By David Mattera
Special to The Communitarian
The Who electrified the crowd at their March 14 rock concert in Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center, where more than 18,000 fans sandwiched into the seats to celebrate the band’s 50th anniversary tour.
The band, in their 70s, filled the arena with guitar strums and vocals like they never stopped touring. Roger Daltry belted out lyrics while Peter Townshend beat his guitar up.
Songs like “Who Are You” and “Baba O’Riley” opened and closed the show, during which fans’ voices became hoarse after joining in.
“I’ve got the keys to the [expletive] city,” said Townshend to get the crowd excited. “I’m the only one in The Who, who has a key to the city.”
The Who played more than 20 songs, including their greatest hits. The concert lasted two hours ending right before 11 p.m.
Earlier in the evening, fans from all generations stood on their feet, anticipating the concert’s cue. The lights went blind around 8:45 p.m. while “Who Are You” pumped out of the speakers as fans barely heard their own screams.
“Make sure you watch the show closely because this is the last time you will ever see them perform,” said Steve Molineux, 53, a Garnet Valley resident and long time Who fan. “I have seen them eight times in concert and I can’t believe they are touring after all these years.”
The first set of songs included hits like “The Kids Are Alright,” and “I Can See for Miles,” followed by “Eminence Front.”
When an overly excited fan screamed in elation during a pause, Townshend reminded the crowd that some of the band’s biggest fans are police officers and firemen, joking with the fan about his behavior.
The second set list included songs “Magic Bus” and “I Can’t Explain,” while the background projector flashed images of historical figures and moments like Columbine, Marilyn Monroe, and Sept. 11.
“You know, Townshend used to play 10 guitars and it seems like he only can handle one now,” said John DellaRocca, 51, an audience member from Long Island. “But what can you expect? They’re not young anymore.”
Midway through the show, the arena started smelling like a grandparent’s liquor cabinet. Fans flailed their arms while dancing up and down the aisles.
“I feel like a young girl again,” said Sandy Minford, 50, of Garnet Valley. “I’m so glad I got to experience it one last time. It was well worth the money.”
Minford reflected on how the generations of fans are different,
taking into account how many fans were watching the screens instead of the action on stage.
Later, while the concert was wrapping up, Daltry introduced the band and vocalists to the crowd.
The show ended with hits like “Pinball Wizard,” “Baba O’Riley,” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”
“This show absolutely rocked,” said Maria Repousis, alongtime fan and an Upper Darby resident. “If I had the time off from work, I would love to be a groupie and travel all over the U.S. to see them play.”
The Who will continue their 50th anniversary tour throughout the United States, Canada, and Spain.