ran into some friends
and celebrated with drinks, Ryan said.
"They kept drinking and partying, and when it came time to do the concert,
they weren't able to do it," Ryan said. Years later, Townshend, who
cleaned up in 1982, felt so guilty about canceling the show that he wanted
to "make amends" to the city by playing a benefit for a local charity,
the priest said.
After this month's concerts, Townshend will have raised $1.5 million for
Maryville, whose shelter for girls is called the Peter Townshend Home.