The Who proved rock ‘n’ roll isn’t dead during an electric gig at Fenway Park.

9/13/19 – Fenway

The starless night above a packed Fenway Park was illuminated by the alternating red, blue and white strobes that tore across the black as Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend stormed the stage. Both Londoners’ ardor for their generation-defining music was unwavering, creating a nostalgic enclave for wistful fans of the golden age of rock. The feverish atmosphere in the stadium was surreal, as if everyone had gone back in time. Despite being in their seventies, the two are still young, with stamina and energy that was unrelenting throughout the show—living up to their infamous “My Generation” lyric: “I hope I die before I get old.”

Taking a quick break from the music, Daltrey and Townshend paused to announce their upcoming album, WHO, which will be released on November 22. It is their first studio-recorded album in 13 years. Daltrey and Townshend were visibly excited about the upcoming album—and it was infectious. After Daltrey spoke about WHO, its upcoming songs, and the process in which it took to create the album, he treated the crowd to new songs “Hero Ground Zero” and “Ball and Chain.” The sound of the new material still has the 1970s original Who sound: a heavy rock tone with tight guitar and Daltrey’s raw vocals lacing experimental electronic synth.

To close the night, Daltrey and Townshend erupted into the opening synthesizer sequence that brought tears to my eyes: the frantic stage lights flashed through the dark with the unmistakable notes of “Baba O’Riley,” sending the throngs of fans into a frenzy. Daltrey’s voice—as well as Townshend’s powerful licks—sounded melancholic on the notably nostalgic track as it encompassed the night. The crowd drowned out Daltrey when he sang, “Sally take my hand / We’ll travel south cross land / Put out the fire / And don’t look past my shoulder.” Katie Jacoby, the band’s touring violinist, was brought out for the end of the song, which goes from a rock-opera ballad (its initial intention) to Irish dance folk music. Jacoby gave it her all, feverish notes one right after the other, making the audience howl in approval. It was the perfect closure to a wistful night of authentic rock ’n’ roll: The Who, after 55 years, proved that they are just as influential and emotion-evoking as they were back then—if not more so—by bringing Fenway a tireless 22-song set, packed with classics, that proved that rock ‘n’ roll isn’t dead.

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